In real life, this example of the Duple Roadmaster has been lovingly restored by two brothers Kenny and Ryan Walsh who specialise in vehicle restorations. Not only that but Kenny’s ‘day job’ is Belle Vue Coaches Engineering Director in charge of the Manchester operator’s 60-strong fleet. The brothers found the coach, built on a Royal Leyland Tiger chassis from 1951, in a very sorry state, slowly rotting away having spent 20 years in a North Wales field. Paying the owner Arthur Collins a nominal £1 for the coach, they promised him that if they had not restored it within a year to roadworthy condition, they would let him have it back. In rescuing it from its proposed final resting place and despite its overall poor state of repair, with the aid of a boost pack, the engine started and the brothers were able to drive it to their low loader! From buying it in May 2011, the restoration and roadworthy certificates were completed with a month to spare and the coach, restored to almost original condition, was exhibited at the Llandudno Rally in May 2012.
Duple itself was a English bus bodybuilder from 1919 to 1989, founded in Hornsey, East London by Herbert White, who was a former car builder albeit briefly. The name Duple was his idea, intending to convey the principle of a single vehicle being suitable for a dual role. The 1950s, the period of our model, was a difficult time for the bodybuilding industry; the end of the increased postwar demand led to a decline in orders and competition between manufacturers increased. As a result, Duple moved out of London to Leicestershire and the company continued to produce new body designs, acquiring other companies along the way. The 1970s proved a dominant era for Duple but with the introduction of the Transport Act 1980 and the resulting coach deregulation service, competition increased once again, the company was taken over by Hestair, who in turn in the late 1980s sold off various sections to different elements within the industry, marking the end of the Duple Motor Services Ltd name after 70 years in the business.
With a wealth of history behind it, our model Duple Roadmaster is decorated in cream with red roof, red wheels and red body stripes, as a fleet member of Belle Vue Coaches, its destination panels reading Belle Vue and Manchester. The K & R Walsh Bros name and modern telephone number are printed in maroon on the back, whilst the company address and passenger capacity details are printed along the lower edge between the nearside front and rear wheels. The interior seating is also dark red. An interesting detail sees the Royal Leyland Tiger badge a little off centre on the front as in real life, the coach design included opening doors to reveal the spare wheel housing. An authentic model down to the last minute detail!
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