The history of AFM 103 G - Part 1 : The Tilling years (1969-1972)

  AFM103G was delivered to Crosville, as its number CRG103 on 6th Feb 1969. Crosville also gave the vehicle a 'handbook' number of 4004. The Eastern Coachworks body (Number 17479) had 47 coach seats, a bus-style destination panel, a bus type (folding) door and a Webasto heating system. The chassis (number RELH-4-196) was fitted with air suspension and a Gardner 6HLX engine driving through a semi-automatic gearbox.

Whilst the National Bus Company had been created the previous month nothing had really changed yet and AFM103G was delivered in the traditional Crosville coach livery, and worked on the coach network that Crosville had built up. Pictures exists of it working the X2 London - Liverpool service in this livery in June 1970 and the X61 (Motorway) service on an unknown date.

It was one of a batch of 10 (AFM102G-AFM111G) that were ordered at the same time, with 102-110 being used from Liverpool and Rock Ferry (Birkenhead) garages on the main express services to London. These vehicles had a unique (to Crosville) feature with illuminated panels on the side spelling out 'Liverpool London Motorway Express'. Whilst these were now lit with fluorescent lights, the idea dated back to the earliest days of coach, or stagecoach, operation!

The picture on the right is actually a recent one of sister vehicle AFM106G. A picture is available of it in 1972 with all its panels still fitted.

Photo Copyright Carl Berry
Crosville Express Services Booklet 1969

Crosville's express coach services from Merseyside 1969-1970:
X1Liverpool - Birkenhead - Chester - Birmingham - Stratford upon Avon - Oxford - London
X2Liverpool - Birkenhead - Chester - Newcastle under Lyme - Crewe - Tamworth - London (Summer only)
X18Liverpool - Birkenhead - Chester - M6 - M1 - London
X61Liverpool - Runcorn - M6 - M1 - London
X3Liverpool - Birkenhead - Prestatyn - Rhyl - Colwyn Bay - Llandudno
X7Liverpool - Birkenhead - Chester - Wrexham - Llangollen - Betws y Coed - Bangor - Caernarfon
X10Liverpool - Wrexham - Oswestry - Machynlleth - Aberystwyth
X71Liverpool - Wrexham - Oswestry - Newtown - Llandrindod Wells - Brecon - Cardiff - Barry
In the winter of 1971/1972 3 of the 4 illuminated panels on the side, that were a feature of Crosville coaches, would have been covered up. A photo exists of the coach in the slightly modified Crosville coach livery, with only one of the panels fitted. Its likely that CRG103 left Liverpool in July 1972 when the CRL259-CRL268 batch of coaches arrived for the London services. It was operating from Heswall, by August 1972.

There is a record of it operating from Holyhead depot in mid September 1972, though this is likely to have been a short-term loan. It was definitely back on Merseyside, at Heswall, by 1973.