Current status: Externally restored
but undergoing mechanical attention
Twenty-three Dennis Lancets (later known as the Mk 1 model) were built in Guildford for the Southern Vectis Omnibus Company between 1934 and 1936. The first batch were bodied by Eastern Counties in Lowestoft whilst the second (of which DL 9706 is one) had bodies built by Harrington of Hove, Sussex. This particular example was first registered on July 1st 1935.
The chassis is numbered 170955 and is powered by a 5.7 litre Dennis “Big 4” petrol engine through a four-speed sliding-mesh gearbox. The body was single-deck with rear entrance and seated thirty six passengers. Southern Vectis numbered the vehicle 516 in their fleet, although at that time fleet numbers were rarely referred to.
DL 9706 was one of a number of Dennis Lancets to be requisitioned by the War Department from Southern Vectis in April 1941. In July 1943, the vehicle returned to the company, but it was selected to be one of six sent to Eastern Coach Works at Irthlingborough, Northamptonshire for rebodying in 1944. As these were new bodies on old chassis, full austerity standards were not applied, and the new ECW Series 1 thirty-five seat bodies on these vehicles had rear entrances. The original seats, luggage racks and light fittings were re-used. The body fitted to DL 9706 was numbered 8356 by ECW and 5016 by Southern Vectis.
DL 9706 was withdrawn in 1952 (after big-end failure) and sold to a dealer by the name of Joliffe, based in Somerton, Cowes in 1953.
By 1957, DL 9706 had been purchased by the building contractors Cheek Brothers (who are now part of Bardon Vectis) based at St. George’s Down, Newport. They converted it to a mobile workshop and mess room, towing it from building site to building site with a traction engine. At some time, the original windows were removed and panelled over, some household “push-out” windows were provided.
The bus was sold in July 1965 to John Golding, of Wellow, Isle of Wight who used it as a static workshop. It was towed to his premises by traction engine. In 1974 it was built into a shed (forming part of one wall) constructed to house a collection of preserved vehicles.
It was purchased by ourselves for preservation in November 1989, and was transported to the mainland (probably for the first time since 1944) during December.
Extensive restoration, perhaps better described as a complete rebuild, took place between 1989 and 2015 with the majority of the external and mechanical work undertaken by Ward Jones Commercial Vehicles of High Wycombe. Internal restoration will be undertaken locally over the next few years.
After restoration, DL 9706 was delivered to our premises by low-loader on 26th April 2015. After ironing out some small mechanical issues the bus made its first test outing under its own power for 64 years on 6th September 2016. And the following weekend, it took part in the Stoke Bruerne Village at War event.