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AEC Regent bus at Rottingdean

The bus pictured here is an AEC Regent which is equipped with a 6.1Litre- six cylinder petrol engine. It had an open rear staircase and bodywork, with seating for 52,and was probably built in the company’s works at Peckham. The vehicle was one of a large fleet purchased between 1929/1932  by the London based Thomas Tilling company, who operated buses in the Brighton and Hove area from 1915 to 1935.

Route 4
The bus, with its GJ – – – – registration plate is captured lazily approaching the Rottingdean terminus on Route 4 circa early 1930s.  In that era, Rottingdean cross-roads was the easterly operating boundary for all Tillings Brighton Buses. The coastal road, east of Rottingdean to Newhaven and beyond, was most definitely the hallowed territory of  Southdown Motor Services.

Time for a ‘lay over’
After turning the bus round at the cross-roads, the crew and their vehicle would have a fifteen minute ‘lay over’(bus jargon). This was time enough for a well deserved cup of tea, before heading west on the lengthy return run to Southwick Green, via the centre of Brighton, Hove and Portslade.

AEC Regent bus at Rottingdean

Widening of the A259
All the cliff top properties bottom left of the photo were demolished when the A259 coast road was widened a few years later. The Under-cliff walk was  constructed around the same time. The terraced houses on the right look much the same today. Rottingdean village Fire Station was housed through the arch behind the houses at that time.

A new livery in 1935
From November 1935, the Thomas Tilling Brighton undertaking, was renamed Brighton Hove & District Omnibus Co Ltd and all the buses where given a distinctive new red, cream and black livery. The new company remained in Tilling ownership as a wholly owned subsidiary, surprisingly still managed from London.

75th anniversary
Many changes have occurred  to local public transport over the last 75 years some good and some not so good, all of which are well documented. However Brighton & Hove still has its smart Red and Cream workmanlike  buses.  Next year BHB&CC will be celebrating  its 75 year anniversary with a colourful parade of classic and modern buses on Madeira Drive. The date for your diaries is June 13th. 2010.

Comments about this page

  • Great photo, I pass this spot every day going to work and the RH side is still recognizable today. I didn’t know about the houses on the LH side. I’ve never seen this view before, well done, a great photo!

    By Peter Groves (06/11/2009)
  • My great delight was climbing the open staircase once the bus had started. Working against the acceleration meant one had to hold tight and pull hard to reach the top – a small boy’s thrill.

    By Kenneth (12/11/2009)
  • Nice old view, not seen that before either. My own thoughts on what bus this can be sets it as only either GJ2005 or GJ2006. Both were amongst the first six AEC Regents Tilling bought for Brighton to work the route 4 from July 1930, as Christopher Wrapson said, built in Peckham works. Three had modified bodies, GJ2005 in 1935/6, GJ2006 in 1935 this one also having a Gardner 5LW Diesel engine fitted around 1935/38 replacing its original petrol engine. The front upper window and panels of these were angled rather than rounded with a route number box sat forward of the body above the cab instead of a route and number box together. GJ2005 was unique in that when new was fitted with a temporary cab arrangement on the chassis and used as a training bus.

    By Gordon Dinnage - Picture Publisher (15/11/2009)
  • Virtually identical buses were built by Thos. Tilling for use in South London and inherited, by newly-formed London Transport, in 1933. Here’s the sole preserved example of this type in pre-war livery, not too removed from Tilling’s colours:

    By Chris Hebbron (13/02/2013)
  • Very interesting picture I’ve never seen before. It took a while to work out where it was because I thought route number 7 covered this service as I caught that bus from Roedean every day going to Rottingdean Junior School in the 1950s.

    By Julian Saul (18/07/2013)

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