The Early AEC Buses of Malta

K and S (and Y too ?)
(major update - 26th October 2016)

Official records kept at the London Transport Museum have revealed that in August 1931, Joseph Gasan, recent purchaser of the British Motor Company bus operation in Malta purchased 10 buses from the London General Omnibus Company - 8 single deck AEC K-types and a pair of double deck AEC PS-types.
The eight single deck AEC K-types had been numbered K140, K173, K605, K665, K675, K688, K747 and K1120 in London. They were new in 1920/1 (except K1120 which was new between 1924 and 1926). Seating was provided for 30 passengers.

They were purchased by Joe Gasan on 18th August 1931 and we know at least six of the eight entered service in the latter quarter of the year. Registrations known to have been allocated are 2621, 2625, 2658, 2659, 2673 and 2674. It is not yet known if the other two also saw use (in which case the registrations carried are currently not known), or whether they were used for spare parts. 

Their life in Malta was not long, and a document dated 14th October 1932 states that all six were "now withdrawn pending replacement by new buses in 1933", suggesting they barely saw 12 months use. Files for three of the buses have yet to be seen, and the files for the other three are missing much of their early paperwork so little is known about them, and we certainly don't currently know which UK identity became which Maltese identity. It appears several of the buses did not see replacements enter service until 1934/5, so it may be some were reinstated and saw use in 1933/4, but this cannot currently be confirmed. 

So far no photographs of these buses have come to light of their use in Malta. 

To see a photograph of a typical single deck K-type in London, click on this button to be taken to a photograph on the London Transport Museum website. 
(Note this link is slow to load !)

K-type single deckers

The official vehicle files refer to the arrival in 1931 of two second-hand AEC double deck buses for use by the Gasan-owned BMC operation on one of the Sliema routes. The files sadly do not list chassis numbers or UK registration numbers. They do confirm that their Maltese registrations were 2536 and 2620 (at least the latter of which was previously allocated to one of the Hall-Lewis bodied Thornycroft buses that left Malta in 1931, suggesting these two double deckers were direct replacements). 
They ran for Gasan until the start of the Second World War when both were impressed with the RAF. They were both damaged whilst with the RAF, and at least one saw use in a very battered condition as a fuel bowser (for those of you with the Bonnici and Cassar book written around 20 years ago about Malta's buses, see the photos on page 34). Although returned to Gasan's BMC at the end of the war, neither ever saw use again due to their poor condition and were instantly withdrawn. 
Thanks to Les Stitson from the Omnibus Society's London Historic Research Group, it is possible to now confirm that these two buses were purchased by Joe Gasan from the London General Omnibus Company, where they had spent their entire life running for the LGOC's associate company East Surrey, with whom they were numbered 118 and 137, and carried registrations PD 1356 (118) and PD 1364 (137). This makes them "PS" type buses (a variant of the main "S" type). Sadly we may never know which bus became which in Malta though. 

Also, thanks to some searching by Terry Partridge, a photo of 137 with East Surrey has been found online. Click on this button to be taken to it.


BELOW LEFT: A copy of a poor quality photograph that Roger de Boer has in his collection, showing one of the two AEC double deckers in the Gasan fleet during the 1930s, as it departs from the Kingsgate bus terminus bound for Sliema.

BELOW RIGHT: Courtesy of Robert Camilleri is a copy of the well known photograph of one of the double deckers in use as a fuel bowser with the RAF at Luqa during World War 2. He obtained the image from the now defunct 'Malta National War Association'.

PS-type double deckers

East Surrey 137
  • The AEC "S" type was built between 1920 and 1927.
    (source )

  • To see a photograph of a restored double deck London AEC "S" type click on this button to be taken to one.

  • ​It is not known what happened to any of these AEC buses. The two most likely options are that they were scrapped upon withdrawal, or that they were converted for use as lorries (either with the bus bodies converted for use as open trucks or closed vans), or the body being scrapped and the chassis reused as a "new" lorry. 

*** HELP REQUIRED!! ***  Can you help fill in any of the holes in our knowledge about these buses?  If you know of any photographs of either type in Malta, please get in touch - click on this button ...

What else 
do we ​  know ?

Double Deck
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Even earlier AECs ?

It appears that these may not have been the first buses in Malta to be built on AEC chassis. A photo appeared earlier this year on the "Bay Retro" Facebook page showing an early bus in Malta on a private hire job. The photo was apparently taken in 1923 and looking at the roof line and what can be seen of the vehicle, it would appear to be a WW1 AEC Y-type truck converted for use as a early bus.

The Y-type was used widely by the British military in World War 1 and it is quite likely some found their way to Malta during (or after) the War. Like after WW2, surplus vehicle chassis would have been used to build locally bodied buses. How many saw use as buses is not known (this might have been the only one !), and currently nothing is known about the bus (registration, date new, date withdrawn etc).

BELOW: The 1923 photo showing what may be an AEC Y-type bus in Malta.

To see a photo of a restored AEC Y-type lorry (so you can compare it with the 1923 photo), click on this button.
Restored Y-type