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Sunday, 7 February 2010

An old bus for London

People wrote and said they enjoyed the "what might have been" blog a couple of weeks ago so here is something similar.

Pictured right (on a low loader arriving back at Wigan) is the prototype Plaxton President as shown at the 1997 Bus and Coach show but incorporating a longditudinal rear engine and consequent long rear overhang.

After critical reaction it was re-engineered with the now familiar transverse rear engine thus repeating the history of the Bristol VRT which also started life as a longditudinal engined-design. This delay gave Dennis their lead with the Trident as well.

Another little-known feature of this vehicle is that it was designed to the usual 2.5m maximum width but this was relaxed to 2.55m during the process. As a result the preformed interior roof sections showed all the gaps caused by the new exterior dimensions!

The President came to the market at the forefront of double-deck low floor requirement being driven by London. Production was centred at the Northern Counties facility at Wigan which was extended and improved to meet demand. Sadly, despite selling considerable numbers into the market, fuelled by the Livingstone-era expansion and investment, the collapse of TransBus in 2004 led to the closure of the Wigan plant and shortly after the ending of production of the President.

As a supporter of Northern Counties in the 1990s I saw several design concepts for the President and full-scale mock ups of certain features. It included several features from the mid-1990s "next generation bus for London" designs including the "open" centre staircase. Our first examples came in 1999 and they were classified "TN" - I chose this not only to avoid the drearily-repetitive "TP" of our competitors but also as a nod to the London Leyland (B15) Titans (which were "TN" throughout their development although all were simply "T" by the time they were delivered).



  1. Hello Leon,

    Having driven Leyland Olympians, Volvo Olympians, ALX400's, Enviro 400's and Wright bodied Volvo's while working for First London, I have to say that the Plaxton President is by far my favourite bus body. It looks a proper bus and the interior layout can't be beaten. Any idea what happened to the prototype?

    I like the source for the name TN. The B15 Titan was the very first bus I drove aged 17 at the North Weald Bus Rally. Growing up in East London territory, they were buses that leave me with fond memories and (in my opinion) far better than a Mk1 Metrobucket!

  2. Do we know what happened to this prototype? Was it scrapped or will it turn up randomly with a North Eastern independent?

  3. Do you know I really have no idea - I'm going off to the eGroup to ask !!


  4. It hasn't appeared up in the North East. Saying that, GNE is preparing the Bluebird for service again. No doubt to replace the final Solo at Ashington. Also both the Concept 2000s are still running around.

  5. Excelllent! If Stevensons was still alive it might have turned up there! Ha ha!

  6. Nice rear overhang; although it can't be much longer than today's Scania Omnideckers can it?

    What I did like about this President prototype was the massive double front dot matrix destination displays, which literally made full use of the available aperture!