Leopard 339 - (Paul Savage)

Leopard 339

When Ulsterbus placed its first new Leyland Leopard in service in 1967 it would have been unlikely anyone might have imagined that by 1984 no fewer than 685, most with Alexander (Belfast) bodies, would have been placed in service. Even more unlikely would have been the thought that some would still be in service in 2006.

However, amongst those few survivors is fleet number 339, the very last to enter service on 1 March 1984. When 339 left the Mallusk factory of Alexander around September 1983 it was initially placed in store until early 1984 when it featured, together with one of the first “N” type Leyland Tigers, in a formal photographic handover by Alexander’s to the Ulsterbus Managing Director, Mr Verner Heubeck.

We are delighted to announce that this historically significant Leopard was, through the good offices of Ulsterbus, formally handed over to the Trust by Translink’s General Manager Bus Services, Mr Philip O’Neill, at the conclusion of this year’s Bus & Coach Rally on Saturday 22 April 2006.

Its early allocation was at Gt. Victoria Street, Belfast until, on the allocation of new Tiger 415, it was transferred to Oxford Street, Belfast on 8 June 1985 where it displaced Leopard 1394 which went in the opposite direction. There it remained until transferred to the Driving School on 2 February 2004 although throughout its two years on training duties it remained available when necessary for service work.

One of 339’s last jobs was on 25 January 2006 when it was hired to the ITT for the Leopard Farewell day in Londonderry. Thereafter it was little used until making a last appearance prior to withdrawal at this year’s Rally. However, a little swansong occurred the following Monday when its very last duty for Ulsterbus was the morning Staff Bus from Gt. Victoria Street to Milewater Road.

339 has recently been fully externally restored to 'as new' condition.