Fleet Numbering

METHOD 1 - Naming buses

The first manner of identifying vehicles was the use of names. The following names were used :-

'The Alma' FM387 Dennis / Eaton new in 1911 - later numbered No. 2

METHOD 2 - Simple numbering

In about 1915 a simple system of numbering each bus began.

The numbers 1 – 1000 were used and the system worked such that numbers were recycled and used more than once when a vehicle was replaced. In the early days sometimes the registration number was also used more than once. This would occur mainly when a body was re-used with a new chassis or even vice versa.

Examples of numbers being re-cycled :-

The number ‘1’ was used four times (FM1436, FM2622, FM2841, EY3133)

The number ‘2’ six times (FM387, FM1437, FM2623, FM2842, EY3301, LH9432)

The number ‘89’ four times (FM2476, FM2857, EY3584, GJ8075) and

The number ‘90’ four times (FM2477. FM2858. EY3585. JC690)

The number ‘13’ was never used. Initially it was simply missed but for the vehicles FM2849 and FM5243 both carried the fleet number ‘AC’. Signifying A=1 and C=3.

No 82 (FM2365) Leyland GH7LW new in 1922

No 250 (FM4286) Leyland Lion PLSC1 new in 1927

One exception to the rule of using just numbers was the fleet of vehicles purchased in 1924 with the purchase of John Pye of Heswall where numbers with a suffix ‘P’ were used. However in the following year the five vehicles that remained in the fleet were given simple normal fleet numbers :-

10P MA2435 = 178

11P MA4067 = 176

12P MA9927 = 177

16P MA9220 = 180

17P MB1816 = 179

By June 1934 the number 992 had been reached [(FM8423) a Leyland Cub KP2 / Brush]. This was the highest number issued except for No. 1000 which had been allocated in October 1933 to the interesting vehicle AMB256 a AEC Q double deck which had a front entrance and was the only vehicle of its type that came to Crosville - initially as a demonstrator. It later was given the fleet number L87 and then L68 and was withdrawn in 1945.

No. 1000 - later L68 - AMD256 AEC 'Q' with Metro-Cammell front entrance bodywork

Photo courtesy Dennis Kerrison collection

METHOD 3 - One or two digit prefix to signify the type of vehicle

In the latter part of 1934 a new fleet numbering system was designed. This began to be used for vehicles joining the fleet in December 1934 but the system became to be known as the 1935 scheme.

Initially each fleet number consisted of an alpha character which would relate to the vehicle types This would be followed by a number – normally starting at 1 for each type.

D25 (FM6419) Leyland Lion LT2 (Photo Courtesy of Dennis Kerrison)

M130 (FM180) Leyland Titan TD7 / Roe (Photo Courtesy of Dennis Kerrison)

The initial allocation of vehicles types were:-

A Leyland Lion PLSC1

B Leyland Lion PLSC3 and Lioness LC1

C Leyland Lion LT1

D Leyland Lion LT2

E Leyland Lion LT3

F Leyland Lion LT5 (Petrol)

G Leyland Lion LT5A (Petrol)

H Leyland Lion LT7 (Petrol)

J Leyland Lion LT5 (Oil), Daimler CH6 (Oil), ADC 42 (Oil)

K Leyland Lioness LTB and Leyland Tiger (Petrol)

L Double deckers (Petrol)

M Double deckers (Oil)

N Leyland Cub normal control (Petrol)

O Leyland Cub forward control (Petrol)

P Leyland Cub normal control (Oil)


R Tilling Stevens (TSM)

S Albion

T AEC single-deckers

U Miscellaneous

As time progressed new vehicle classifications had to be found and changes were made. Some vehicle classifications used a two digit alpha character.

KA201 (FM6912) Leyland Tiger TS4 / Burlingham

(Photo Courtesy of Dennis Kerrison)

MG629 (ANJ832) Bristol G05G / ECW - (Photo Courtesy of Dennis Kerrison)

METHOD 4 - A three digit prefix

In 1958 a new system of numbering the fleet was introduced. This system was very popular with enthusiasts and a few companies copied the ideas involved.

The new system comprised of three alpha characters followed by a number between 1-999

The 1st Alpha Character showed the type of vehicle

The 2nd Alpha Character showed a code for the manufacturer /type of chassis

The 3rd Alpha Character showed the manufacturer of the engine.

DKB449 (OFM607) - Double decker - Bristol KSW6B - Bristol engine -

(Photo Courtesy of Dennis Kerrison)

ENL896 (GMA399N) - Dual Purpose (Express) - Leyland National - Leyland engine.

(Photo Courtesy of Dennis Kerrison)

CMG 564 (HFM564D) - Coach - Bristol MW6G - Gardner engine

(Photo Courtesy of Dennis Kerrison)

The numbering system at first appeared a little random because where possible the pre 1958 fleet numbers were used with new three alpha prefixes.

Herewith is a full list of the alpha characters used – with the 1958 original series together with the ones added subsequently including those used by Crosville Wales who kept the numbering system for a number of years after the split in the company. Codes in GREEN BOLD are ones that were used initially when the system was introduced in 1958.

1st Alpha Character - type / use of vehicle

2nd Alpha Character - code for the manufacturer / type of chassis

3rd Alpha Character - manufacturer of the engine.

Ancillary Vehicles

Vehicles other than buses and coaches in the Crosville fleet were also given fleet numbers. Some of these vehicles were converted from buses or coaches and the fleet number given was often the same with the omission of the first two alpha characters. e.g. DLG792 (XFM203) Bristol Lodekka LD6G was converted to a training (and tree lopping) bus in January 1974 and became G792.

G792 (XFM203) Bristol LD6G converted to driver trainer and tree lopping vehicle

Photo courtesy Dennis Kerrison

Vehicles such as cars, vans and lorries that had not been a Public Service Vehicle were simply given a fleet number normally between 1-99 and with a suffix of ‘A’. e.g. The engineering van - Freight Rover Sherpa A284VMB was give the fleet number 74A.

74A (A284VMB) Freight Rover Sherpa - Engineering van Photo Courtesy John Baker

Arriva Cymru

Following the change of company name from Crosville Wales to Arriva Cymru the fleet numbering scheme was maintained for about three years until the summer of 2001 when the system was changed to an Arriva corporate arrangement consisting of four numerical digits.


The company Amberline became a subsidiary of Crosville Wales in 1989 and its fleet was given numbers within the parent company's system. This necessitated a few new codes such as 'N' for their Auwärter Neoplan Skyliners and 'L' which was used for both Leyland Atlantean and the rare 7 LAG Panoramic Coaches which were manufactured by LAG Motorcoach (a Belgium company).

PMT Limited

Following the purchase in 1990 by PMT Limited of the depots on the Wirral and Chester together with the associated vehicles the Crosville system of fleet numbering was maintained for a short period. Vehicles arriving from other depots came with the normal PMT number which they retained and those leaving for other areas were given a four digit number very often adding a number to the previous three digit part of the 'Crosville' fleet number. However, in late 1992 a new system was introduced by PMT Limited based loosely on the former Crosville three alpha and three numeric characters. Due to the different vehicles in the fleet a variety of new ‘codes’ were introduced.

Acknowledgement - Grateful thanks to Peter Thorley for his input to this page.