The unique Volvo Ailsa formerly known as RTO1R
The History of RTO1R/TRR814R
The unique low height Volvo Ailsa was delivered new to Derby Coproration Transport in the February of 1977, registered RTO1R and given fleetnumber 71 in the Derby fleet.
The bus was considerably lower in height than the numerous sister buses of the same type, due to the interesting layout and location of equipment such as the gearbox which protrudes in to the passenger accomodation-the design did not catch on and sadly RTO1R remained unique in the UK bus fleet.
The low height found itself re-registered in February 1989, losing it's original mark RTO1R in favour of TRR814R. The bus has carried TRR ever since.
Also, in the same year as the re-registration, TRR was made available for sale by Derby Corporation Transport, the lucky new owner of this quirky vehicle being Eagre of Morton.
1996 saw TRR heading to Glasgow, when Eagre sold the bus on to Doig's. This operator kept the Ailsa for a short while, but in the February of 1998, in a very positive development the bus was acquired for preservation (first time around) by Keith Billingsley and the 4738 group.
Keith and the group set out on a thorough restoration of the low height, culminating in the bus being sent to the depot of a certain famous Morley bus operator, Black Prince, with whom Keith had a very good relationship. The bodyshop at Fountain Street set to work on the bus, with a full overhaul, repanel and repaint on the agenda.
The bus emerged from overhaul in the February of 2004, resplendent in original Derby Corporation Transport livery. The team at Black Prince had done a fantastic job of refurbishing this tired bus.
A change in circumstances for the 4738 group saw the Ailsa change hands again in 2005, going to a preservationist in the Midlands, but TRR ended up running in service with operator, Midland Classic, Burton.
The Ailsa was sold on to WJC coaches, Scotland, where it was operated again in service (a testament to the work of Black Prince and the 4738 Group). Sadly, during its time at WJC, the unique bus fell into a state of disrepair, vandalised and down at heel.
Enter the room, Keith Billingsley and 4738 Group, who were so sad to see the Ailsa in such a terrible state, they made the decision to save it (2nd time around) in 2013!.
The bus was brought home and re-refurbished, with a new coat of paint applied in the January of 2016-what else could it be, but BLACK PRINCE!. As a tribute to the company and the hard work initially put in to the rebuild at Fountain Street, 814 gained its new coat and fleetnumber all in the style of Black Prince.
The current owner of TRR814R is Richard Huxham and the bus is now kept in the care of the 4738 Group, Midlands.