JOHN Sprackling of Poole and Peter Delaney of Wargrave, Berkshire, commented on John Duckenfield's photograph of an Excelsior European Motorways coach in Oslo printed on October 25.

The Reliance coach with ULJ800 registration plate had an underfloor engine built at Southall, Middlesex. The bodywork was built by Plaxtons in Scarborough and would have been new in late 1957.

Excelsior Motorways was started in Bournemouth in 1928 by Walter Maitland to run local tours and excursions from Bournemouth, initially with a 20 seat coach, and a base in Southcote Road. A booking office was opened in Holdenhurst Road to rival Shamrock and Rambler on the same road. Later their main office was in Sea Road, Boscombe.

In 1950 they formed the subsidiary company Excelsior European Motorways taking on tours to the continent with Walter's son, Vernon in charge. From 1953 much of that was arranged as a coach-air service in co-operation with Swissair.

In 1957 Vernon started a new venture, tours to Moscow using two AEC Reliance coaches. They were the first coaches to travel to Moscow since before the war. The 4,000 mile route via Ostend, Brussels, Hanover, Berlin, Poznan, Warsaw, Minsk and Smolensk to Moscow cost £94 10s per passenger. John thinks the coach pictured was one of these coaches that made the trip.

Vernon promoted many continental coach tours, and at one stage had the names of the countries they went to painted on the side of the vehicle, including Scotland, France, Holland, Denmark, Sweden and Norway.

A couple years after the Moscow tours started Excelsior ran the first non-stop coach between London and Moscow taking 45 hours and using a Ford coach owned by Excelsior.