THE RISE OF DENNIS

STEPHEN MORRIS, Buses editor from 1980 to 1999, recalls how the chassis-making arm of today’s Alexander Dennis transformed itself in the 1980s into a volume manufacturer of innovative vehicles engineered for a fast-changing market

XX 9591, a 1925 Dennis 4T with 48-seat Dodson body, taking part in the Worshipful Company of Carmen’s cart marking ceremony in London last July. It carries London Public Omnibus Company livery, representing the time of pirate operators in the city. Public was financed by London General Omnibus Company and was eventually absorbed into that fleet.
TERRY BLACKMAN

The announcement in August 2020 that Alexander Dennis was to close its Guildford chassis factory was not a huge surprise. Given all that was happening in the wider world, its Canadian parent company, NFI Group, was hardly likely to be swayed by the fact that for decades bus manufacture had been the mainstay of the largest town in Surrey, one of England’s richest counties.

To 21st century thinking, Surrey is not a place you would think ideal for bus manufacture. They are built in Sherburnin-Elmet, Falkirk, Scarborough and Ballymena, not Guildford. Yet the Home Counties once was home to a great deal of motor manufacture.

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