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Homepage. This page: Various pictures of olde worlde char-a-bancs, some identified, others as yet unidentified. Page 1 of 2.

Photo 1. Leyland Charabanc in Bangor, North Wales.

The idea with these pages is to show old photos I have featuring charabancs (or char-a-bancs to be strictly correct), vehicles used extensively in the 1920s and 1930s for day trips to the coast and the like. Many homes were still without cars, so day trips and holidays would usually involve a rail journey to the chosen destination, with day trips being made on charabancs, operated by local operators in the area. Most photographs I've seen of chara's in action show them fully loaded, so their popularity was never in question. Protection from the weather was not their strongest feature, with a pull-over folding hood arrangement being offered to the lucky passengers, if the heavens decided to open suddenly.
There are now three pages in this section to look at, dedicated to images of old char-a-bancs. Page two can be found here, and page three here. Also of interest might be the following page, featuring old coaches.
The first photo shows a Leyland charabanc, with it's driver, or chauffeur, leaning jauntily against one of the Leyland's lamps. Are those plus-twos that he is wearing? or plus fours? I'm told that this is a Crosville Leyland GH5, with a Leyland 32 seat body.
Leyland Charabanc
The registration on the Leyland begins with the FM area code, a code used for vehicle registered at the Chester registration offices. This ties in nicely with a note on the back of the photo, which declares that it was taken at Bangor, North Wales. It is also dated, and looks like either 1926 or 1936, but the former is more likely I think. The charabanc is signwritten, but only over the scuttle and unfortunately cannot be read. Notice how the driver's cab has side screens fitted, yet the passengers have nothing.

2. Motor with Robinsons - operators of a Lancia char-a-banc.

Next, a cracking old photo postcard showing an unidentified, fully loaded, charabanc preparing to set off on its way. There are no details regarding the location, but some cracking detail nonetheless. The sign in the background says "Motor with Robinsons to all pleasure drives, from the Railway Station". The sign to the left is cut off, but suggests that the trips were known as the Royal Blue Motor Tours, and again this probably dates to the late 1920s.
Update #1. David H dropped me a line after I put these photographs online, with the following information for which I'm very grateful:
"I think that I can identify this photograph - it was taken in Scarborough - the charabanc belong to Robinsons Motor Ltd, who used the trading names Royal Blue, Scarborough & District (for his Bus Services) and White Coach tours. The vehicle shown is in the latter livery - it is a Lancia charabanc with 23 passenger seats, of which Robinsons had at least a dozen (he was also a Lancia dealer, and gave Plaxtons of Scarborough one of their first large orders for charabanc bodies - it is possible that the vehicle photographed is one of them)".
A Lancia Charabanc
The charabanc features a fairly typical style of coachwork, with the old railway carriage-style brass turn handles on the doors, and a folding wooden-framed hood stowed behind the rearmost passengers. Reflected in the front screen is part of a sign, which says "... Bay", indicating that this particular charabanc trip was probably at, or near to, the coast. Most of the passengers are wearing headgear, but with a maximum speed of just 12mph, they won't need to hang on to them! The tyre mounted on the spare wheel is a Michelin "Cable" crossply, with the numbers 895 - 13.5 on the sidewall.
A close look at the background to this photo, uncovers some interesting information. The building in the background has a number of signs on it. One refers to 'Yorkshire Towns' (another clue to the photograph's location perhaps?), the other seems to be advertising a garage, or service agent, for "Lancia - Straker Squire - Swift - AC" cars. The shop below however is a tobacconist & confectioner.
Update #2. Chris contacted me in 2011 with some further information on this char-a-banc operator, and the location of this photograph (thanks Chris):
"I have recently been investigating Robinson's "All-Weather Coaches" of Scarborough following the purchase of a 1920's tour guide of Scarbro' Castle which Robinsons advertised in, and can give you some additional information reference the photograph you have featured. The location is outside of the Bedford Hotel in the Crescent in Scarborough Town Centre, just round the corner from the Brunswick Shopping Centre and is still in existence today, and is known locally as Scholars Bar. I think that it was the starting point for a number of Robinsons specialist tours."
"The head office of Robinson's was actually based at the Railway Station and I have a copy of an original early photo which shows the sign on the left as promoting Robinsons "White Lounge" Tours. The photo of the railway station in 1920 in the tour guide shows the front of the station full of white charabancs."

3. Picnic stop at the side of a road.

Third photo in this collection, shows the passengers taking a break from their charabanc ride, enjoying a cup of tea and a picnic at the side of a country road. I don't know where this photo was taken, but I suspect not in the UK. In the background, tending to the food, is a young chap in uniform - perhaps he is the driver cum brew maker?? although if a driver, shouldn't he be wearing a cap?
Picnic stop

4. A fully loaded Crossley charabanc in the 1920s.

Les kindly sent this picture over, it shows what could well be an ex-military vehicle converted to passenger-carrying duties: "Rare view of a Crossley charabanc in the 1920s, its possible that this is a conversion from a ex-RAF tender - looking at that lot it could be the local pub outing!". A page of vintage Crossley charabanc photos can be viewed here.
Crossley charabanc

5. A smaller 1920s charabanc loaded with passengers.

The following two photos appear elsewhere on oldclassiccar, but warrant a mention here too. This view shows a smart chara, much smaller than those shown above, with a full load of passengers on board. Interestingly it has fairly lightweight looking spoked wheels to the front, with heavier solid iron rims (with knock-ons???) to the rear.
A 1920s charabanc parked at the roadside

6. A large vehicle, somewhere overseas.

Again this one remains a bit of a mystery, unless someone can shed light on the vehicle shown? These unidentified photos appear in the Mystery Cars photo section at oldclassiccar.
A very unusual looking chara

7. An interesting three axle charabanc.

Nel sent this latest photo over. It shows a three axle charabanc of impressive proportions, but does it ring a bell with anyone??
A large vintage char-a-banc

8. An unidentified char-a-banc in Paignton.

Phil & Lyn sent this next image over, in the hope that the fine - but un-liveried - char-a-banc in this family photo might be identified. The location was Paignton, in Devon, and the year 1925. Quite often photographs such as this focus on the cheery passengers sat in a char-a-banc, and the vehicle is secondary. As a result the key identifiers for the vehicle are out-of-shot, happily with this vehicle the front end is partially visible. Does anyone recognise the maker - I wonder if it could be a Napier?
(Please click the thumbnail to view full-size image.)
Devon coach ride
Another charabanc-specific item of interest on this site is an ancient illustrated invoice issued by a company that ran charabancs in the 1920s, from the Premier Garage in Marsden. A calendar, from Beacon Motor Coach Services in 1927, can be found here
Return to the old transport photos - Page 5, or visit this page to visit the second page of vintage charabancs.

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