The council-owned undertakings of both Grimsby and Cleethorpes were amalgamated on 1 January 1957 to form Grimsby Cleethorpes Transport (GCT), operated by the Grimsby & Cleethorpes Joint Transport Committee, comprising both Great Grimsby and Cleethorpes borough councils. The new ‘Transport Blue’ and ‘County Cream’ livery aimed to satisfy both constituents of the new venture, with the blue representing Cleethorpes Corporation (whose livery was dove grey and blue) and the cream offering a nod to the former Grimsby Corporation livery (crimson lake [maroon] and cream).
The GCT fleet had comprised large numbers of AEC Regent and Reliance chassis, though from 1965 the company chose to standardise on the Daimler Fleetline chassis for its double-deck requirements (and purchased four of a limited production run of single-deck Fleetlines). An order was placed for a batch of Fleetlines during 1976 and GCT 113 (MBE 613R), forming part of a batch comprising 111-116 (MBE 611-616R), was duly delivered just before Christmas of the same year.
Unlike all previous deliveries of the Fleetline double-decker, GCT 113 and its batch were produced by Leyland, rather than Daimler, but still bodied in Leeds by Roe. The half-dozen new Fleetlines had Roe’s Park Royal H45/29D bodies atop Leyland’s FE30AGR chassis. Previous Fleetline deliveries had Daimler’s CRG6LX chassis.
GCT 113 and her batch were identical in appearance to previous examples except that they didn’t have heated windscreens and there were no opening windows at the front on the top deck; they also featured air handbrakes, the first new Fleetlines for GCT to do so. Chassis numbers (in order) were 7605642, 7605666, 7605667, 7605689, 7605689, 7605754 and they were delivered on 7/12/76 (111), 8/12 (112), 9/12 (115), 14/12 (113), 15/12 (116), 16/12 (114).
112 and 114 were the first to enter service on 5 January 1977, but then the whole batch was withdrawn with a query concerning their automatic emergency handbrake, which, upon a loss of air, would lead to the automatic application of the handbrake irrespective of whether the bus was stationary or not. Following a resolution, the fleet finally entered service on 13 January 1977, with 115 the day after (it suffered a leaking fuel tank).
The introduction of GCT 113 and her batch forced the withdrawal of a number of AEC Regent Vs with Roe H39/31F bodies, namely 60-62 (VJV 502/3 & XEE 501), along with AEC Reliance/Willowbrook B42D, 34 (KJV 999). All four were withdrawn on 12 February 1977 and passed to Jones (dealer), Barnsley. At the time of their sale, their fate was unknown, though all left the GCT fleet in operational condition.
GCT 113's first MOT was successfully attained by week ending 14 January 1978 and the first mechanical problem reported wasn’t until October 1979, when GCT 113 received new springs. GCT 113 received her first repaint during 1980, being noted in the paintshop during week endings 30 August, 6 & 13 September; she received a second application of blue and cream.
The blue used in the GCT livery had become progressively darker and the company said it had a tendency to fade too fast for their liking, so a light caramel and cream livery was adopted from 1981, first applied to an ex-London Transport Daimler Fleetline (20 (TGX 792M)).
The introduction of the non-political caramel and cream livery (scientifically proven to show up dirt the least!) also heralded a new GCT fleetname. Hitherto, ‘Grimsby Cleethorpes Transport’ was prominently displayed on its vehicles, with the crests of both Grimsby and Cleethorpes either side and this dated practice was to be replaced with a styled fleetname, albeit simply initials of the company with a black arrow running through the letters; the crests were retained.
Up to now, GCT 113 had been crewed in the traditional two-person manner, comprising a driver and a conductor, or ‘clippie’. This arrangement would change during 1982 with the introduction of the Almex exact fare ticketing system. GCT 113 had her hopper fitted on 5 June in readiness for full OMO (one man operation) on 4 July.
GCT 113 was one of the last 7 buses in the fleet to retain the blue livery and following her first known withdrawal from service for a major body overhaul during September 1984, she finally received the new caramel and cream livery the following month. The application of the new livery also saw the Grimsby and Cleethorpes town crests positioned on the front of the bus, below the front windscreen, either side of the demister inlet.
From 22 July 1985 a new £50k+ promotional campaign was launched. The brainchild of DEM Associates, who was responsible for the stylised fleetname, the caramel and cream livery was complimented by the addition of an orange and black stripe, lined out in white, applied below the lower saloon windows on both sides of the bus, raising at 45 degrees towards the rear. The towns' crests were moved to just above the destination box and round to the sides was a large orange and brown parrot called Clippy with the words “GCT – what a clever way to travel”.
The stylised fleetname was refreshed to the version ultimately used until the Stagecoach purchase in 1993, with the top half of the chunky letters 'GCT' in orange and the bottom half in black. This was now positioned below the lower saloon windows. A new-style number blind was introduced at the same time, offering longer, slimmer digits. GCT 113 received her new vinyls and parrot by the end of November 1985 – later than planned as DEM Associates went into liquidation mid-roll out!
The exact fare system was slowly phased out and GCT 113 was one of the last vehicles to have its Almex machine and hopper replaced with the Wayfarer 2 ticket machine, with fitment complete by the end of June 1985. During the period of almost three years in which the exact fare system was employed, GCT 113 was seldom allocated to services that were shared with other operators, principally Lincolnshire Road Car services 45 (Immingham) and 16 (Wybers Wood), owing to these services being operated by buses fitted with TIM machines and continuing to offer change.
Deregulation saw GCT tentatively trial rural bus operation to Barton-upon-Humber and Louth (the latter commencing from 20 July 1987), in direct competition with Lincolnshire Road Car (by now now, ‘RoadCar’).
To coincide with deregulation, during 1987 a new orange and white livery was introduced, applied to Renault/Dodge minibuses from new (March) but first applied as a repaint to the existing fleet from April 1987. This would see orange replacing the caramel and white replacing the cream in the same proportions, with an orange and black vinyl running beneath the lower saloon windows ending by the front wheel arches in a softened arrow. The large GCT logo would go from below the lower saloon windows and be recreated sat on an orange background above the driver’s window and the entrance door. GCT 113 received its fresh orange and white livery in January 1989.
Two-way radios were introduced from April 1987 and GCT 113 was so treated.
During her time in normal passenger service, GCT 113 only ever wore one rear-end advertisement – something of an achievement since much of the GCT double-decker fleet was regularly festooned in promotional liveries of some description. During 1987, GCT 113 received her rear-end advert for The Plant Shop, with it retained during the acquisition of orange and white livery and even had a renewal of this rear-end advert during May 1989. It would be lost, in favour of the standard orange and white rear end, during August 1990.
During May 1990, GCT 113’s classmate, Daimler Fleetline/Roe 103 (BJV 103L), was sold to Pleasurewood Hills (who was constructing the new Pleasure Island theme park on the site of the former zoo near the North Sea Lane terminus in Cleethorpes) and was converted into an open-topper, with the removal of almost all the upper deck roof, sides and windows, save the front windows and was given an all-over advertisement livery promoting the company and their up and coming venture. The bus would continue to be operated on the GCT licence and driven and maintained by GCT staff. (It would also go on to have its original Pleasurewood Hills livery modified the following year, with the removal of ‘Pleasurewood Hills’ and during September 1993 an all-over replacement advert for Pleasure Island theme park itself, very similar to that worn by RoadCar Bristol VR 1971 (HWJ 924W), was applied.)
By March 1993 the writing was on the wall for GCT; Cleethorpes Borough Council wanted to withdraw its support for the company, forcing the sale of the bus and Peter Sheffield Coaches (acquired in 1987) fleets. And so on 19 November 1993, GCT 113 and the fleets of Grimsby-Cleethorpes Transport and Peter Sheffield Coaches, became the thirteenth subsidiary of Perth-based Stagecoach Holdings.
One of the first decisions Stagecoach made was to de-roof GCT 113 – she would now become 103’s buddy along Cleethorpes seafront, working Service 17. Conversion, identical to that undertaken on 103, was completed during February 2004 and GCT 113 was given an overall white livery by May 2004, and was delayed receiving Stagecoach stripes in anticipation of a third party paying for an overall advert. This didn't happen, and so GCT 113 was outshopped in Stagecoach stripes – one of the first double-deckers to be so treated at Grimsby by the end of May. GCT 113 first entered service in her open-top guise on 26 July 1994.
Stagecoach’s Fleetline replacement programme got into full swing during 1995, though the short-term futures of GCT 113 and sister open-topper 103 were secured. To celebrate this vehicle type and its significance to the GCT fleet since July 1965, a special Fleetline Farewell running day was held on Sunday 25 June 1995, coincidentally one month shy of the 30th anniversary of the vehicle type within the fleet.
All closed-top Fleetlines were progressively withdrawn from the fleet under Stagecoach tenure from 1994. Many of the first examples weren't replaced and were able to be withdrawn through the reduction in frequency of Services 3F/4/4X from every 10 minutes to every 15. Realising they'd closed the stable door after the horse had bolted and that this cut was too drastic, Stagecoach hurriedly increased the frequency to a bus every 12 minutes.
The withdrawn Fleetlines that weren't immediately sold to a local operator were initially sent to the sister Chesterfield depot for disposal, with the last examples leaving the fleet on 30 November 1995. The final tranche was replaced by Stagecoach-standard Volvo Olympians with Alexander RL bodies. Though one Fleetline made it back – 70 (WFU 470V) returned to Grimsby as its replacement was an ECW-bodied Leyland Olympian (303 (NHL 303X)) and this wasn’t yet ready for transfer, so Fleetline operation in Grimsby and Cleethorpes entered its 31st year, albeit by just under a fortnight, with 70 being withdrawn on 12 January 1996.
From 12 January 1996, GCT 113 and her elder sister 103 were now the only Fleetlines in operation.
GCT 113 managed to escape a ‘fleet number tidying up’ by Stagecoach, which took place during March 1996; however sister 103 did not fair as well and would now be known as 114.
From April 1997 for a period of 2 years, GCT 113 wore her first ever, all-over livery in dark-blue, advertising Pleasure Island. Integral to this was a green rear-end advert for McCormack's Bar, located at the front of Pleasure Island. Sister 114 was given the livery at the same time and wore it until 2001. Stagecoach stripes were again applied to GCT 113 from April 1999.
One advantage of having a pair of open-toppers surplus to requirements during the winter is that they could be loaned to other Stagecoach subsidiaries for the use of ‘tree lopping’. While this practice was often revered by mechanics, owing to the condition of the upper saloons upon the vehicles’ return, it did see GCT 113 visit other depots from time to time. United Counties was the usual recipient, with GCT 113 or 114 visiting during the spring; two known loans of GCT 113 were in March 1996 and May 2000, the latter occasion was to Rugby depot.
During July 1999 the Wayfarer 2 ticket machines were replaced with ERG's AES Prodata models and GCT 113 was so affected.
Yet another reapplication of Stagecoach stripes livery was applied to GCT 113 in January 2001 (her third in 5 years) and sister 114 received the same treatment, losing its dark blue all-over advertising livery for Pleasure Island. By the end of 2001, while delicensed from service, GCT 113 received a new-style fluorescent yellow-on-black destination blind, in keeping with Stagecoach policy. Gone was the traditional ‘Seafront & Holiday Camps’ and in came ‘Thorpe Park’ and for the return journey ‘Cleethorpes Pier’.
Both GCT 113 and her sister 114 were also fortunate to parade victorious sports teams around their home town from time to time; GCT 113 was used to parade Grimsby Town FC around Grimsby and Cleethorpes during July 1998, following their promotion to Division 1; to chauffeur Boston Town FC around their town to celebrate their promotion to the football league Division 3 in May 2002; and during the same month was used to carry Lincoln City’s Women’s Football Club around the City to celebrate their promotion to the First Division.
By contrast to the positivity garnered from such events, just three months later, during August 2002, the modern-day suitability of GCT 113 and her sister 114 were called into question following the assault of one of their drivers. The open-top Fleetlines were now the only buses in the fleet not to have assault screens fitted and the T&GW union instructed its members to subsequently refuse to drive them and as a consequence they were unceremoniously withdrawn from service during the height of the 2002 summer season.
This was amid the first known commercial competition along the seafront route of Service 17 as Coopers of Killamarsh, initially resurrecting the Applebys name, was now operating a competing service between Cleethorpes Pier and Pleasure Island, using a Daimler Fleetline/East Lancs open-top double decker (KMW 176P). (Following a complaint from the Bowen Group, to whom the original Applebys name had been sold following the demise of the original company, the open-topper would be re-named Coopers in subsequent years.)
During the early hours of Sunday 6 October 2002, a devastating fire broke out at the depot in Grimsby - the result of arson - which destroyed eleven vehicles and caused damage to a further 5. Fortunately, the locality of GCT 113 during her delicensed spell was a fair distance from where the fire was raging.
Sadly, GCT 113’s ability to dodge re-numbering now she was part of a much larger company ended on 5 January 2003, when she became 15513 under the Stagecoach-wide re-numbering system. While it could be argued that ‘113’ was never an exact match for the digits in her number plate from new (‘613’), the 5-digit number allocated certainly seemed less municipal and further detracted from her history.
GCT 113 passed her next MOT on 27 March 2003 and – now fitted with a bespoke cab door/assault screen – would be the only open-topper to operate this summer, since sister 114 (now 15514) wasn’t touched.
During April 2003, GCT 113 first received her new-look Stagecoach swoops corporate livery, incorporating the new ‘beach ball’ logo. Around the same time, GCT 113’s elder seafront buddy, 114, was sold to the modern incarnation of Glasgow Corporation Transport, for whom it operated the Glasgow City Tour, ironically seeing the bus pass back into ‘GCT’ ownership. The bus was exported to Italy in 2010, still wearing Stagecoach stripes, which does bring into question just how much operational service the bus saw in Glasgow and while with its next owner, Chepstow Classic Coaches.
2004 would be the final full summer operation in passenger service for GCT 113.
On 15 July 2005 GCT 113 was taken to Chesterfield depot amid rumours that she had been sold to a theme park for use within its grounds, though in reality she would remain at Chesterfield depot (passing into Stagecoach Yorkshire ownership following Stagecoach reorganisation during 2007), acting as their promotional vehicle. This drew to a close exactly 40 years of there being a Fleetline double-decker continually based at Grimsby.
Please click here to go to the Life at Chesterfield page within this website, which details as full a picture of the places GCT 113 visited while there as possible.
GCT 113 did pay a return visit ‘home’ during the summer of 2014. This was the pre-cursor to the roll-out of the Cleethorpes Seasiders, the natural extension of the award-winning Skegness Seasiders that Stagecoach had introduced further down the coast. It is understood Stagecoach wanted to evaluate the business case for once again operating two open-toppers along Cleethorpes seafront. GCT 113 operated alongside her replacement until the end of September 2014 and she returned to Chesterfield during October.
In total, Chesterfield depot would be the home of GCT 113 for the next 12 years, before being acquired for preservation on 24 August 2017 and restored into one of its previous GCT guises.
GCT 113 entered her first rally on 20 May 2018 while wearing GCT's orange and white livery. She operated a trio of journeys on Service 341 between Whittlsey Market Place and Ramsey as part of the annual Fenland BusFest running day. Since being acquired for preservation nine months earlier, the most noticeable changes - other than the repaint - include the removal of the assault screen, the introduction of front fog lights and her steering wheel being sanded down to reveal the original cream beneath.