The Long Nationals: LN, LNC, LNB

This page created 19th January 2000 by Ian Smith, updated 6th June 2001. Best on 800*600.

LN 1-23

Superbus National The National was British Leyland's future-bus for Britain and the world. Whereas bus companies had traditionally selected a chassis of their choice and then had it bodied by their choice of body-builder, incorporating all their local prejudices and special requirements into the design, the National was to be a proper mass-production bus, incorporating the best of design practice to produce a bus that could go anywhere and do anything. In practice, of course, it didn't turn out like that, in that the standard National could NOT go everywhere, mainly due to its overhangs and turning circle, and was outwith the regulations in several target export countries. But back to London.

London Country, a loyal National Bus Company subsidiary by now, was early in the queue for Leyland Nationals. The first were standard, off-the-peg dual-door 11.3m (37ft) buses. What was perhaps unusual was the livery of the first few: bright yellow and blue for the Stevenage Superbus network.

LN1 (National #000003) arrived at Reigate in mid-April 1972, painted overall yellow. (British Leyland would only paint buses one colour!). It wasn't quite up to scratch, and had to be returned to Workington for rectification. Back at Reigate it received its blue window surrounds and Superbus logos. The first two started work at Stevenage (SV) in September 1972, with K-registrations, followed by two more with L-reg plates and Superbus livery in December. They joined Swifts (SM) and Metro Scanias (MS) on routes SB1 and SB2.

Route NoRouteGarage
SB1Stevenage (Gunnels Wood Rd) - Bus Stn - ChellsSV Stevenage
SB2Stevenage Bus Stn - St NicholasSV Stevenage
Long National

Further buses followed, now in the mandatory overall NBC leaf green (NBC management had declared that local tradition and initiative was a BAD THING, and that all National Bus Company buses had to be in poppy red or leaf green (or maybe navy blue) within two years- so there!)

Happy garages receiving the new buses included Hatfield (HF) for Hatfield & Welwyn G.C. town routes, and Dunton Green (DG) (for the 402, 431 and 493).

LN8-11 were delivered on loan to Nottingham City Transport, but LNB8, 10 and 11 were subsequently sent to Hants & Dorset in exchange for three Metro-Scanias, leaving just LN9 to return to service with London Country.

LNC (LNB) 24-70

By now British Leyland were starting to soften their original hard stance, as bus companies around the country voiced their objections at having to buy dual-door city buses for inter-urban routes. A single-door version was to be allowed as well. London Country jumped at the opportunity to buy something to replace the remaining RFs, Reliances, Routemasters and Swifts on GreenLine duties. The RFs were old, the Reliances and Swifts unreliable, and the Routemasters (with two crew) expensive. So despite the Nationals having just the bog-standard bus seating, 47 were purchased.
Long Coach National The buses were painted in the dual-purpose livery of green and white. Customers could tell from the outside that these were Green Line services by the fleetname on the front and the traditional yellow blinds. Not much else was of GreenLine quality, with pvc-covered bus seats and no luggage racks.

The first, LNC 23, was delivered before the end of 1972, and there were enough by March 73 to give the passengers on the 721 a nasty shock. Their Reliance RPs, with coach seats etc, were shuffled elsewhere, and the Brentwood run was back to utility style. Other routes received the brutality treatment, and RFs were retired in droves. LNCs went to Tring and Chelsham for the 706, and High Wycombe and Reigate for the 711.

Route NoRouteGarage
721Brentwood - Romford - London (Aldgate)RE Romford
706Aylesbury - London - WesterhamTG Tring
CM Chelsham
711High Wycombe - London - ReigateRG Reigate
HE High Wycombe

Long Bus National But perhaps someone listened to the voices of complaint and rather better (short) Leyland Nationals with coach seats were to be acquired.

The LNCs were gradually replaced by the better SNCs with coach seats, as they became available, and were declassified to bus status as LNBs. Numbers and fleetnames were changed, although most retained their green and white dual purpose livery until 1980 or later.
LN8 at Cobham October 1999 London Country standardised on the shorter Nationals, overall building up the largest total fleet of Nationals in the UK, with a total of 543. The 70 long versions fell from favour, and by 1980 all the dual door LN variety were in store, or sold to other NBC operators, with LN7 taken into the service fleet as an information and sales bus. The LNBs continued their punishing work around the edges of the London Area, before eventual retirement or further service with other companies.
Several went to People's Provincial in Hampshire, and another group went to East Kent before moving on to Stenalink. There they provided the first taste of English public transport for those distinctly second-class passengers who cross the Channel without cars.

LN 8 has survived to preservation, and is seen here at Depot 42, Mike Nash's Leyland National emporium near Cobham Museum, on the occasion of the RF Running Day, October 1999.

Others had interesting histories:

LN13 was bought by Shearings in 1984 and became the waiting room for National Holidays passengers changing coaches at Scratchwood Services, just north of London. In 1992 Luton and District acquired it as a training vehicle, plated over the centre doors, and painted it yellow.

Long National LNB64 was converted into a Mobility Bus, with a wheelchair lift and 25 seats, and was allocated to LCNE and then Sovereign.

LNB69 was also converted into a Mobility Bus, with a wheelchair lift and 17 proper coach seats at the rear! It was painted in the pale green/dark green flashes/white GreenLine livery by LCNW, and was occasionally pressed into Green Line service.

There was surprise in 1990 when London & Country started buying second-hand long Nationals, using their extra capacity to replace the 60-seater RN-class Reliances. Further long Nationals arrived in the London & Country fleet from the take-over of Alder Valley in 1990. LNC27 at Depot42 October 1999


Apart from dual-door LN8, single-door LNC27 is also in process of restoration. I would be delighted to hear of others.

Other sites with news/pics of LN type Nationals:

LNC27 sitting in the autumn rain at Depot42, October 1999.

bus histories photo refs

Ian's Bus Stop Short Nationals: London Country Nationals: London Buses