Prepared on Notepad by Ian Smith,

This page created 19th August 2012.

Large Saloons: The Leyland National successors


London Transport - and London Country - needed a replacement for their fleets of Leyland Nationals. It had already started to acquire Darts for small-bus work, but now, in 1991, it didn't know that the Dart would be able to fulfill the large-saloon role as well. LT had tried DAF-powered Optare Deltas (DA), and Lynxes in small numbers, and sampled the Renault PR100 (RN1) and the Scania N113 (SA1). So it tried a home-grown product, Dennis' heavyweight Lance.

There were several batches: 1991 saw sixteen acquired for Catford's 36B, which had been suffering unacceptable amounts of upper deck vandalism on its Routemasters. These, with Alexander bodywork, were the LA class.

1993 brought 31 to Metroline at Willesden and Cricklewood for the 302 and 113. These, the LN class, had Northern Counties Paladin bodywork. Very similar were 13 Paladins based on Volvo B10M chassis for London General, the VN class.

Then in 1994 a further twelve Lances were bought for the 208, also at Catford garage. The LV class had Plaxton Verde bodywork, that shared many features with the Dart.

But the low-floor revolution was just starting. The necessity of a low-floor to meet upcoming accessibility regulations for wheelchair access was obvious, but making the technology work was a different matter. Nevertheless Wright's of Ballymena produced the Pathfinder low-floor body in 1994, and placed it on both Lance and Scania low-floor chassis for London Buses. County Bus took Lance SLFs, as did London Country South-West and London Buses, who placed them with Stanwell Buses, Centrewest and Metroline.

Scania N113 low-floors were taken by Leaside Buses and East London, all in 1994.

Uncertain about the new technology, London Country South-West reverted to the high-floor type of Lance for fifteen buses for Crawley in 1996, which became the LS class. Later some of them moved to Arriva London as the DL class.

Then there were the Optare Excels - which warrant a whole section to themselves.


Ian's Bus Stop Large Saloons.