The Leyland National was conceived as a joint venture between British Leyland and the National Bus Company to replace all the rear-engined single-deckers in the British Leyland Group - the AEC Swift, Leyland Panther, Daimler Roadliner, single-deck Daimler Fleetline, and Bristol RE.
The Leyland National was built at a new factory at Lillyhall in Cumbria and had several novel features, including integral construction, a sophisticated heating and ventilation system that meant a rear pod on the roof, and a turbocharged 8.3-litre horizontal Leyland engine. Most Leyland Nationals were 10.3 or 11.3 metres long and the first was delivered to Cumberland Motor Services in March 1972, registered ERM 35K. Over 7,000 Leyland Nationals were built, but it never achieved its full production targets due to the advent of one-person-operated double-deckers. The last Leyland National was registered C49 OCM and delivered to Halton Transport in November 1985.
Utilising their fantastic collections of previously unpublished images, Peter Horrex and Robert Appleton pay tribute to this popular and iconic chariot of the people.
Peter Horrex was born and grew up around Ipswich in Suffolk, taking a keen interest in the buses of Eastern Counties after his first ride on a Bristol Lodekka at the age of thirteen. Over forty years later, the era of the National Bus Company and Bristol-built vehicles with ECW bodywork are still his favourite. Robert Appleton grew up near Manningtree, Essex and spent some time in Watford and Manchester before returning to north-east Essex. He is a keen amateur photographer, with a particular interest is buses.