Leyland Atlantean AN68/2R
Northern Counties H48/31D body
Leyland O.680 11.1l 154bhp diesel engine
Leyland 4 speed semi-automatic
gearbox (air control)
Delivered June 1972
Wigan Corporation No 9
GMT No 3338
Withdrawn from GMT 25th October 1985
NEK 9K was the ninth of ten AN68s delivered to Wigan Corporation Transport in 1972. The first of the batch, NEK 1K held the distinction of being the very first AN68. Wigan numbered these new vehicles 1 to 10, a departure from the previous practice where a new bus would inherit the fleet number of the vehicle it replaced.
GMT took over Wigan Corporation Transport on April 1st 1974 but it wasn’t until 1976 that all ten AN68s wore the orange and white GMT livery, NEK 7K being the last one to be painted. GMT numbered these buses 3330 to 3339. By 1982 they were refurbished and repainted in orange, brown and white. Despite this refurbishment withdrawals started in 1984, with 9K being the last to go in October 1985.
No 9’s move in to preservation was not an easy one. The first attempt was thwarted by the parents of the would be preservationist who decided that at 17 he was too young to be buying buses. No 9 was moved at his time to the graveyard at Atherton and the future looked bleak. Buses ending up here often left for the scrap yard with their engine cut out, taking the sub frame with it at the same time. During 9’s stay all the windows were smashed and the seats bought for the restoration of another vehicle. Luckily the engine and sub frame remained attached to the bus.
By 1987 a series of lucky finds lead to the seats being recovered, glass sourced at minimal cost, a number of volunteers ready to work on the restoration and no further parental interference. By this time No 9 had been moved to Birchfields Road via a spell at Frederick Road. A large portion of the restoration was completed at Birchfields Road until the clear out of Birchfields Road in 1988 forced another change of accommodation. This time No 9 moved to St Helens Transport Museum.
Restoration was completed at St Helens by 1990 and No 9 was ready for her MOT by May of that year. By summer she had been repainted and was back on the road attending rallies.
No 9 was a regular attendee at rallies during the 1990s. Unfortunately disagreements within the group lead to some absences from the circuit and in 1999 a change in ownership saw three of the group members buying the other members out. With this change No 9 also moved to another new home with the Ribble Vehicle Preservation Trust at Inskip and later Freckleton.
On becoming part of the Wigan Transport Trust collection No 9 was the regular vehicle on the road throughout the 2000s. Major restoration work was taking place on other collection vehicles during this time and No 9 became increasingly in need of further restoration efforts herself. With 8763 coming on to the road it was decided to stand No 9 down until a place in the restoration queue can be found. After spending longer in preservation that she did on the road there is now quite an amount of re-restoration to be done.