Cascade Tourist Service (HK) Ltd – 1981 imported ex-Nottingham double-deckers – transporting HUD workers

James Chan: Cascade Tourist Service (HK) Ltd, aka Cascade Intertrade Corporation (CIC), was incorporated on 8th August 1975 and dissolved on 31st December 2004.

The company was mainly involved in transporting the workers of Hongkong United Dockyard (HUD) to its Tsing Yi island shipyard but was also involved on hire to Citybus.

“Cascade became the sixth Hong Kong operator to own double-deck buses when, on 16th April 1981, five former Nottingham City Transport Leyland PDR1/3 Atlanteans were delivered from the Paul Sykes Organisation, the Yorkshire dealer.

Cascade was also interesting in that, of its fleet of over forty UK Ford R192 single-deckers, many were assembled at a plant in China, owned by Harper’s, the Ford agent for Hong Kong and South China…

…With its increasing fleet of single-deck buses and a demanding contract to fulfil, Cascade recognised the potential of double-deck buses in improving their driver:passenger ratio with the logical result that they purchased their first, and only double-deckers.

Choice of vehicle was somewhat unusual in that Leyland Atlantean PDR1/3s were acquired. The PDR1/3 was fitted with a drop-centre rear-axle as fitted to the contemporary Albion Lowlander in order to provide a low-floor bus without recourse to the awkward semi-lowbridge layout of early low-height PDR1/1’s as seen on CMB’s LA-class and similar KMB Buses (see Volumes 1&2).

These five buses had started life as Nottingham City 395/6/8/9/400 (VAU395J etc.) and were powered by the Leyland O.680 engine, driving via a Leyland 4-speed semi-automatic gearbox with Pneumo-cyclic control. Gear-change was by miniature gear-lever to the left of the steering wheel. For service in Hong Kong, additional front-mounted radiators were fitted.

Bodywork, by Northern Counties, was of the traditional Nottingham pattern but was low-height at 13ft 8in (4163mm) and was originally LH47/28FE,FdS,CX. but was altered by Sykes by removing the centre exit and re-seating to LH57/41FEX,Fds. A substantial bumper-bar was  also added by Sykes. The original ‘wrap-around’ upper and lower windows were retained but the usual full-depth-sliding windows were provided along each side. The first upper-deck side windows, below the dome, were fitted with UK-style shallow-sliding vents in an innocent attempt to provide ventilation in Hong Kong’s stiflingly humid climate. The window by the staircase was, unusually, not provided with a ‘modesty screen’.

Cascade Tourist Service (HK) Ltd Ex NCT Nottingham City Transport VAU 3995 183 CN1779

Cascade Tourist Service (HK) Ltd Ex NCT Nottingham City Transport VAU 3995, 183 CN1779 Courtesy: www.flickr.com

It was not long before complaints from their passengers brought Cascade to modify the ventilation arrangements at the front of both decks. The driver’s windscreens, including the passenger side, were replaced with sections of flat glass fitted into the curved frame by aluminium frames. The lower edge of each main screen was provided with an opening section to help cool the driver while, on the upper-deck, a similar modification was undertaken but there were no narrow side glasses, just curved metal panels to follow the original contour of the window surround. Dull-depth sliders were incorporated as they were in the first side windows each side.

Cascade applied their livery of white with red bands and the initials ‘CIC’ between decks, together with Chinese equivalent. The style of the livery suited the lines of the Northern Counties bodywork and its distinctive Nottingham styling.

Fleet numbers 181,182, 183, 185 & 186 were carried on the front panels, below the nearside windscreen and were allocated on the grounds that the series was ‘lucky’ by the dictates of ‘Fung Shui’ – a form of Chinese superstition to be taken very seriously indeed. By the same token, 184 was omitted as it was deemed to be ‘unlucky’ as the spoken sound of the number ‘4’ is said to be too close in similarity to the Cantonese word for ‘death’. No control was to be had over Government computers issuing registration numbers including the number ‘4’ and the first in the series (181) was CN468 followed in sequence by CN597, CN1796, CN1935 and CZ2396. 181 did no better when, after some years and for an unknown reason, it was re-registered to become CZ418.

The activities of the Cascade Atlanteans were restricted largely to transporting the workers of Hongkong United Dockyards (HUD) to and from their shipyards, relocated from Yau Tong Bay to Tsing Yi Island but they did, from time to time, find themselves on other types of work, both for CIC and on hire to other operators such as Citybus for duties at Ocean Park in April 1984. Two, 182 and 185, (ex-VAU398J & VAU395J) ended their days on contract hire to Citybus, painted in the yellow Citybus livery, sign-written from the Lok Fu to Central Resident’s service but without Citybus fleetnames. They ran on this service from late 1986 to mid-1987 but there are conflicting reports as to the exact dates. Others were also hired by Citybus at the same time but retained Cascade livery.” (1)

This article was first posted on 23rd April 2017.

Sources:

  1. Hong Kong Buses, Volume 4 Argos Bus Services Co Ltd, Mike Davis, DTS, Publishing UK, 1995

See:

  1. Grace’s Guide -Leyland_Atlantean built 1958 to 1986

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