F London Country Bus Services Preservation Pages
AEC Swift BPH 106H
Friends and Family
AEC Swift

This page was first produced as an attempt to redress a serious lack of up-to-date information regarding extant Swift-family vehicles, but with the rise of instant publication in 'social' media this not really true any longer. Think of it instead as an easily-accessible I-SPY list of buses of particular interest. In this task I must acknowledge particularly the assistance of Keith Wright and Mick Overton, who are well-informed and have surprised me a number of times with their revelations. As this project has unfurled, vehicles have been sold to new, enthusiastic owners who are keen to share their experiences.

It is now extended to try and bring to the fore examples of the Maltese heritage that are now finding new homes, or live on in retirement with their erstwhile operators. Please note that only unmodified vehicles on Malta are included here.

FRIENDS (Swifts)

SM 1

Single-door, fully-seated, Marshall-bodied SM1 (yes, the very first) is owned by Blue Triangle, along with SMD88 and SMA8 (both stored). She is currently in their workshop, receiving attention and hoped to be back on the road later in 2007.
Photo: © A. Lennox-Kay 2007
AEC SWIFT AML 1H © A. Lennox-Kay
SM 1 in Service

After a long and thorough restoration, this special machine is back in service with a Class 6 ticket. First unveiled to the public at the grand Transport For London cavalcade and exhibition in June 2014, we see her here on duty as shuttle bus for the Epping Ongar Railway between Epping and North Weald. But a 339 should be a green bus, historically speaking.......
Photo: © K. Valla 2014
AEC SWIFT AML 1H Epping © K Valla

AEC Swift AML 30H © J.Wilkins SM 30

Single-door, fully-seated SM30 is from the first Marshall-bodied batch of buses which entered service in April 1970. SM 30 is owned by Emsworth & District and has not been seen about for some while, although some work has taken place recently, and it is intended to return her to service (4/07).

Emsworth also own SM32, which has suffered conversion to a caravan, but I was not able to obtain a picture of that.
Photo: © J. Wilkins 2007

AEC Swift AML 35H © M.Overton SM 35

Another unmodified vehicle from the Ministry, SM35, Malta plate GVH 130 was donated to the Malta Historic Vehicles Trust and taken away on tow in November 2012 for restoration. The MHVT collection thus contains both a Marshall and an MCW bodied vehicle, which is an excellent outcome, since these are rarer in the UK.
Update: SM35 fell upon hard times when the storage space was lost, but has now been sold and returned to the UK for restoration. Photo: © Mick Overton 2012

SM 88

I am indebted to Mick Overton for this photo of another astonishing survivor, which Mick owned with two others in years past. From London SMD88 was sold in August 1977 to A1 Service in west Scotland, legendary operators of many ex-London buses. Here you can see the pleasing livery and substantial bumper that was added by this conservative owner. I am sure that the new towing eye was never necessary. This vehicle is currently stored in driveable condition and owned by Blue Triangle.
Photo: © Mick Overton 2007
AEC Swift AML 88H © M.Overton
SMD 88 in the works

It was good news when 88 came in from the cold, into the keeping of Keith Valla, who wasted no time getting her into the works. Forgive me if I am wrong, but this has to be the first application of green to a red Swift! Red Merlins worked on hire in the country area, but were never re-painted. SM88, as she is now known (as a fully-seated, dual-door saloon) is undergoing an extensive interior refit after mechanical attention. We look forward to meeting her in service.
Photo: © Keith Valla 2020
AEC Swift AML 88H © K.Valla
And now....SM 88

In her new guise, which is modelled upon a lighter green and Canary Yellow (as applied to AN and AF classes) livery applied to ex-Stevenage Superbus SM458 when replaced on the road by Leyland Nationals LN1-2 during September 1972. SM458 was then sent to Harlow garage for the 812 service. It is presumed that SM459 received the same, but there is as yet no published record of that. The bus is seen here in the celebrated (and soon-to-be-closed) confines of Stevenage Bus Station in April 2021, a spritual if not actual home.
Photo: © Keith Valla 2021
AEC Swift AML 88H © K.Valla

AEC Swift AML 91H © K.Wright SMD 91

From the first batch of Park Royal, dual-doored vehicles SMS91 was converted to SMD specification in 1976 and soldiered on in the fleet until the end of 1978. Conversion to a mobile classroom followed and she became known as the video bus as she was equipped with projection equipment and several panelled-over windows. Owned previously by the enthusiastic Hugh Harland as a mobile museum, she is now in the collection of the Walthamstow Pump House Museum. Curiously, she seems to have been fitted with a DMS-type front dash panel!
Photo: © Keith Wright 2005

SMD 97

And now a scoop! The first picture published of long-hidden SMD97. Another survivor from that first batch of Park Royal vehicles, this one went on to Transport Ferry Services, Felixtowe early in 1978 working mostly around the Dover Docks with other Swift and Merlin survivors. Ending up with the famous fleet of the redoubtable Basil Williams, she was ultimately purchased and stored by Paul Brophy as an act of faith. Now based in Sussex with Steve Parr and the Country bus and Coach Group, it had been hoped that this one would be back on the road in the Spring of 2008, 30 years after disposal by London Transport. In the event, the queue was jumped by DMS 1868. However, in 2010 she was made fit and awarded an MOT certificate, and is now at the Reliance Works being sorted.
Photo: © C. Green 2007
AEC Swift AML 97H © C.Green
SMS 97 the Professional

SMS97 is now in fine fettle, and earning a living as part of a speciality hire fleet. By coincidence the PRV record photograph of a London Swift was taken of this bus before delivery. What an honour!
Photo: © S. Parr 2017
AEC Swift AML 97H © S.Parr

AEC Swift BPH 114H © J.Wilkins SM114

The only other country Swift in existence (go on, prove me wrong please) is 114, which was part of the Hants and Sussex fleet of Basil Williams. Purchased by an artist for conversion to a mobile studio, which never happened, she was rescued by Paul Brophy and stored for a number of years before moving to Country Bus Rallies for restoration. Note the single-door conversion in this (rather poor) photo.
Photo: © Jonathan Wilkins 2004
Click here for more on Hants & Sussex.
AEC Swift BPH 114H © A.Charman SM114 Unveiled

The team at Country Bus Rallies have just unveiled their vehicle, at a running event hosted on Crawley. A very apt location for a bus that made her first working journey from CY on a 426 to Ifield. It is openly admitted that there is a lot more work to do - including making the exit doors operable. I also like the way that the SM is disguised cleverly as an MB with its single fog-lamp! Good luck to them, and isn't the green paint a joy to behold?
Photo: © Alan Charman 2010

SMS 369

From the second batch of Park Royal, dual-doored vehicles this vehicle was the first Swift to come out of restoration at the end of the 1990's. Restored by Kevin McGowan, she has since been donated to the Cobham Bus Museum where she is a regular performer. The interior boasts a full set of coin-acceptor and turnstile. Thanks are due to Kevin and the Museum for inspiration, assistance and advice on restoring my own machine.
Photo: © Jonathan Wilkins 2005
AEC Swift EGN 369J © J.Wilkins

AEC Swift EGN 678J © D.Turpin SMS 678

A great stir was caused when this vehicle surfaced after 20 years in hiding. After conversion in 1978 by Ted Brakell to a mobile display centre for a company called Predco based in Newbury it was purchased for further private use in 1983. It moved peoples' homes, including one run from Manchester to London and saw leisure use on the East Coast, collected broken down motorcycles and shifted pallets of bricks from Wickes, giving no trouble until 1987. After a mishap with the engine, a vandal attack took over two years to repair, and eventually the whole job was forgotten. Recently, things began to stir again, and now a lot of work has been done and the display equipment stripped out. We look forward to seeing Dick around with his rare, MCW-bodied machine.
Photo: © D Turpin 2010

SMS 736

This worthy vehicle, Maltese registration M-1511, has just been acquired by the Malta Historic Vehicles Trust. Last in service in Malta in April 1981, she was stored in serviceable condition as a strategic reserve bus,and was last road tested in 1988.By January 1989 she had been robbed for spares to keep a sister in the Ministry fleet running and didn't move again from that spot where she was parked after that final road test until 20th November 2011. Here she has been dragged from the shed at Pembroke ready for the journey to a new home and renovation. The vehicle has been donated by the Ministry of Education, and spares to proceed with the restoration to running condition were included.
Photo: © Mick Overton 2012
AEC Swift JGF 736K © M.Overton

AEC Swift JGF 753K © K.Wright SMS753

Paul Brophy purchased this nice example of the last London production run, one of just two known MCW-bodied vehicles, from the closing-down sale of Hants and Sussex. Note the wide spacing of the headlights which was a variation introduced for the last hundred bodies. 753 was the vehicle chosen for conversion to a mobile shop and publicity office in November 1978. Its blue and red livery is starting to show through again in this view of the bus stored in Mike Nash's yard in 2005. Although largely unrestored, Paul had sourced and fitted a full set of seats, now sadly lost once more (see below).
Photo: © Keith Wright 2005
AEC Swift JGF 753K © M.Nash SMS753 Make-over

I simply have to share this one with you.........SMS753 in the guise of a hippy bus. The rainbow wheel-arch motif makes it for me. Mike Nash, ever-resourceful, succeeded in finding a role as a film-star for this survivor. ITV were filming a drama for television and needed a period bus. Spot-on I'd say! A mini-series of "He Kills Coppers", from the novel by Jake Arnott, went on the air in the Spring of 2008. Sadly, in the final part 753 was the focus of a destructive orgy by the police, with a lot of (cosmetic) breaking glass. Unfortunately the interior fittings which were removed and stored during the conversion to living quarters were subsequently lost by the production company. Now under restoration at London Bus and Truck, Northfleet for her new owner.
Photo: © Mike Nash 2007


Looking very grubby after 20 years in a dirty, pigeon-infested barn, but in surprisingly good shape is this distinctive Alexander bodied Swift. These differed from the 'standard' specification as they were 11m long with the AH505 engine, and spent their life on Green Line route 725 and associated local bus routes. SMA1 was the last AEC Swift in LCBS service, which is a little remarkable since their popularity was low and they were accused of being under-powered (not uniquely). SMA8 was one of just three SMA vehicles which saw service in the 1980s, all at East Grinstead. I have to confess that I don't know as much as I would like about the later history of this one, but its rise from relic to superstar was almost meteoric when the might of the London Bus Company was brought to bear. Here are before and after images taken just three months apart! Photo: © Keith Valla 2018
AEC Swift JPF 108K © K.valla
The most recent shows SMA8 in service on a tube-replacement service working for TfL and looking very well indeed. Photo: © Keith Valla 2018 AEC Swift JPF 108K © K.valla

AEC Swift JPF 113K © K.Wright SMA13

Looking very much the worse for wear, but far from a basket-case is this distinctive Alexander bodied Swift.This example spent several years as transport for Bullers Wood School in Kent, where it was restored to original livery. This vehicle was under restoration in the North East, and looking good with extensive re-panelling, but has now gone under cover.
Photo: © Keith Wright 2005

FAMILY (Merlins)
MB 90

This is a unique survivor in at least two ways. She is the ONLY surviving vehicle with the low driving position that was the original standard. All other survivors are type 4P2R with the raised cab floor. She is also the ONLY green example. It is a tribute to the determination of Chris Sullivan who purchased her at the point of scrapping that she has survived, and only with considerable effort was she recovered from a location dining facility to a recognisable bus with reinstated centre doors. Chris might be biased in one way or another as an ex-SA driver who would be familiar with these buses. MB 90 was on loan to Ensign in their historic collection, and was been involved in minor spares swapping with my own SM106. Now, however she has been purchased by Peter Comfort, who has done a fine job in putting her back on the road.
Photo: © Keith Wright 2005
A link to MB90's own web site.
AEC Merlin VLW 90G © K.Wright

AEC Merlin VLW 444G © K.Wright MBA 444

The longevity of many Merlins is essentially down to the robust AH691 engine and the fact that the RED ARROW service was a duty that they settled down to (perhaps it was also less hard work). The other point is that they were the last operational vehicles of the type (outlasting later Swifts) and were being overhauled until 1980. As with others, MBA 444 was a conversion from MBS. Upon disposal, she was purchased by Bedfordshire Education Department for use as a mobile technology unit. Partly restored in Hertfordshire by Keith Wright, but has changed hands recently and is currently in the North West pending further work.
Photo: © Keith Wright 2007

MBA 539

This one is in very reasonable condition after long dry-storage. MBA 539 subsequently vanished into covered storage and restoration is intended, but no news leaked out for a long time. A mere twelve years after this picture was captured MBA539 presents a very different picture.
Photo: © Keith Wright 2005
AEC Merlin VLW 539G © K.Wright
AEC Merlin VLW 539G re-born© K.Valla MBA 539

It's amazing what a spell at Roger's LBC facility can do for a vehicle.........I was down at Northfleet as preparations for her MOT were getting into high gear after fettling and a trip through the paint shop. She looked good then, but is superlative now, and fighting her corner at Victoria. MBA582 from the London Transport Museum was also in service (and Greenway GLS450) and what a day that must have been!
Photo: © Keith Valla 2017

AEC Merlin AML 581H © K.Wright MBA 581

It came as a shock to discover that such vehicles were still about......This appalling conversion to dining facility was once a RED ARROW, and was probably best described as a good source of spares. However, I am sorry to relate that this vehicle has now been scrapped under very difficult circumstances, instead of being dismantled for spares.
Photo: © Keith Wright 2005

MBA 582

The London Transport Museum realised belatedly that they did not own one of their most infamous machines, so earmarked this one after disposal by LT. I am indebted to Mick Overton for the story that a number of vehicles awaiting sale from London Bus Sales and stored at AEC's disused Southall works became donors of parts before the bus was completely repanelled and repainted to a very high standard. It is thus in almost mint condition, and only occasionally seen outside of Acton Depot.
Photo: © London Transport Museum
AEC Merlin AML 582H © LT Museum

AEC Merlin AML 588H © Tim Clayton MBS 588

This example lives at the BAMMOT Museum site, Wythall and is under restoration by Tim Clayton. Tim has been instrumental in obtaining some interior trim parts for my own SM106, for which I am very grateful.
Photo: © Tim Clayton 2006

MBA 641

Another unique machine, this is a fully-seated, single-door example of the last batch of Merlins. These were used to implement conventional one-man conversion of routes in the central area. Another quirk of this batch was the use of the blue 'Celestra' moquette and grey trim that was standard for the subsequent Swift deliveries. This vehicle was owned and restored by Bryan Nash, and is now cared for by Keith Wright in North Hertfordshire. The picture attached shows the vehicle on its home patch at Potters Bar garage open day (July 2011), with Bryan at the wheel.
Photo: © Keith Valla 2011
AEC Merlin AML 641H © Keith Valla

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