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During the 1930s, the Department of Road Transport and Tramways (DRTT) devised a standard single-deck omnibus body which was suitable for fitting to the various makes of British chassis. These new buses supported the double-deck fleet by working on routes with lighter patronage, or with low-clearance bridges. They also worked to replace an assortment of older non-standard single-deck buses which the DRTT had since acquired through its takeover of numerous private operators. ​

The Department's single-deck design had front and rear entrances, seated 34 passengers, and positioned the driver in a separate cabin aside the engine in the same manner as the double-deckers. Known as 'half-cabs', 78 vehicles were delivered between 1935 and 1939 on AEC, Leyland, Albion and Dennis chassis.

Of the six Dennis Lancet half-cabs built, the last four delivered had steel framed bodies constructed by Waddingtons in 1938. Completed in April that year, and delivered in the new green and cream livery for DRTT single-deckers (the livery previously being black and white, with brown roof), 1492 initially was placed into service at Burwood Depot, and later North Sydney.

The original four-cylinder Dennis engines proved difficult to maintain, especially during the Second World War when parts became near impossible to obtain. Some vehicles subsequently had their original Dennis engines replaced by Leyland or Perkins units.

Withdrawn from Government service in June, 1947, 1492 languished at Leichhardt Workshops until being sold in 1949. The bus then saw service for private operators around Punchbowl and Bankstown until 1958, when it was subsequently purchased by a grazier in Warren, Western NSW, for use as a hay shed.

In 1978 the body and chassis, devoid of the engine, were saved for preservation by a group of Museum members. Restoration, including the sourcing of a replacement Perkins engine, was made possible through a series of grants from the Australian Bicentennial Committee and the NSW Heritage Council.

1492 remains operable, but is currently off the road due to its significance as a permanent exhibit.

You can see this, and many other of the Museum's pre-war exhibits, operating in footage of the Ryde Heritage Week shot by Member Greg Travers in 2000 here.


1492 while being shunted at the Museum prior to opening in 2016. Liam Brundle.


1492 operating at the old Museum site at Tempe Depot in the early 1990s. SBM Archives.


6.5 litre 4-cylinder Dennis diesel engine, bore 4.6", store 5.9" developing 82 bhp.


Five-speed synchromesh with overdrive to a worm drive differential.


Lockheed hydraulic assisted by a Dewandre vacuum servo.

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