Bristol LH

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Bristol LH
Brislington Bristol 461 AFB592V.jpg
Manufacturer Bristol Commercial Vehicles
Body and chassis
Doors One or (rarely) two
Floor type Step entrance
Chassis ladder-section steel with dropped extensions fore and aft.
Engine Leyland, or Perkins
Capacity 25 to 53 seats
Power output 100-138 bhp
Transmission Turner Clark 5-sp synchromesh, SCG 5-speed semi-auto.
Length LH 30 feet (9.1 m)
LHS 26 feet (7.9 m)
LHL 36 feet (11 m)
Width Standard 7.5 feet (2.3 m)
Wide 8.17 feet (2.5 m)
Height up to 3.2m depending on coachwork
Curb weight varied with length and coachwork

The Bristol LH was a single-decker bus chassis built by Bristol Commercial Vehicles (BCV) in Bristol, England. Nearly 2,000 were built between 1967 and 1982 in a variety of sizes and body types, including some as goods vehicles.


The LH designation stood for Lightweight chassis, Horizontal engine. It replaced the Bristol SU and was succeeded by the Leyland National B Series for operators in need of a small or lightweight bus. The Bristol RE was in production at the same time for those in need of larger or more robust vehicles.

The standard Bristol LH model was 30 feet (9.1 m) long. It was also available as the 26 feet (7.9 m) LHS (LH Short) and the 36 feet (11 m) LHL (LH Long). The width of the chassis was 7.5 feet (2.3 m) but bodies as wide as 8.17 feet (2.5 m) the then maximum width, could be fitted, wide-bodied LHs have the wheels slightly inset in the wheelarches as a result.

The bus was available with a choice of six-cylinder diesel engines, either the Leyland O.400 (later replaced by the Leyland O.401) or the Perkins H6.354. The 5.8 litre H6.354 produced 101 bhp; the 6.54 litre O.400 had a peak output of 125 bhp whilst the 0.401 (from 1971) produced 138 bhp. The usual gearbox was a Turner-Clark synchromesh five-speed model with overdrive top gear. The front and rear axles were sourced from British Leyland's Bathgate factory. Some buses were fitted with a SCG semi-automatic transmission and power steering. The engine was positioned in the centre of the chassis but its relatively high position meant that several steps were needed in the entrance. This was arranged in the overhang ahead of the front wheels allowing one-man operation (as it was known in those days) with the driver taking the fares and issuing tickets as passengers boarded. A small number of LH's, for Lancashire United Transport, Hants & Dorset and the Midland General group were also fitted with a central exit doorway. The radiator was positioned at the front of the chassis. The suspension was by half-elliptical leaf springs, although BCV had offered pneumatic suspension on heavier buses since 1962.

An LHS with standard narrow ECW body

Bodies were fitted by different manufacturers, who adapted them to the needs of different operators. Bodies could be fitted out as buses, coaches or dual purpose buses which could be used for coach services when traffic demanded. Bus bodies usually came from the Eastern Coach Works (ECW), which was owned by the same Transport Holding Company. This was a government-owned company but Leyland had acquired a 25% share in 1965. Plaxton bodies were preferred for coaches. Other manufacturers of bodies for the LH were Walter Alexander, Duple, East Lancashire, Marshall, Northern Counties, Weymann and Willowbrook. The only Weymann body was fitted to the first LHS6L built (LHX003) to the orders of Western Welsh.[1] Weymann had been closed in 1965 and the body was originally mounted on an Albion Nimbus delivered to Western Welsh in 1961; modifications included extending the body wheelbase to match the chassis and fitting a Lodekka style grille to provide cooling for the radiator. WWOC numbered their LHS 1 and registered it MBO1F. It later passed to Thornes of Selby and is currently preserved.

An LHS coach with Plaxton Supreme V body

For the standard LH the 41-seat Plaxton coach and 43-seat ECW bus were most widely used; the bus bodies manufactured in Belfast by Alexander for Ulsterbus had 45 seats, East Midland Motor Services' ten 1969 buses were the only ones with Willowbrook bodies, as built they had 45 seats but with a 3+2 seating arrangement in three rows forward of the rear bench, making room for a pram pen, they were also unusual in carrying no grille badge, which puzzled the author of this sentence when he first came across a seemingly unidentifiable bus as a schoolboy in the mid 1970s. The LHS was produced as both buses and coaches with 26 to 35 seats. The LHL had up to 53 seats as a coach or 55 as a bus. Between 1975 and 1982 Vanplan built eight with delivery van bodies.

Altogether nearly 2,000 LHs were built: 1,505 LH, 174 LHL and 308 LHS.

Principal bus operators[edit]

The following lists only include vehicles ordered by the company named, however many took additional vehicles second-hand from other operators. The code following the chassis model 'type' column shows the number of seats. The prefix B represents a bus body, C a coach or DP a dual purpose vehicle. The suffix F shows a single front door, D shows dual front and centre doors.[2]

Alexander Midland[edit]

Alexander Midland operated 41 LHs with Walter Alexander Y-type bodies and Perkins engines in Scotland. All but the last three were coaches.

Fleet numbers Registrations Type Built
MLH1–19 SMS 671–678H, SWG 669–679H LH C38F 1970
MLH20–33 WMS 920J–925J, WWG 326J–333J LH C41F 1971
MLH34–38 BWG 334–338L LH C41F 1972
MLH39–41 BWG 339–341L LH B45F 1972

Bristol Omnibus[edit]

353 (DHW 293K)

Bristol Omnibus Company received six LH buses in 1971 with semi-automatic gearboxes. A further 110 (with manual gearboxes) were ordered for delivery between 1975 and 1980. A few more buses were acquired second hand including two LHSs from London Country.

Fleet numbers Registrations Type Built
351–356 DHW 291–296K LH B43F 1971
357–364 JHW 117–124P LH B43F 1975
365–389 KHU 315–330P, KHU 615–616P, JOU 162–165P, KHY 430–432P LH B43F 1976
390–421 OFB 963–968R, OTC 604–608R, REU 312–332S LH B43F 1977
422–433 SWS 768–774S, TTC 786–790T LH B43F 1978
434–453 WAE 186–193T, WAE 294–295T LH B43F 1979
454–466 AFB 585–597V LH B43F 1980

NB 351-356 were initially B44F but rebuilt with one less seat to allow a window to be inserted in the rear panel to improve the driver's view when reversing.


Crosville operated services in Wales and north west England. They bought 16 Perkins-engined vehicles in 1969 and 40 Leyland with engines from 1975.

Fleet numbers Registrations Type Built
SLP144–159 CFM 144–148G, DFM 149–159H LH B45F 1969
SLL601–620 KMA 531–536N, LMA 607–610P, MCA 611–620P LH B43F 1975
SLL621–640 OCA 621–640P LH B45F 1976

Eastern Counties[edit]

Eastern Counties Omnibus Company took 50 LH and 5 LHS buses between 1968 and 1972, these were all Perkins-engined and the LHS6Ps had been ordered by Luton Corporation and delivered to United Counties Omnibus Company with registrations XXE131-5H, UCOC did not want them so ECOC took them on, re-registering them with Norfolk, rather than Luton marks. Eastern Counties did not take any more new LHs until 1977 when a further 15 were added to the fleet.

Fleet numbers Registrations Type Built
LH523–531 CNG 523–526K, DNG 527–531K LH B45F 1971
LH532–537 DPW2 532K, FNG 533–534K, GNG 535–536K, HAH 537H LH B43F 1972
LHS595–599 WNG 101–105H LHS B37F 1970
LH685–692 RAH 685–692F LH B45F 1968
LH693–702 UNG 693–695G, VAH 696–702H LH B45F 1969
LH899–916 WNH 899–901H, XPW 902–906H, YAH 907–911H, YPW 912–916H LH B45F 1970
LH917–931 TCL 137–142R, TCL 136R, WEX 924–931S LH B43F 1977

Eastern National[edit]

Eastern National bought four LH6Ls in 1977, all with Leyland O.401 engines, 5-speed manual gearboxes, ECW bodies and dual headlight fronts. They were intended for the more lightly loaded rural routes and were operated out of the Colchester depot. All 4 were sold to Hedingham & District Omnibuses in 1982. One remains preserved today.

Fleet numbers Registrations Type Built
CR1100 - 1103 UVX 4S - UVX 7S LH43F (ECW) 1977

Eastern Scottish[edit]

Eastern Scottish was the only Scottish Bus Group company to order LHs apart from Alexander Midland when they took 34 Perkins-engined LHs finished by Walter Alexander as Y-type coaches.

Fleet numbers Registrations Type Built
YA315–348 OSF 315–332G, SFS 333–348H LH C38F 1970

Hants and Dorset[edit]

Hants and Dorset and the associated Wilts and Dorset company were unusual in specifying dual-door configuration for their early LHs. Buses in the 521–530 series were allocated to Wilts and Dorset, the remainder to Hants and Dorset.

Fleet numbers Registrations Type Built
521–526 REL 746 – 748H, RRU 692–694H LH B39D 1969
527–528 TRU 227–228J LH B39D 1970
529–530 UEL 567–568J LH B43F 1970
828 NLJ 817G LH B39D 1968
1539–1548 XEL 825–834K LH B43F 1971
3026–3035 REL 743–745H, RLJ 789–795H LH B39D 1969
3051–3055 TRU 220–224J LH B39D 1970
3056–3057 ULJ 367–368H LH B43F 1970
3501–3529 DEL 537–546L, NEL 844–847M, NLJ 515–529M LH B43F 1973
3530–3561 ORU 530–541M, GLJ 474–493N LH B43F 1974
3562 - 3579 HJT 34 – 48N, HPW 395 – 397N LH B43F 1975
3806–3811 LJT 939–944P LH B43F 1975


Lincolnshire is a largely rural county so Lincolnshire Road Car always had a need for a number of small buses. Their orders amounted to 72 standard buses, 24 dual purpose, and 10 LHS buses.

Fleet numbers Registrations Type Built
1001–1006 KFE 296–299H, KFE 301–302H LH B43F 1969
1007–1010 LVL 371–372H, LVL 901–902J LH B43F 1970
1011–1014 NVL 448–450K, NVL 613K LH B43F 1971
1015–1022 OVL 448–449K, OVL 451–452K, RFE 432K, RVL 248–249L, RVL 251L LH B43F 1972
1023–1029 SVL 20–23L, UVL 572–574M LH B43F 1973
1030–1035 WFE 675–679M, WFE 839M LH B43F 1974
1036–1044 JTL 774–778M, LTL 660–663P LH B43F 1975
1045–1061 SVL 830–837R, UFE 286–290R, XFW 949–956S LH B43F 1977
1062–1072 YVL 836–837S, DTL 540–548T LH B43F 1978
1651–1656 GVL 907–912F LH DP41F 1968
1657–1661 JVL 363–364G, JVL 613–614G,615H LH DP41F 1969
1662–1668 JVL 926H, KVL 449–454H LH DP41F 1970
1669–1674 NFE 644–649J LH DP41F 1971
1801–1803 GVL 913–915G LHS B35F 1968
1804–1810 JVL 701G, JVL 616–618H, JVL 927–929H LHS B35F 1969

London Country[edit]

London Country 23 standard width LHSs (their BL class) and 44 narrow LHSs (their BN class) as no other suitable narrow vehicles were available at the time.

Fleet numbers Registrations Type Built
BL1–23 RPH 101–111L, SPK 112–123L LHS B35F 1973
BL24–53 XPD 124–130N, GPD 299–321N LHS B35F 1974
BN54–67 TPJ 54–67S LHS B35F 1977

London Transport[edit]

BS5 (GHV 505N)

Several versions of the Bristol LH were used by London Transport. 17 narrow LHSs with five-speed gearboxes were delivered to in 1975 to replace Ford Transit minibuses on narrow roads. Although fitted with five-speed gearboxes the first gear was blocked off to make driving easier in traffic. In 1976 95 full length vehicles with automatic transmissions and narrow bodies were purchased. The 7 ft 6in bodies were not only because of narrow roads on some routes, but also due to the restricted space at Kingston garage in Surrey which prevented the Leyland National being deployed there. LHSs were classified by London Transport as BS; full length LHs were classiifed BL.

Fleet numbers Registrations Type Built
BL1–95 KJD 401–440P, OJD 41–95R LH B39F 1976
BS1–17 GHV 501–506N, OJD 7–17R LHS B26F 1976


United Automobile Services had five coaches with Plaxton Elite bodies, but the remaining 218 LHs ordered for this fleet were standard ECW bus bodies for services in north-east England. A number of second-hand buses were also acquired.

Fleet numbers Registrations Type Built
1081–1085 BHN 981–985H LH C41F 1970
1501–1514 THN 601–605F, UHN 796–798G, THN 607F, THN 609F, UHN 800G, YHN 811–814H LH B45F 1968
1515–1520 AHN 315–320H LH B45F 1969
1521–1554 PHN 512–554L LH B43F 1972
1555–1600 VHN 855–870M, WHN 571–600M LH B43F 1973
1601–1634 AHN 601–612M, GUP 897–918N LH B43F 1974
1635–1665 HUP 791–801N, LGR 646–655P, MGR 656–661P, NBR 662–665P LH B43F 1975
1666–1685 NGR 666–685P LH B43F 1976
1686–1700 XPT 686–689R, XUP 690–693R, CGR 894–900S LH B43F 1977
1701–1718 LPT 701–711T, MUP 712–714T, SUP 715–718V LH B43F 1979

Western National[edit]

Much of south west England is rural in nature and many narrow roads mean that Western National needed a large fleet of small buses. In 1969 the associated Southern National fleet was merged with Western National. The coach services of both companies were mostly operated under the Royal Blue brand. Neighbouring Devon General was also brought under Western National control in 1971, having just placed their first order for 6 LHs (88–93).

The orders for this large fleet of 209 buses and coaches were spread across ECW, Marshall, Plaxton and even Duple. Second hand vehicles brought the total number of LHs operated up to nearly 300.

Fleet numbers Registrations Type Built
88–93 VOD 88–93K LHS B33F (Marshall) 1971
94–96 LFJ 848–850W LHS B35F (ECW) 1980
100–103 PUO 100–103M LH B43F (ECW) 1974
104–107 GDV 461–464N LH B43F (ECW) 1974
108–115 KTT 38–45P LH B43F (ECW) 1975
116–121 STT 408–413R LH B43F (ECW) 1977
712–726 MUO 324–338F LH B41F (ECW) 1968
727–740 PTA 757–759G, POD 801–802H, PTA 660–662G, POD 803–808H LH B43F (ECW) 1969
750–763 POD 809–822H LH B43F (ECW) 1970
1250–1255 VOD 120–125K LHS B33F (Marshall) 1972
1300–1311 RDV 435–446H LH C41F (Duple) 1970
1312–1315 UTT 578–581J LH C41F (Plaxton) 1971
1316–1325 BDV 316L, NTT 317M, BDV 318L, NTT 319–325M LH C39F (Marshall) 1973
1326–1331 PUO 326–331M LH C41F (Plaxton) 1974
1561–1563 FDV 791–793V LHS B35F (ECW) 1979
1564–1574 SUO 429–432H, TTA 557–558H, TTA 737H,TUO 265–268J LH B43F (ECW) 1970
1575–1588 VOD 106–119K LH B43F (ECW) 1971
1601–1606 PTT 601–606M LH B43F (ECW) 1974
1607–1611 GDV 456–460N LH B43F (ECW) 1974
1612–1623 HTT 367–376N, KTT 37P, KTT 46P LH B43F (ECW) 1975
1624–1630 VDV 124–130S LH B43F (ECW) 1977
3100–3103 PTT 70–73R LH C41F (Plaxton) 1977
3114–3123 SFJ 114–123R LH C41F (Plaxton) 1977
3124–3134 VDV 131–133S, VOD 627–629S, AFJ691–698T LH C41F (Plaxton) 1978
3400–3413 PTT 100–107R, SFJ 108–113R LH C41F (Plaxton) 1977

Non-passenger use[edit]

Between 1972 and 1982 Lawrence Wilson and Son bought 3 LH and 10 LHL chassis which were fitted with panel van bodies. The first three LHLs were completed by Marsden and the remainder by Vanplan. They were used for delivering Wilson's Silver Cross brand of prams. One further LH (CUT 730K in 1972) was fitted out as a racing car transporter for Wheatcroft of Leicester.[3]

Road-rail bus[edit]

A former Hants and Dorset standard LH (NEL 847M of 1973) was fitted with additional flanged wheels in 1980 to allow it to operate on railway lines. It was owned by the North East London Polytechnic of Dagenham and some work was done by Lucas Aerospace. It was tested on the West Somerset Railway between Bishops Lydeard and Crowcombe Heathfield in August 1980.[4]

See also[edit]


  • Billington, Collin (2008). West Country Lightweight Single-Decks. Colaton Raleigh: West Country Historic Omnibus and Transport Trust. 
  • James, Allen; Sposito, Phil (n.d.). Bristol Goods Vehicles. Bristol: James and Sposito. 
  • Martin, Curtis (1984). Bristol Buses in Camera. Ian Allen. ISBN 0-7110-1361-6. 
  • Mills, G.R. (1984). The Bristol LH: A Pictorial Survey. Poole: Oxford Publishing Company. ISBN 0-86093-343-1. 
  • Townsin, Alan (2000). The Bristol Story. 2. Venture Publications. ISBN 1-898432-78-3. 


  1. ^ Furness, Nigel R.B. (2014). Buses and Coaches of Bristol and Eastern Coach Works. Crowood. ISBN 9781847976987. 
  2. ^ Mills (1984), Annex
  3. ^ James, Allen; Sposito, Phil. pp. 59–60, 78
  4. ^ Mills (1984), plates 17–18

External links[edit]