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Kit No. HD 38

Bristol L5G 1938 Beadle body - Hants & Dorset


Background note – Hants & Dorset

The origins of Hants & Dorset lie in the creation of “Bournemouth & District” in 1916 by William Graham, a Bournemouth car hire and garage proprietor, and by Walter Flexman French, the “founding father” of Southdown and Maidstone & District, amongst other bus companies. With an infusion of funds from the Tilling and British Automobile Traction (BAT) companies, Bournemouth & District became Hants & Dorset Motor Services Ltd in 1920, with William Graham as General Manager. By the thirties the company had expanded to cover the whole of southern Hampshire, with depots at Poole, Bournemouth, Ringwood, Lymington, Southampton, Woolston, Eastleigh, Winchester and Fareham.

An agreement with Elliott Bros of Bournemouth precluded the operation of tours and excursions, but the purchase of Elliott Bros’ “Royal Blue” business and of Tourist Coaches of Southampton by the Tilling Group in 1935 placed their tours and excursions business under the control of Hants & Dorset, while their express coach services were placed under the control of Southern and Western National.

Under the powers of the Railway (Road Transport) Acts of 1928, the Southern Railway had acquired a shareholding in Hants & Dorset equal to that of Tilling and BAT and in 1942 the division of the interests of Tilling and BAT placed Hants & Dorset under Tilling control, eventually to be sold to the British Transport Commission in 1948. 

The Bristol L5Gs

After many years of allegiance to the Leyland marque, Hants and Dorset changed to the Bristol L5G as its standard single decker in 1938 and took delivery of 37 up to 1940. These were bodied by J. C. Beadle Ltd of Dartford with a distinctive half-canopy body, with sliding front entrance door and sliding roof. A particular characteristic was the pronounced “hump” in front of the sliding roof, which became even more pronounced, when the sliding roof was removed after the Second World War.

The Bristol L type 17’ 6” wheelbase single deck chassis was introduced in 1938 as successor to the previous J type and some 800 had been built by 1942, when production ceased, to be resumed in 1946. The majority of the chassis built prior to the Second World War were L5Gs with Gardner 5 cylinder 5LW diesel engines. All pre-war L types had the tall “KV’ radiator and bonnet.

The first 18, delivered to Hants & Dorset in 1938, had 31 seat bodies and the remaining 19 delivered in 1939 and 1940 had 34 seat bodies. They were numbered in the TS series. Hants and Dorset used prefix letters for chassis types, progressing as new types were introduced, and “T” was the next letter when its first Bristols were introduced in 1938. Apart from the allocation of “Q” to the ex Elliott Brothers AEC Q coaches, these letters did not have any connection to the chassis type, but it was perhaps incongruous that a fleet like Hants and Dorset, with large numbers of Titans and Tigers, used TD and TS for its Bristol Ks and Ls!

Another quirk of the Hants & Dorset was that until 1938 the buses only received even fleet numbers, presumably to make the fleet seem larger than it really was! Note that some of the 1938 and 1939 deliveries were registered in Southampton (CR, OW and TR). I do not know if this had anything to do with allocation to the eastern area of the company. However from late 1939 Hants & Dorset registered all its new buses in Bournemouth (EL, LJ and RU). In 1950 the 36 surviving Ls were renumbered 729 to 764, less TS 804, which had been destroyed in 1941 during an air-raid at Gosport.

Post War Modifications

After the war the sliding roofs were removed and panelled over and many received cut away rear overhangs for use on Route 7 between Bournemouth and Swanage. This required crossing the entry to Poole Harbour via the Sandbanks Chain Ferry and a cut away rear was necessary due to the angle of the ferry ramp. Sandbanks Ferry buses included 734 (BOW 167), 735 (BOW 168), 738 (EEL 800), TS707 (ERU 518), 749 (CCR 855), 756 (FLJ 428) and 761 (FLJ 434). Later modifications also included removal of the nearside destination indicator, replacement of the glass rain shields above the windows by solid metal louvres and removal of the moulded waist rail. On some buses the front registration plate was moved from below the radiator to the front dash below the windscreen. It seems probable that each was different in its own way, so please check your chosen bus against photographs!

Sandbanks Ferry 734 (BOW 167) was rebuilt in 1950 with a full width front canopy with Tilling style route indicator, while a rear route indicator was fitted below the rear window. This had the ultimate destination at the top and a “square” number plate in the lower off-side corner with stop and rear light above. A similar conversion of 748 (CCR 855) had the ultimate destination at the bottom and the number plate in horizontal format below it, with the stop and rear lights to the right. Both these buses had a divided rear window, no doubt because insertion of the destination indicator weakened support to the waist rail. For Route 7 the destination was SWANAGE and the “via” blind was for CANFORD CLIFFS/SANDBANKS FERRY/STUDLAND, in three lines.

736 (BOW 169) (not cut away at the rear!) was similarly converted with a full width front canopy, but was also converted to rear entrance style, with an external sliding door. This was sold to Wilts & Dorset in 1952, where it was numbered 504. 738 (EEL 800) with original style body and Sandbanks Ferry rear was also sold to Wilts & Dorset in 1952, becoming 505.

In 1949 eleven of these buses received new ECW rear entrance bodies, low bonnets and PV2 radiators, making them almost undistinguishable from the post-war Ls in the fleet. A further eight were rebodied in 1950/1951, using almost new Beadle rear entrance bodies, which had originally been used to rebody pre-war Leyland Lions. These also received low bonnets and PV2 radiators. The last of the remaining buses with original body survived in service until 1958.

The following fleet list details were obtained from Peter Gould’s very useful and comprehensive website:



Fleet No

1950 renumbering


1938 (9)

BOW 162 – 170
Chassis 46.1 – 46.9

TS 662 – 678 (evens only)

729 – 737

730, 732 rebodied ECW
733 rebodied Beadle

1938 (9)

EEL 800 – 808
Chassis 46.10 - 46.18

TS 680 – 696 (evens only)

738 – 746

739, 744 rebodied ECW
741, 745, 746 rebodied Beadle

1939 (2)

CCR 854 – 855
Chassis 48.142 - 48.143

TS 700 – 701

747 – 748

747 rebodied Beadle

1939 (7)

ERU 513 – 519
Chassis 48.144 - 48.150

TS 702 – 708

749 – 755

750, 752 rebodied ECW
749, 753, 754 rebodied Beadle

1940 (10)

FLJ 428 – 437
Chassis 52.001 - 52.010

TS 801 - 810

756 – 764 (excludes TS 804)

TS 804 (FLJ 431) destroyed at Gosport 1941
757, 758, 760, 762, 764 rebodied ECW

Livery Notes and Modelling Details

The model makes provision for a sliding roof, which can be created from a 20 x 40 mm sheet of 30 thou styrene. To fit this, the curved fairing behind the front roof “hump” needs to be trimmed away. If the roof is required in its open position, the model roof will need to be cut away in line with the rebates provided on the inside. For the Sandbanks Ferry version the rear skirts need to be cut away in line with the shape of the chassis unit. Half drop windows were provided in all the large oblong windows, except for that behind the nearside sliding entrance door. Note also that I have made the dog-rails “solid” to simplify casting, but they are on a 10 thou backing so can be opened out if required by means of a small drill and a sharp knife.

Hants and Dorset’s pre war livery for the L5Gs was Tilling Green up to the top of the windows and including the rear roof dome. The roof was cream as was the narrow waist rail. Green was also applied to the surrounds of the front route indicators. The canvas covered sliding roof appears to have been darker, perhaps a fawny canvas colour. The gold fleet name was applied in an arched style, with a level top, the “HANTS” letters gradually becoming shorter until the & was reached and then gradually becoming taller up to the “T” in “DORSET”.

During war-time the cream roofs were over painted in mid grey, retaining the cream waist rail. The cream roofs were restored in 1944 for a short period after the war.

From about 1948 the buses were repainted in standard Tilling Group livery. The roofs became green and cream was now applied to the area round the side windows only and excluding the waist rail. The fleet name was now applied as HANTS & DORSET, with a taller “H” and “T”.

The “TS” fleet numbers were applied to the side of the bonnet and below the offside driver’s cab window in gold, shadowed to the right in black. The 1950 fleet numbers were on cast metal plates on the cab front and on the rear of the body, set towards the near side. Initially these numbers were silver on a black background. The colour later changed to black figures on a white background and at least 737 and 756 carried this style. The colours changed in 1956 to reflect the depot allocation. Black figures on a white background remained as the Bournemouth code.


The principal source of reference for this model was “Hants & Dorset” by the late David Fereday Glenn – Ian Allan 1985. In particular is a 1946 photograph of TS 703 (ERU 514) at Southampton in the revived pre-war livery, dressed for the Winchester via Eastleigh and Twyford service.

“British Bus Celebration – South Central England” by Malcolm Keeley and Paul Gray – Capital Transport, 1984 – has an excellent 1948 Alan Cross photograph of TS 707 (ERU 518) at Bournemouth in post-war livery and with the Sandbanks Ferry cutaway rear.  Other useful sources are Prestige Series “Hants & Dorset” by Mike Caldicott and Phil Davies – Venture Publications, 2005, and Glory Days “Hants & Dorset” by James Prince – Ian Allan, 2006. “Classic Bus” No 80 has a good photograph of 756 (FLJ 428), the last survivor with original body, at Shell Bay, awaiting foot passengers off the Sandbanks Ferry.

Best of luck with your model!

© Tony Swift, Kirribilli, NSW, Australia – 2009

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