The 1950s was an exciting time for the British bus manufacturing industry. The UK was starting to recover from the destruction and waste of the Second World War. But the conflict had also accelerated technical innovation. Many established bus builders moved across to war production and encountered the new materials and advanced techniques involved in aircraft manufacture. They were able to use those to produce more efficient and productive bus designs when they could return to civilian work.
Even so, the basic design of the double-deck bus maintained the established layout of a front engine with the driver sitting in a half-cab next to the engine. Bristol and Eastern Coach Works unveiled their Lodekka in 1949. London Transport's technical team began work on what became the Routemaster around the same time. Both followed that pattern because that was what the operators wanted. Midland Red (which built most of its own buses) opted to retain that layout even though by the late 1950s, when the BMMO D9 appeared, the Leyland Atlantean was convincingly showing that the way forward lay with rear-engined double-deckers.
So the three models I am considering here managed to incorporate new technology (in many respects more advanced than that in the production Atlantean) within what was - by 1960 - looking like an outdated package. They were - in my terminology - 'third generation' front-engined half-cab double-deckers. To discover what I mean by that, press the first button below, then follow the others as you like.
By the way, getting a line-up of the three buses together in real life would take some doing, so I am relying on three 1:76 scale models to give an impression of how they would look together.
Principal information sources.
Commercial Motor magazine. Various editions for technical information about the buses. This material is available at archive.commercialmotor.com which is a tremendous resource.
Graces Guide. This web-site provides copious information about the history of British firms, along with lots of stuff about their activities and products. All the manufacturers discussed in this article are covered.
Curtis, C. (1977). Buses of London. London Transport.
Curtis, M. (2009). The Bristol Lodekka. Hersham, UK: Ian Allan.
Curtis, M. (2014). New bus for London - the inside story. Manchester: Crecy Publishing.
Elborough, T. (2006). The bus we loved. London: Granta.
Glancey, J. (2019. The journey matters. London: Atlantic.
Gray, P. et al (1978). Midland Red - a history of the company and its vehicles up to 1940. Glossop, UK: Transport Publishing Company.
Green, O. & Reed, J. (1983). The London Transport golden jubilee book. London: The Daily Telegraph.
Harvey, D. (2017). Midland Red double-deckers. Stroud: Amberley Publishing.
Jack, D. (1977). The Leyland bus. Glossop, UK: Transport Publishing Company.
Kaye, D. (1968). Buses and trolleybuses since 1945. London: Blandford Press.
Richards, S. (2012). More room on top - Midland Red - the BMMO D9 and D10. Solihull, UK: Richards Publishing.
White, M. (2007). Coachwork by Eastern Coach Works. Lowestoft, UK: Malcolm R. White.
Whiting, J. (compiler) (2004). The birth of the Routemaster. Harrow, UK; Capital Transport Publishing.
Whiting, J. & Frontani, L. (designers) (2013). Boris's bus - the new bus for London. Capital Transport Publishing.