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Following the First World War, rapid advances in the design and construction of commercial motor vehicles meant that they soon displaced most forms of horse-drawn transport. In the 1920s private bus operations boomed, transforming public transport in Australian cities and regional centres.

The vehicle market became very competitive as numerous overseas manufacturers offered lightweight chassis to Australian bus operators. Although overshadowed by the American products of White and Reo, another American company, Ruggles, supplied chassis to local operators in Australia until their production ceased in 1929.

Constructed on a 1924 Ruggles chassis, this 22 seater typifies the size and style of vehicles which many bus firms bought throughout the early and mid 1920s. Delivered in 1925 to the Riley Brothers of Ettalong Beach on the NSW Central Coast, the bus features a timber framed and panelled body by Syd Wood of Bankstown.

Riley Brothers operated the Ruggles on district services for 21 years. As part of its duties, the bus would have transported both locals and holidaymakers alike to seaside accommodation.

Some time following its withdrawal from service in 1946, the Ruggles saw use as a mobile food shop. Later discovered derelict in Newcastle, it was acquired for preservation, subsequently undergoing a complete rebuild to what was then understood as as-delivered condition in 1978.

While able to operate under its own power, this exhibit is kept as a permanent static member of our collection due to its age, rarity, and significance.


The Ruggles being driven from the former Museum site at Tempe, to the new site at Leichhardt, May 19, 2010.
John Ward, SBM Archives.


The Riley Brother's fleet during the late 1920s to early 1930s, with the Ruggles pictured in the centre, unknown date.
David Wilson Collection.


Hercules 4-cylinder side-value petrol engine, bore 4", store 5".


Three-speed 'crash' constant-mesh gearbox to a crown wheel and pinion differential.


Foot and park brakes mechanically applied to the rear wheels only.

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