Manchester Everything - and everyone - has a price

Manchester Photo: a fantastic Manchester Photograph Featuring Everything - and everyone - has a price

Photograph Taken On Wednesday, January 20, 2021

The North Western Road Car Company Limited is fading from the memory now, but from the 1920s to the 1970s it was one of the biggest and most famous bus companies in the North of England. Its bus services served a huge swathe of territory from Northwich in the West to the Peak District fringes of Sheffield in the East, and from Rochdale in the North to Matlock in the South. Its end was brought about because many of its services, and almost all of its most profitable ones, were in the south of Greater Manchester and SELNEC wanted to control these - and was willing to buy the part of North Western that was in its area. What was left after that simply wasn't viable, so North Western's owner the National Bus Company split the remainder up between neighbours Trent, Crosville and Potteries. It was a pioneer in many ways, experimenting with Atkinson underfloor-engined buses, and it later tried air-cooled engines and innovative heating systems. More conventionally it was one of the first companies in the BET group of companies to buy the Daimler Fleetline, and specifying modern, striking bodywork by Alexander. One is illustrated in the comments below. Yet, following the first Fleetlines, North Western went two steps back and bought some AEC 'Renown' buses like 123 here. Now, the Renown was a perfectly good bus - North Western had bought some previously - and importantly, like the Fleetline, it had low-height construction to clear the many low bridges in the company's area. But it looked old-fashioned compared to the Fleetlines that preceded them, and the AEC straight-cut gearbox even sounded old-fashioned. And the Fleetlines had been very successful, with almost no teething problems. So why did NWRCC go backwards? The answer, on this occasion, was money. Some municipal operators tried Atlanteans and Fleetlines and reverted to traditional types for a while because they didn't like the complexity of the new types; but the decision in this case landed on the desk of George Brook, North Western's General Manager. It was well-known that George liked a bargain, and AEC were offering the Renown very cheaply because of the threat of the Fleetline to its business. So the AEC was offered at a very attractive price, and it was still on the list of approved models in the BET group, so George drove a hard bargain and added them. The irony is that by the time they arrived George had moved on within BET and they arrived with the name of Bill Leese, his successor, on the side; but North Western got good use out of their AEC Renowns and they survived to be passed on to SELNEC and Crosville when North Western was broken up. None survive today but you can still see North Western buses - including one of the new Daimler Fleetlines - at the Museum of Transport Greater Manchester. If you'd like to know more about the Museum of Transport and its collection of vintage buses, go to © Greater Manchester Transport Society. All rights reserved. Unauthorised reproduction is strictly prohibited and may result in action being taken to protect the intellectual property interests of the Society.View image on Flickr

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