This is one of the most significant heritage acquisitions that the Museum has ever undertaken and we need to raise £300,000 to secure the final purchase of all three vehicles by September 2017. Your donation is crucial in helping us safeguard the future of these vehicles in our collection for visitors today and for the enjoyment of generations to come.
These three buses – the 1908 X-type London Central double-decker, the oldest surviving British-built bus, The 1914 LNWR ‘Torpedo’ charabanc and the 1924 LB5 ‘Chocolate Express’ – represent important points in transport’s history and in the development of London’s transport story. Together they mark the birth of the motor bus at the beginning of the 20th century, the beginnings of affordable coach travel before the First World War, and the independent ‘pirate’ operators’ challenge to the monopoly of the London General Omnibus Company in the 1920s.
1908 Leyland X 2
This double deck bus is an incredibly rare survivor from the first generation of motorbuses, and is in fact the oldest surviving Leyland motorbus. It is historically important in marking the experimental transition in London from horse buses to motor bus services. When acquired, the X-type bus will be the oldest complete motor vehicle in the Museum collection.
1914 ‘Torpedo’ charabanc
Before the First World War the experience of private motoring was only available to the wealthy. Charabancs allowed the masses to access the countryside and coastal resorts in greater numbers and contributed to the growth of the leisure coach industry between the wars.
This 1914 model is the only surviving full-size ‘Torpedo’ charabanc (with seven rows of seats) and is one of only two surviving charabancs, all others being replicas. Both the chassis (model S4.36.T3) and its 32 seat body were built by Leyland Motors.
1924 The Chocolate Express
Representing the best remembered of all the London ‘pirate’ operators, this beautifully preserved bus, with its 48 seat body designed and built by Christopher Dodson of Willesden, is truly unique.
The London General Omnibus Company (LGOC) was the principal bus operator in London. Partridge’s bus company was the first of over 250 independent ‘pirate’ operators to seize the opportunity to challenge the monopoly of the LGOC in the 1920s.
Help us acquire these exceptional vehicles for future generations to access and enjoy.