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1938-39 Bedford WTB - Duple Hendonian Coach Body
Forward Entrance

This model represents the forward entrance Duple "Hendonian" body on the Bedford WTB chassis, as built in 1938 and 1939, typical of many vehicles supplied to small operators throughout Britain.

The Bedford WTB

To trace the history of the development of the Bedford WTB, we have to go back to two very different sources, Vauxhall Motors of Luton in England, and General Motors Corporation of Detroit in the USA.

The Vauxhall Iron Works was established in South London in 1857 and produced a number of things, including small steam engines. Its emblem was a griffin - a clear link with the badge subsequently carried by Vauxhall cars and Bedford trucks and buses. Vauxhall Iron Works commenced building motor cars in 1903 and in 1905 it moved to new premises at Luton in Bedfordshire, the Company name being changed to Vauxhall Motors Ltd. in 1907. For the next eighteen years Vauxhall was a producer of high specification motor cars, although its fortunes were waning by 1925, in which year it was purchased by General Motors.

General Motors was a far more recent creation of 1908. Its mass-produced Chevrolet motor car was highly successful and the larger size of American motor cars lent itself to adaptation as a light van or truck. General Motors established a factory at Hendon in North London in 1923, at which these vans and trucks were assembled from components imported from its American and Canadian factories. The chassis was suitable for bodying as a light rural bus.

Assembly of Chevrolet trucks was moved from Hendon to the Vauxhall Motors factory in Luton in 1929 and full manufacture, rather than just assembly, commenced to Chevrolet design.

Vauxhall Motors developed the 30 cwt Chevrolet LQ truck into a 2-ton model in 1931, the short wheelbase WHG and the long wheelbase WLG. These were the first to carry the type name "Bedford". Many were bodied as buses, 14 seat on the WHG chassis and 20 seat on the WLG.

This truck chassis was further developed as the WT series 3-ton truck, which went into production in 1934, and the longer wheelbase WTL truck chassis was bodied in small numbers as a bus or coach, although with slightly cramped seating in its 26-seat configuration.

A longer (13' 11" wheelbase) version of the WT series was introduced in late 1935 as the WTB, specifically as a bus chassis, with a more refined suspension than the truck based models. Towards the end of 1938 a new style of "bull nosed" pressed metal radiator grille was introduced, manufactured by the Willenhall Motor and Radiator Co. of Coventry. The Bedford WTB remained in production until late 1939, when it was superseded by the longer wheelbase OB type, by which time about 2,320 WTB chassis had been built.

(Source material - Bedford Vol 1 by Stuart Broatch and Alan Townsin - Venture Publications, 1995)

Duple Bodies & Motors Ltd.

Duple Bodies & Motors Ltd. was founded by Herbert White in 1919, with the intention of constructing "duple" purpose motor cars, which could be rapidly converted from passenger car to goods van use. Initial premises were at Hornsey in North London, but in 1926 the company moved to larger premises at Hendon. In 1928 Duple entered the bus and coach bodybuilding business, which grew to become the company's main activity. Although there does not appear to have been a formal connection, Duple bodies were closely associated with the early bus chassis manufactured under the Bedford name by Vauxhall Motors at Luton.

When the WTB model was launched in late 1935, Duple offered the straight waisted "Luxury Coach" as its standard body, with 20 or 26 seat options, together with an optional 25-seat forward entrance model at the same price. The 1935 stepped waist "KD Special" and the 1937 curved waist "Vista" (both already modelled by LBC) represented the higher end of the market.

The design of the Luxury Coach evolved over its four years of production. The restyled Hendonian forward entrance body was introduced in 1938, which increased the seating capacity to 26, by placing a single seat ahead of the entrance doorway, which was placed slightly further back than on the original 1935 design. However it was also available as a 20-seater, for operators wishing to take advantage of the lower taxation bracket for buses with 20 or less seats.

 (Source - Duple - 70 Years of Coachbuilding - by Alan Townsin - Venture Publications, 1998


This model is based on the 1938 forward entrance version of the Hendonian coach body on the Bedford WTB and is typical of coaches supplied to small operators. The side windows are grouped in pairs into two openings. The kit can be modified to represent the "individual window" version using strips of 30 x 40 thou styrene and the side trim may need to be restyled to represent some versions. Glass louvres with a slight v shaped bottom should be added above the side windows of the saloon. These are also grouped in pairs with rounded outer corners.

Alternative seating configurations were:

20 Seater

26 seater

Back seat configured for four passengers

Back seat configured for five passengers

Four rows of two pairs, widely spaced (=16)

Five rows of two pairs, closely spaced (=20)


Single inward facing seat ahead of entrance doorway

The sliding roof is provided as a separate casting, which needs to be inserted in the hole on top of the roof. To represent the roof in opened form, the hole needs to be extended towards the back of the bus, along the lines of the rebates on the underneath, as far as the modeller wishes the roof to be open. The sliding roof can be trimmed and fitted flush with the roof as a "blank", to represent the fixed roof version. In this case the guide rails for the sliding roof and the "hump" in front of the roof aperture need to be removed.

A touch of detail, which modellers may wish to add, would be curtains, made from coloured paper, fitted behind the window glazing.

The following text describes a selection of known WTBs with Hendonian bodies, but there were many. many more and there is ample scope to model the bus with fictitious operators.

Case Study 1 - CVE 424 - 20 seat Hendonian - Weeden of Chrishall, Essex as later in service from 1945 as Premier Travel, Cambridge No 20




The kit model is based on photographs of Duple Hendonian bodied Bedford WTB, registration CVE 424, new in 1938 to Weeden of Chrishall, Essex, which business was purchased in September 1945 by Premier Travel of Cambridge. The bus was numbered initially as No 11 in the Premier Travel fleet, but later No 20, and was withdrawn in 1955.

Frederick Ernest Weeden had started his bus service in 1920 as "Heydon and District", moving his base to the nearby village of  Chrishall a few years later. His business was a typical village operation of the '30s, running services on alternate days to the nearby towns of Cambridge and Saffron Walden. However the WTB was bought for the Friday only express service to London and for summer excursions to Clacton.

Premier Travel livery was all-over medium blue, with the side and rear 'flashes', bonnet top, mudguards, head and side light bodies and wheels painted in a darker blue. The fleet name was painted on the sides and rear in gold seriffed capitals, shaded black. The fleet number was painted black on a gold circle on the front sides of the bus, just behind the bonnet.

The radiator shell, bumpers and head and side lamp rims should be silver (polished metal), as should the door handle, ventilators on the front body sides and surrounds to the destination screens, glass rain shields and the petrol filler recess. Silver beading was provided on the waist rail, either side of the side flashes, round the rear mudguard and along the bottom of the body sides.

To be correct the guard rail panel on the kit should be removed and replaced by a plain guard rail, which could be soldered up from brass strip.

A photograph of this bus in Premier Travel livery can be found on page 123 of "Super Prestige - Cambridge 1" by Paul Carter, published by Venture Publications. I also found another photograph of CVE 424, probably at Gloucester Green, Oxford, on a fotopic website, which is no longer available.


          "Premier Travel" -  Paul Carter - Capital Transport 1995.
Super Prestige No 7 - "Cambridge 1" - Paul Carter, Venture Publications 2004

Case Study 2 - CDG 246 - 20 seat Hendonian - Cheltenham District Traction Ltd - Fleet No 19



 CDG 246 was purchased by Cheltenham District Traction (at the time a Balfour Beatty Group subsidiary) in April 1938 as fleet number 19. It was used to operate a new Service 8 between Arle Road and the Centre of Cheltenham. However this service proved so popular that it soon required double-deck operation. When Red & White took over Cheltenham District in 1939, the bus was transferred to the Red & White fleet and was requisitioned by the military at the outbreak of war.

On this bus the side windows are mounted singly, with wide pillars between all of them, although the rain shields are still paired. The sliding door provided in the kit needs to be replaced by a flat two-leaf inward folding door, hinged at the front. The arrangement of the side flash is also different in that the bottom line of beading curves down to and round the top of the rear mudguard down to skirt level. This results in a wide area of cream, which runs right round the back of the bus, with a small triangle of crimson lake towards the back, corresponding to the rear side flash on the model and a further crimson lake panel round the rear number plate. The destination screen requires modification to provide a wide screen showing "ARLE ROAD" or "CENTRE" on the off side and a small square screen showing "8" on the near side.

CDT livery was all over crimson lake, with the bonnet top and side flash painted cream. The mudguards, wheel centres  and head and side lamp bodies were also crimson lake.

Silver trim is as per the Premier Travel version but silver beading is also applied above the side windows, between the bonnet sides and top and a line of beading along the guard rail panel.

Fleet name was CHELTENHAM - crest - DISTRICT in block gold letters, painted below the first two side windows between the door and the back mudguard.

Advertising boards were attached to the side of the roof above the three oblong side windows. These are signwritten and advertise FLOWER'S ALES, probably also in crimson lake lettering on a cream background..

A slip board was mounted on the near side at the bottom of the second side window. This appears to read ARLE ROAD AND CENTRE.


          "Cheltenham's Trams and Buses 1890 - 1963" - Appleby and Lloyd - The 21 Tram Group, Cheltenham, 1964

          "Cheltenham's Trams & Early Buses" - Colin Martin -Tempus Publishing 2001.

Case Study 3 - TL 7241 and TL 7854 -  26 seater Hendonians - The Delaine, Bourne, Lincolnshire, Fleet numbers 24 and 26.

The Delaine of Bourne probably needs no introduction. Two Bedford WTBs with Duple Hendonian bodies were operated. No 24 (TL 7241) was new in March 1938 and No 26 (TL 7854) in October 1938. However both were 26 seaters, which entails adding extra seats or using the chassis unit from kit WTB38M. Both were sold in 1952 for further service elsewhere..

Both had fixed roofs, which require the modification described earlier. No 24 had the original style of bonnet and radiator, and No 26 had the "Willenhall" style. Otherwise they can be built as per the kit.

Livery is believed to have been all over cream with mid blue side flashes, bonnet top, mudguards, guard rails and wheels.

Polished metal trim was as per the Cheltenham version, but on No 26 (TL 7854) the Willenhall radiator shell was painted cream with polished metal trim.

The fleet name was painted on the side ahead of the side flash in a darker blue, in the script style, which is still used today. On No 24 this was "The Delaine" but on No 26 the "the"was placed behind the "D" of "Delaine".


          Delaine Buses website

And I am sure that there are many, many more Hendonians, which could be modelled.

Master for model Tony Swift, Kirribilli, NSW, Australia, May 2013.




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