Thanks to a benefactor who wishes to remain anonymous, Friends of King Alfred Buses (FoKAB) has taken ownership of a fully restored Leyland Lion single deck bus built in 1929. This vehicle, registered RU 8678, was B268 in the fleet of Hants & Dorset Motor Services (H&D) from 1929 until 1948 and is believed to be the only operational pre-war H&D bus still in existence.
Since 2003 it has been based at the Scottish Vintage Bus Museum (SVBM) where its previous owners, the late Douglas Scoular and his son Ross, had rebuilt the vehicle. It is now to return to its original home in Hampshire.
The bus is being repainted into the green and ivory livery of King Alfred Motor Services, but the long-term plan is to restore it to its original H&D condition, in time for its centenary in 2029.
King Alfred owned two very similar Leyland Lions (registered OT 8608/9), so FoKAB can now demonstrate what these buses looked, sounded and felt like.
This one survived because it became a motor caravan for almost twenty years, before being found and rescued in 1967, going initially to the West of England Transport Collection at Winkleigh in Devon.
It moved on twice before passing in partially deconstructed form to Jasper Pettie of the SVBM at Lathalmond in Fife, Scotland. From 2003 it was taken on by father and son team Douglas and Ross Scoular, who carried out a comprehensive rebuild of the bus, effectively back to original specification. They took one liberty, however. They decided to present the vehicle in the livery of Edinburgh Corporation Transport which was local and had some very similar vehicles.
Sadly, Douglas died in the early part of 2022 and his son Ross decided to refocus his activities, leading to the difficult decision to find a new home for the Lion.
In Winchester it will join FoKAB’s other two pre-war vehicles, the well-known Dennis 30 cwt 18-seater of 1931 owned for over thirty years and the recently reinvigorated 1935 Albion Victor 20-seater coach, as part of the King Alfred fleet. It is therefore expected to be the star attraction at The Original King Alfred Running Day based on Winchester Broadway on Bank Holiday Monday 1st May 2023.