Bournemouth 131 as it looks now, towards the completion of its restoration, in full livery with chrome radiator grille.

Forty years after it last turned a wheel under its own power, Bournemouth Corporation 131 (KEL 131), one of the town’s distinctive fully-fronted Leyland Titan PD2/3s, is being prepared to go back on the road later this year.

As part of the postwar renewal of the fleet, Bournemouth bought 30 of these Leylands in 1950/51 along with 24 BUT trolleybuses. All 54 had Weymann double-deck bodies configured to the dual staircase layout that it then favoured, with an open rear entrance platform and an enclosed front exit. The motorbuses’ full fronts matched the appearance of the trolleybuses.

The downside of this layout – with a plush coach-like interior – was the reduction in seating capacity, from 56 on a typical rear-platform double-decker to just 48, which resulted in passengers being left behind during the busy high summer seasons.

To address this, 131 was rebuilt in the corporation’s bodyshop in 1960. The interior was stripped out, the lined-out Alhambrinal ceilings were taken back to bare aluminium and the attractive Art Deco shaded lamps discarded. The front staircase also was discarded, and the rear one was replaced with a new, more compact unit from Weymann.

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