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Wings Tour Bus Special on BBC Radio Featuring Denny Seiwell

On Saturday night at 10pm, Nick Coffer hosted a special Wings Tour Bus show on BBC Three Counties Radio. (September 19th, 2020)

Nick spoke to owner, Tom Jennings, as well as Geoffrey Cleghorn, one of the people that painted the bus for the 1972 “Wings Over Europe” tour.

Nick also interviewed Denny Seiwell, the original Wings drummer, who travelled around Europe on the bus on the 1972 tour.

There was also a surprise guest, Chris Edwards. His father worked as a Transport Manager for Silverline, in Hounslow, the 1972 owners, and then worked at subsequent owners, Tricentrol in Dunstable. Chris himself also did odd-jobs on the bus, such as cleaning out leaves and confetti.

Chris had responded to an earlier plug for the show asking for people to get in contact who had local knowledge about the bus.

You can listen to the show online for at least the next month.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/p08qvcvw

More Pictures And A Request For Help

We would like your help with the creation of a comprehensive vehicle history. Whilst we have the vehicle’s ownership and location history more-or-less complete, we are also interested in hearing from people with their own recollections of WNO 481.

Tricentrol and Dunstable

We have quite a few pictures, and know most of the details of our bus’s time with Tricentrol. This is from the company takeover of Halls Coaches/Silverline Tours in 1973, to the bus being sold-on in 1982. However, we have not been able to connect with anyone who worked for Tricentrol, in Dunstable, from 1975 – 1982, when our bus was stationed there.

It is appreciated that this was a long time ago, however we have made contact with people from earlier than this, so we hope to be able to do this, too.

It is also possible that the people working at Tricentrol in Dunstable were not aware of the bus’s prior history. We do not know where and when the mustard/gold Tricentrol livery was applied and it could have been added when it was still at the Cowley Road, Uxbridge depot, between 1973 -1975. It could therefore have arrived in Dunstable with its Wings livery already covered over.

Bearing that in mind, we would like to speak/make contact with anyone who worked for Tricentrol at Dunstable, who knows of, remembers, or even worked on their open-top, double-decker bus, from 1975 – 1982. We are pretty sure that this was the only one Tricentrol had – and certainly the only Bristol KSW.

We’d love to speak to drivers in particular, but also admin staff, who may have known about its bookings, or even its being sold-on, or anyone else from there who recalls anything about our bus.

St Albans, Godfrey Davis and the BAFTA Rally to Cannes

We would also like to make contact with anyone who had any dealings with WNO 481 during its St Albans days, between 1982 – 1993. This would include anyone who worked at Godfrey Davis, who has knowledge of our bus, as we know there was a relationship between them and Roger White, the owner at the time.

Our bus’s livery is believed to have been put back to the Wings livery in 1982 (after Tricentrol), then changed into a red/white livery for the 1989 BAFTA London – Cannes Rally, before reverting back to the Wings livery, prior to going to Amsterdam, in April 1993, and then being sold-on, in August 1993.

We would be particularly interested to hear from anyone involved in the red/white livery change and anyone who may have gone on the BAFTA rally, in 1989. Again, as with Tricentrol and its time in Dunstable, we would be happy to hear from anyone with any personal knowledge or experience of our bus, between 1982 – 1993.

Brian Phillips

Brian Phillips was one of the younger workers at the Halls/Silverline depot at Cowley Road, Uxbridge, when WNO 481 was there in 1972. We believe he is in one of the pictures below and may have knowledge about the bus from that time.

After leaving there, Mr Phillips started Phillips Motorcycles, based off Hayes Road, in Southall, London. It is understood that he worked there with his son/a son. The last we know of Mr Phillips and his business was from about 15 years ago and it seems to have since gone.

If you could put us in contact with Mr Phillips, or his family, not only might we be delighted, but so might one of his former workmates.

If you do know of anyone else at all who worked for Halls Coaches aka Silverline Tours aka Valliant Silverline, out of the Cowley Road depot, Uxbridge, we would also like to make contact with them.

Charlie and Lucky Smith

Charlie was one of the original Wings livery painters in 1972. Lucky was his daughter – and many were lucky she was around in July 1972, because it was her ruler that got used to draw and design the “W” for the Wings logo that got bolted to the back of the bus and used by the band from then on.

Charlie also hasn’t been heard from in about 15 years and is believed to have spent time in the US doing “Art Direction”.

You guessed it – we’d love to make contact with them, as I’m sure are others that we are in contact with.

OK, Now Those Pictures…

Another angle of WNO 481 at Epsom on Derby Day, 1972. Photo by Paul Bateson, used with permission.

The full Great British Film Rally livery, taken circa 1989. Image from Roger White, courtesy of Greg White.

This picture above has been identified as being taken at the Cowley Road, Uxbridge depot, when the Wings livery was first applied, circa July 1972. We believe the man exiting from the rear is the aforementioned Brian Phillips. Picture from Roger White, courtesy of Greg White.

Wings livery + "Oslo" taken Jan 73 at Brunel Uni by Tony Wilson

It really wasn’t taken in Oslo. Honest! Don’t believe the web sites or anyone that says so! This was taken at Brunel University at the previously mentioned Bus Rally there, in January 1973, that went on to become Showbus.com. This image you may see us use quite a bit. Thanks to Tony Wilson for the permission and for the confirmation of its date/location.

More History and Images of WNO 481

There was some surprise amongst our followers that the livery on WNO 481 had changed at all since the 1972 “Wings Over Europe” tour.

We are compiling a comprehensive history that will be published here in due course. We thought however, in the meantime, that we could give a bit more information on these liveries and post a few more pictures.

The Eastern Bus Liveries

WNO 481 was built and registered in 1953 as a standard double-decker. It has a Bristol KSW5G chassis from Bristol Commercial Vehicles and a body from the Eastern Coach Works, Lowestoft. The bus first entered service with Eastern National Omnibus Company Limited, Chelmsford, with a plain green livery.

Here’s a video of a preserved Bristol KSW5G (VNO 859) to indicate what our bus would have looked like in its early days.

WNO 481 was Converted to an open-top in 1966. It was given a cream livery, with a green trim, including around the wheels and engine. Below is an image of WNO 479, appearing in Eastern National colours. WNO 479 has an identical open-top conversion to WNO 481.

Photo from Wikipedia, uploaded by Dave Catchpole.

Our bus changed hands in 1968 and moved to Eastern Counties Omnibus Company Limited, Norwich. Here, it’s green trim was exchanged for a maroon red.

WNO 481 at The Epsom Derby,  29 May, 1968. Photo by Paul Bateson, used with permission.

Silverline and the Wings Tour

Our bus was sold on to a dealer in July 1971. Late in that year it was acquired by Halls Coaches, trading as (T/A) Silverline Tours.

Halls had, not long before this, acquired Valliant Cronshaw, another coach firm. Their combined vehicles utilised Valliant’s red and grey liveries and used the name “Valliant Silverline”. WNO 481 had such a livery and was seen at Epsom with it, on Derby Day, 1972.

WNO 481 at The Epsom Derby,  7 June, 1972. You can just make out “Valliant Silverline” on its left side. Photo by Paul Bateson, used with permission.

The Wings livery was applied shortly before the tour, probably in July, given accounts of the time.

We are not sure how long the Wings livery stayed in place but we do know it was still there in January 1973. This is when WNO 481 attended the Brunel University Bus Rally that became ShowBus.

The Ownership Passes to Tricentrol

Halls, T/A Silverline, was acquired by Tricentrol in or about August 1973. In 1975, WNO 481 was moved to Dunstable, which is where we believe it acquired the mustard-gold Tricentrol livery that would stay in place until at least 1982.

WNO 481 at the ShowBus Rally, Thorpe Park, 7 September 1980. Photo by David Mant. Used with permission.

This may be a good point to note a correction to the previous post. The pictures taken of WNO 481 in Tricentrol’s livery in Volendam and Amsterdam were of a one-off Bus Rally, not the actual Tulip Rally. The British contingent called it their version of that rally at the time, “The Tulip Bus Rally”. Our thanks to Frans Angevaare for pointing this out.

The St Albans Saviour

Tricentrol had slated WNO 481 to be scrapped when it was acquired in 1982 by Roger White of St Albans. We believe, from his family’s recollections, that the bus was repainted with its Wings livery after that. This was until 1989, when, assisted by Godfrey Davis, the bus was given the red/white livery it sported for the BAFTA London – Cannes Rally of that year.

The livery for the London-Cannes Great British Film Rally, circa May 1989. Photo from the Roger White Collection, courtesy of Greg White.

Our previous post asked about a picture of WNO 481 in the above livery. We have now confirmed that it was taken at the Southend Bus Rally of 1989.

We are not entirely sure, but we believe the red/white livery was retained for a few years until shortly before the bus was auctioned by Sotheby’s, in August 1993.

WNO 481 back with its Wings. This photo is believed to be from just prior to it attending a Beatles convention in Amsterdam on 10 April 1993 (see flyer). Photo from the Roger White Collection, courtesy of Greg White.

When the Wings livery was reapplied before the auction, it was, to the best of our knowledge, the third time it had been painted onto WNO 481. It is also the one that remains on our bus to this day.

If you have any photos, memories or stories about The 1972 Wings Tour Bus, whether it was in its Wings livery, or at any time before or since then, do please get in touch. We’d love to hear from you!

We’d also like to hear from anyone who worked for Hall Coaches/Silverline Tours and Tricentrol that had any involvement in WNO 481, or if you know someone who did.

More Historical Photos

A lot of people are helping with the history of the 1972 Wings Tour Bus. Here is a selection of photos that have been agreed to be used/shared.

(Note: You may need to mouseover the image for the attribution.)

Still With Its Wings

bryanb27m4 circa Jan 1973 Wings Livery, Brunel Uni

bryanb27m4 

 

The above photo is noted as a “Halls Valliant” bus (aka Halls Coaches, aka Silverline Tours), taken circa 1972-75. However, it has since been confirmed that this picture was taken at Brunel University for its first ever ShowBus event, in January 1973.

Here’s another from that event, with WNO 481 in the convoy.

 

ShowBus Event, Brunel Uni, Jan 1973

ShowBus Event, Brunel Uni, Jan 1973, from ShowBus.com

Tricentrol Colours

Epsom Derby Day 1976 John Law

Epsom Derby Day 1976. Taken by John Law

 

On Epsom Derby Day it was likely that WNO 481 would attend. It was there regularly between 1966 – 1980. The above photo is from 1976.

Dunstable Silver Jubilee Carnival 6 June 1977 by Andrew Read

Dunstable Silver Jubilee Carnival, 6 June 1977, Taken by Andrew Read aka “Pentakrom”

 

The Dunstable Silver Jubilee Carnival occurred on 6 June 1977 and was opened by DJ Ed “Stewpot” Stewart. Apparently, The Red Arrows were also supposed to appear but bad weather prevented this. Good job WNO 481 was there!

 

Milton Keynes 1979 John LawMilton Keynes, Autumn 1979, by John Law

 

In 1980, WNO 481 attended the annual Tulip rally. It was seen in Amsterdam and nearby Volendam.

 

Steve Guess 1 March 1980 VolendamSteve Guess, March 1980, Volendam

Frans Angevaare 29 March 1980 Volendam

Frans Angevaare, 29 March 1980, Volendam

 

Here’s another Volendam photo taken by Frans Angevaare, that he dates as being 29 March 1980. This appears to be the same event as the others shown here, and is probably the correct date. Do you know if this is right?

(Correction/Addendum: From Frans Angevaare:- “It’s 40 years ago so I can’t remember in detail, but the event was organised by a friend of mine called Erik Overveld (now deceased) who worked as a driver with NZH, one of the large public transport companies in NL.
He knew Peter Newman of Ensign (don’t know how that came about) and somehow had contacts at Grey-Green. Erik used his UK contacts to get the buses to the Netherlands, I think there were just a few Dutch entrants…
The annual Tulip rally, the “real one” (Tulpenrally) was a long standing event for cars and has nothing to do with the bus rally. In fact, the bus rally was ever announced as “Tulip Rally” over here but as “Old and new Dutch Bus & Coach Rally organised by Grey-Green”.
“Tulip Bus Rally” was a sign on just a few of the UK buses.” Frans is also certain of the date.)

Steve Guess 1 March 1980 Amsterdam Tulip Rally

Steve Guess, March 1980, Amsterdam

Clive A Brown, 4 June 1980, Epsom

Clive A Brown, 4 June 1980, Epsom

Steve Guess 13 July 1980 SuttonSteve Guess, 13 July 1980, in Sutton

 

Another photo taken by Steve Guess, in Sutton Town Centre, on “The Green Line Road Run to Crawley”. This July 1980 photo is one of the last, if not the last time the bus was photographed at work in Tricentrol colours.

(Addendum: We now know the bus appeared at the ShowBus Rally in September 1980).

Cannes Rally Colours

1989/1990 Roger White collection from Greg White

From the Roger White Collection, c1989, courtesy of Greg White

 

Did you know WNO 481 went to Cannes? It was for a rally arranged by BAFTA in 1989 to promote the British Film Industry and raise money for Save The Children. WNO 481 was given a red/white livery for the event, which it is believed was retained for a few years until c1993, when it was returned to its Wings livery.

The above image is thought to be from 1989, possibly 1990, but it is not in Cannes. It may have been at the Southend Rally, the ShowBus Rally, or another (Radlett has been mentioned). Can you date and place it?

Addendum: We have now confirmed that this picture was taken at the 1989 Southend Bus Rally.

If you have any photos, memories or stories about The 1972 Wings Tour Bus, whether it was in its Wings livery, or at any time before or since then, do please get in touch. We’d love to hear from you!

 

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