Looking back... Maidstone & District double deck evaluations in the late 1970's

For our final Looking back... feature of the year our regular guest blogger Philip Slynn recalls the evaluation of MCW Metropolitan and Volvo Ailsa double deckers by the National Bus Company in the South East in the late seventies, he comments: "In 1976 The National Bus Company embarked upon a series of vehicle trials and placed in service 5 MCW Metropolitan DDS and 5 Alexander bodied Volvo Ailsas. These were operated initially in Hastings by Maidstone & District where they were trialled against Bristol VRs. Later they were moved Chatham where they were also trialled against Atlanteans and Fleetlines."

Metro Scania 25
First we have fleet number 5252 which is one of the batch of MCW Metropolitans (c) Philip Slynn.

Metro Scania 28
Next is similar vehicle 5254, but this time an offside view, which judging by the closeness of it must have sneaked up on me (c) Philip Slynn.

Bristol 882
One of the Bristol VRs in the trial was this Leyland engined example. Fleet no 5104 (c) Philip Slynn.

Bristol 881
Gardner engined VRs were also part of the trial and this one is fleet no 5102 (c) Philip Slynn.

Volvo 73
We now come to the Volvo Ailsas in the trial and this one parked at the depot is fleet no 5383. The particular week I was there, the Volvos were quite elusive and difficult to catch in service (c) Philip Slynn.

Preserved Maidstone & Dist Ailsa 5385(LKP385P
A far as I am aware, none of the batches of VRs or Metropolitans made it into preservation, but one of the Ailsas did, and this example is fleet no 5385 and is seen here entering Duxford for Showbus 2012. I photographed this in a dark corner of the depot in 1976 when it did not have the fleet no in such bold numbers on the upper deck. I believe this would have been applied on its move to the Medway towns, as all the Maidstone & District pictures I have seen in that area had fleet numbers in similar places (c) Philip Slynn.

Many thanks to Philip for the photos and captions used in this feature.