I AM CHRISTOPHER LEACH THE ARTIST. I started this blog so that I can share with everyone my vast collection of transport photographs showing a personal and nostalgic view of the industry with images that span some 45 years taking in the U.K and some of Europe. I have no darkroom and so rather than being the perfectionist after tidying them up I upload the images warts and all, and even those that won't scan squarely or are scratched. In a way it adds age and character. You are all free to download these for your personal use but please remember I still own them and you are not just free to use them without prior permission for any knd of publishing. Click on images to enlarge them and if you want to see more leave your comments or visit my website for the mother-site with galleries including those Buses & Girls: PICTUREWORLD

Saturday, 24 November 2007

Something very new at M&D Knightrider Street

Duple of Hendon was best known for bodying lightweights like the little Bedford OB but when it took over Burlingham of Blackpool in 1962 whose main business had been bodying heavyweight buses and coaches particularly for the BET Group it established Duple (Northern) to continue the coach business. A few years later in 1966 one of it's two main competitors closed down too, but now Thomas Harrington had gone Duple still had a huge job on it's hands matching up to Plaxton's modern and cheerful Panorama Range. The early Duple Commanders bore a strong resemblance to the lightweight Hendon products but in 1968 Duple really pushed the boat out with the flashy and bold Commander Mark.111 body. It certainly had that head turning wow-factor but I would have liked to have heard the comments of these older Maidstone and District drivers respectfully giving it 'the-once-over' and especially so as this was also that operator's first of many foreign Leyland Leopards too after years of working on homely AEC's Reliances with tastefully restrained Harrington Coachwork. This coach having arrived at Maidstone was so new it still had the company nameplate to be engraved. Unfortunately this was to mark a period of frantic design innovation at Duple and many customers left because new designs seemed to come onto the market almost every year rendering last years styling starting to already look obsolete and old-hat. Of course Duple did produce some winners too and I miss them because they had a certain gritty character, but Plaxton on the other hand slowly let the crisp looking Panorama gently evolve, and launched in 1962 it was still being produced in the same recognizable form till about 1980 when it was replaced by the a new Paramount Range.

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