Our tour bus is a classic Art Deco 1951 Thomas Harrington & Sons Ltd. AEC Regal III with a Harrington “Fish tail” coach body. The dorsal fin is for style and gives the impression of increased rear end stability at high speeds.
Thomas Harrington & Sons Ltd was a coach builder in the county of Sussex from 1897 until 1966, initially at Brighton but from 1930 until the end in a purpose built Art Deco factory (an image of which was used on the builder’s transfers) at Old Shoreham Road, Hove.
The company began with the construction of horse-drawn carriages. With the rise of motor vehicle, Thomas Harrington began building on motor car chassis, and prior to WWI began to specialize in commercial vehicles, buses and coaches. After the armistice the company concentrated on luxury coaches supplementing these with some single-deck bus bodies and other general coach building activity.
During WWII they were selected by the War Ministry to build a specialized aircraft design and during their history they also produced ¼ – scale street-legal model coaches to entertain children, pioneered a minibus that bus operators found practical (and legal) to use and drove-forward coach design. They had an open outlook on developments in technology and an excellent grasp of marketing opportunities and an eye for a catchy press advertisement. They nurtured relationships with customers, one at least bought nothing other than Harrington for its entire existence.
In 1965 it was decided to close the factory. Although not a part of the Rootes Group, the operations were owned by a Rootes family investment company. Production ceased in April 1966.Many Harrington vehicles are preserved and Harrington devotees have a gathering of their own.