THE STORY OF LEOPARD 14 SO FAR

PPT446P is a Leyland Leopard 55 seat Plaxton Derwent which was supplied new to SUMMERSON BROS of West Auckland in 1976, carrying their iconic Red and Ivory livery and the famous THE EDEN fleet names.

Summersons had been a long term buyer of the Plaxton Derwent having purchased the first one made in 1968 (TUP188E).

Leopard 14 being a standard bus was used for most work carried out by THE EDEN at that time, namely Dual Crew stage carriage service and School contract work in addition to workers services to the busy Aycliffe Trading Estate.

The bus remained in the company fleet through the 70's and 80's before finally being sold in 1992.

The new owners would be Bygone Buses was a post-deregulation bus operator based in Biddenden, Kent, England, they firstly painted Lep 14 into an all over red, and again later in a yellow and darker red.

The Bus remained at Bygone for a couple of years or so before once again heading back to County Durham, this time in the ownership of bus enthusiast and by now former The Eden driver Stephen Foster who had bought PPT446P together with PPT445P for preservation with the intention of restoring them to their former glory, and showing them in his preservation group Autumn Leaf preservation, he placed both vehicles into outside storage near Barnard Castle.

Due to changes in Stephen's employment, both vehicles remained untouched for several years and Stephen decided that something had to be done to secure the vehicles a long term future, so he offered the vehicles to another enthusiast Graeme Scarlett.

Graeme Scarlett is also a former driver who has a passion for all things to do with The Eden, so much so that when the company was sold to the North East Bus Group in 1995, Graeme successfully negotiated a deal to purchase the intellectual property rights to the The Eden and name and logo's, which he now uses for his day to day operations from the original depot in West Auckland.

When Stephen offered Graeme the buses it was on the understanding that at least one was for preservation, Graeme agreed to this heavy commitment and after an inspection of both vehicles it was decided that whilst PPT445P (Lep12) wasn't salvageable, Leopard 14 could be a preservation prospect and so a programme of works was drawn up and tradesmen and helpers were drafted in to get the project underway.

"I thought it would be a matter of months" said Graeme, but in reality the project took over 7 years! to see the bus back on the road and running under it's own power. " We have a lot of people to thank for advice and skills given, but special mention should be given to Craig Smith, who put a lot of time and effort into the mechanical side of the bus and Kenny Nesbitt, Kenny gave a lot of time and energy to the real graft, and sadly died before he saw the project finished, and Graeme continued  that "without Kenny the project would certainly not have been completed at all".

Happily the project did eventually come to completion, and Leopard 14 was painted back into it's own original livery of The Eden and sent for MOT in May 2013, The bus passed first time and was displayed at the Fathers Day rally hosted by The North East Bus Preservation Trust in June 2013.

Leopard 14 has been shown at Rallies and Gala's on a number of occasions , and Graeme plans to continue to show it in 2021 starting at The Eden Valley Classic Rally at Kirkby Stephen and Brough, in Cumbria on Easter Sunday 2021





 













LEOPARD 14 (PPT446P) is currently off the road and SORN for the winter months.

VISITS TO THE EDEN'S  WEST AUCKLAND DEPOT ARE NO LONGER POSSIBLE, FOR THE FORESEEABLE FUTURE. 



WE HAVE DECIDED ON A NUMBER OF RALLIES AND EVENTS FOR 2017 WHICH ARE LISTED BELOW.


EASTER SUNDAY.  BROUGH AND KIRKBY STEPHEN RALLY


TBC.   TEESSIDE 500 RUNNING DAY.


TBC. FATHERS DAY RALLY,  HOWLANDS PARK AND RIDE SITE, DURHAM CITY.

SPENNYMOOR GALA

TYNE TEES ROAD RUN, SOUTH SHIELDS.

LOCOMOTION MUSEUM, SHILDON.