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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 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.