Initial preservation : 1984 - 2002 (Gordon Bate)

Following ERG163’s withdrawal by Crosville in 1984 it was saved from potential scrapping and an uncertain future by passing into the world of vehicle preservation through the new ownership of Gordon Bate. Gordon lived in the Manchester area and saved and preserved many other Crosville vehicles in his time including now preserved CRG106, CRG111 and CRG530, which would also eventually pass to other owners for further restoration, safekeeping and preservation. It is safe to say that Gordon played an instrumental interim role in saving and securing such vehicles from their ultimate demise.

ERG163 enters preservation and is repainted in CRG163‘s more simplistic cream and back livery under the ownership of Gordon Bate.  The vehicle’s fleet classification during its time with Crosville is applied in standard National Bus Company grey stickers.
ERG163 initially passed to Gordon in the dual purpose green and white livery as operated by Crosville. During his tenure of the vehicle he later adopted a derivative of the original cream and black livery but to a far simpler design, reapplying through sticker format the fleet designation of CRG163. Initially Gordon would attend many bus and coach rallies with the vehicle but over time began to withdraw. Over time the vehicle was withdrawn from any public appearance and mothballed, parked up at an unknown location for many years to come, rumoured to be on the outskirts of Manchester, somewhere.

A New Chapter - Preservation 2002 onwards (Richard Jones)

In the year 2000 I got to know Gordon Bate through the vehicle preservation movement and came across 163 as a part of this. I understand that many had attempted to purchase 163 from Gordon over the years through failed attempts either before or during any acquisition process. It is understood that Gordon would meet would be purchasers in the middle of nowhere but never actually taking anybody to the secret location of 163.

However in early 2001 everything changed. Gordon contacted me and offered the opportunity to purchase the vehicle. I remember accepting his offer to visit with excitement.

CRG 163 - Initial recovery and rescue

In June of the following year a date was set, that being the 9th of June, 2002 and I dully travelled with others to a location on the outskirts of Manchester to meet Gordon. Again as with others before I was to meet him at a location in the middle of nowhere. When we met we chatted for a short while before being invited to follow him for a number of miles along country lanes to the hidden location of 163. I remember entering a farm before suddenly seeing 163 appear silently from behind a barn.

Top left images is CRG163 parked on the farm before recovery.  Top right is Mr Gordon Bate inside CRG163.  Bottom left image is of recovered CRG163 on the way home to North West Wales.  Bottom right image is of CRG163 safely home in North West Wales.
Unfortunately by this time the vehicle had deteriorated as it had not moved for a number of years. The vehicle was thoroughly checked over by a mechanic friend for any issues such as air pipe or water issues as well as other roadworthiness checks. On receiving the green light from my mechanic friend the deal was done. Before we departed I remember Gordon affectionately placing his hand on the front of 163 and saying “look after yourself old girl”. Suddenly we were homeward bound returning 163 once again to North Wales.

Ex CRG163 heading westbound near Chester - homeward bound (photo courtesy of Ray Jones).
Her recovery did not pass without incident, but through engineering support from a friend and perseverance she travelled home from Manchester to North Wales.

At this time I must pay homage to Gordon Bate for saving so many Crosville vehicles including mine from a more unstable future. Sadly Gordon is no longer with us unfortunately, however 163 lives on as well as his initial efforts of preservation.

The restoration work begins...

CRG163 undertook a rigorous restoration process with Richard between 2002 and 2004 with grateful support from his father, late mother and others before being unveiled in June 2004 in her restored NATIONAL white livery.

A lot of travelling was undertaken across the country, tracking down and sourcing parts.

This included but not restricted to:

  • a complete mechanical overhaul including the fitting of new air and water pipes throughout and the repair of air bag levelling valves;  vehicle entrance door mechanisms and driver cab electrics;
  • securing a full set of six rims (wheels) from the Scotch Corner on realisation that six different sized incorrect rims were fitted by the previous owner
  • six new tyres;
  • recasting the steering wheel - north of Manchester;
  • repair to vehicle alternator - Liverpool
  • rebuilding the wooden frames of all side lockers - nearside and offside;
  • New window rubbers supplied from a specialist company - all round including destination displays and side panels above front wheels - nearside and offside to hold the ‘Crosville’ name once again
  • complete sanding down of the entire body work (with grateful support from my Father);
  • complete respray of the vehicle to NATIONAL white;
  • deteriorated water pipes replaced;
  • complete internal repaint;
  • Sourcing of original coloured green external beading all round on all bright work;
  • Sourcing of new metal grey and black fleet plates re-created exactly to the original design and specification of CRG163 down to the detail of the text font and dimensions used thus reinstating 163 to its original CRG fleet status.  This replaced the stickers used by the previous owner;
  • Sourcing the correct paint and colour match of grey for the vehicle rims (wheels);
  • Sourcing the design specifications for the ‘NATIONAL’ branding as well as all vehicle legal lettering to the original design including font.  This included the ‘Crosville’ fleet name on the reinstated panel above the front wheels.  163 was now repainted in the NATIONAL livery and included all correct styling of legal lettering.  I was extremely lucky as my friend Derek Thompson who once worked for Crosville at its Caernarfon depot had retained the original specifications who kindly shared this with me.  Sadly Derek is no longer with us.  Thank you Derek so much for your kindness and friendship.

Completion of restoration and unveiling

The new livery chosen for restored CRG163 was kept a secret from everyone and was unveiled at the Llandudno Victorian Extravaganza Transport Festival in May 2004.

Llandudno Transport Festival

On 01 May 2004, CRG 163 is publicly unveiled for the first time following restoration at the Llandudno Transport Festival. By now CRG 163 has been restored and repainted into the National white livery the vehicle carried between 1972 and 1979. CRG 163 would also proudly carry new bespoke traditional metal fleet plates and as carried when new.

The initial four photographs below were taken early morning on Saturday the 01 May as final preparations were being made to publicly unveil restored CRG163 for the first time later in the morning. Final touches included final visual checks of everything and the application of the orange show sticker on CRG163’s nearside windscreen.
This was extremely exciting as two years of restoration work culminated to this very point where only a few hours later CRG163 would be unveiled to everyone. CRG163’s livery was kept as a secret and surprise to everyone. It must be remembered that twenty years ago we didn’t have such things as the internet and social media platforms as we have today.

Early morning images of CRG163 before setting off to the Crosville vehicle gathering at the Llandudno Transport Extravaganza - 2004. This was our first public outing following the completion of two years of restoration.

Following an early start of excitement , CRG163 arrives at the Llandudno Transport Festival.
Following the static show of vehicles at the Llandudno Festival of Transport a road run took place of most of the vehicle through Llandudno and around the Great Orme.  CRG163 is seen here driving through Llandudno as a part of the road run.  Following the road run CRG163 parks alongside fellow preserved Crosville vehicles for an impromptu early evening photo shoot.

Returning home to Liverpool

Preserved CRG163 returning to Liverpool Lime Street Station on the 3rd of October, 2004.  CRG163 was originally based at Crosville’s Liverpool Edge Lane depot back in 1970.

CRG163 in preservation circa 2004 - taken by Derek Thompson.
By then CRG163 had become a celebrity in the bus preservation movement.

Preserved CRG163 at Glynllifon Estate circa 2005.

Bus & Coach Preservation Magazine - June 2004

Bus & Coach Preservation magazine front page - July 2004.
The cover photo was taken of preserved CRG163 passing through one of the famous arches of the Menai Suspension Bridge linking the Isle of Anglesey and the main land.

In June 2004 CRG163 during its preservation become the star on the cover and within a five page internal article of the Bus & Coach Preservation Magazine.

Bob Moelfre, once of Crosville’s depot at Amlwch.  Now retired but once again driving CRG163 but this time in preservation many years later.  In memory of Bob.

Crosville 100 celebrations, 2006 at Rhyl with me behind the wheel and my late Mother sitting behind.  Photo courtesy of Martin Pinnington with thanks.

Pictured again at the Crosville 100 celebrations, 2006 in Rhyl.  Photo courtesy of Martin Pinnington with thanks.

Preserved CRG163 returning home to Amlwch during 2006.  The Crosville depot is sadly demolished, making way for yet another supermarket which became buyers of Crosville sites when vacated and sold.  CRG163 returned to Amlwch displaying route number X10 (the route once operated by CRG163 when ERG163 back in the day between Cemaes Bay and Liverpool) on its destination blind, paying homage and respect for the old depot and staff.
An evening shot of preserved CRG163, parked at the bus interchange at Menai Bridge, Anglesey on its return from Amlwch.

TV Appearance

The EFE model of preserved CRG163 on BBC iplayer
The EFE model of preserved CRG163 has also appeared on BBC iplayer in the programme: Timeshift: Series 10, 7 - The Modern Age of the Coach. The programme is also available on You Tube via the following web link: 

CRG163 preservation - 2020 onwards

For details of our recent restoration and preservation endeavours please click HERE or our News Page for details.

Contact details

If you have any photos or related information about CRG163 or any information on the parts presently required then please e-mail me, Richard Jones at .  Many thanks in advance.

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