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Thursday, 11 March 2010

Chinese puzzles

Here's a new story prompted by a photo of First 30224 at a scrapyard (see below).

When my company was owned by the Chinese there were many things for us to learn as they do business in a different way. There are many facets to this and we didn't have a manual!

It was a great coup for our Chinese owner to have a 'western' subsidiary so we would be often 'on parade' to impress others (often after a long flight!).

Other things were harder to predict: when we were invited to become one of the first corporate sponsors of the London Transport Museum I wasn't sure they would buy it. Worse still when we went on a VIP tour, lead by our Chief Executive T T Tsui, the visit was incredibly brief. Chinese delegations always have lots of people in them (many of whom are never seen again) and on this occasion the group was so long the CEO was through and leaving before the back markers had even started!

Bad news indeed but with a wave of his hand he said "We do" and disappeared.

Only much later, when we discussed it, did he say, in that profound wisdom of the Chinese "All of the answers to the problems of today are contained in our past." [How true is that?]

And so we became the very first Corporate Friend of the LT Museum.

Anyway we also learned that 8s were lucky and a multitude of them demonstrated much good fortune.

So we registered our buses with '888' plates, using the initials of anyone we could think of. For one or two of the Chinese we did even better - Billy Wu, our corporate lawyer, got K888BWU.

We had many buses with 888 plates. So there was, of course K888LAD for me and I am delighted to publish above 162 posed alongside our 164 K888BFG, when new, for Brendan Glyde who is still my good friend, who was our Finance Director and was the architect of our success for so many years.

Now, so many years later the old 162 is headed for the breakers' yard and is shown here having served us and First so well.

Looking back on our tendering successes of the time, those 888s were indeed lucky.
And an added benefit. I do remember someone ringing to say that one of our buses had just clipped his wing mirror. I said "Did you get the number?" He said "I think it was 888 something.........!!"



  1. I can see that 162 was retro fitted with proper seats, rather than the hard plastic shells they had when new. As a (former) 296 user, I can confirm they were extremely uncomfortable!

  2. We first saw Arianne seats on two demonstration vehicles built by Northern Counties on Dennis Dominator chassis. One had the new Rolls Royce LG1200 engine which we were optimistic about, and one with Cummins. (They became our 181 and 182). As the LG1200 vehicle was for the Coach and Bus Show it was showing off the seats as well.

    Rather like garden chairs they were more comfortable than they looked and they did start the fashion of individual seats rather than benches. It is normal now.

    However far from being vandal proof they learned how to prise them apart, wrote on them and set them alight. They turned out to be less durable than traiditional seats and in time vehicles were converted to standard seats and the 'float' used the keep up with the replacement of the others.


  3. Was 30224 a Detonator or a Limpalong?