Exeter Corporation buses in Devon General livery

This photograph brings back sad memories of the demise of Exeter Corporation as an independent municipal operator. The familiar green and magnolia livery of the ‘City of Exeter’ buses disappeared, to be obliterated by the all-encompassing and singularly ugly NBC Poppy Red.

Exeter City Council lost control of its bus fleet and routes when the National Bus Company took over in 1970. The equally distinctive Devon General fleet was merged with Exeter Corporation and Western National at the same time and this gave rise to some interesting liveries during the changeover period. I took the photograph above at Exeter Bus Station at this time and it shows one of the Exeter Leyland PD2s wearing the Devon General maroon and cream livery with NBC fleetnames. A most bizarre sight, as I was more used to seeing this livery on the AEC single and double deckers of the ‘real’ Devon General!

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Torbay Vintage Bus Running Day 2010

An event coming up soon – one for which I have been planning for ages it seems – is the Torbay Vintage Bus Running Day. On Sunday September 5th a wide range of buses with a Westcountry connection will gather at Shedden Hill car park either for static display or to run free services along the seafront.

I have entered ex-Western National Bristol LDL 1935 (VDV752) and have permission to drive it down to Torbay for the day. Why this particular vehicle? Well, after operating from the WN Camborne depot from its introduction in 1957, it was converted to open top for tourist services (acquiring the name ‘Admiral Boscawen’) in the mid-1970s. It was soon transferred to South Devon where it ran services, along with sister LDL VDV753, to Totnes, Paignton and Torquay. By then Western National had merged with Devon General and 1935 wore the new NBC Poppy Red and White livery with Devon General fleetnames. I have acquired a photograph of this vehicle taken while the bus was parked in Palk Street, Torquay which is near the harbour, while on Service 124.

Why all this background? I intend to take the bus, owned and operated by Quantock Motor Services for many years, back to Palk Street and have it photographed again during the running day. A kind of ‘then and now’ shot, 35 years on.

If any of my blog readers are interested in joining me for the trip down to Torquay, please leave a comment and I’ll get in touch to make arrangements.

Another trainee bus conductor

I’ve started training yet another young bus conductor to join the roster at Quantock. We were out on the Service 400 “Exmoor Explorer” on Saturday and, after shadowing me on the morning trip, he donned my Setright machine and cash bag and conducted on the afternoon trip.

He did quite well for his first outing so it won’t be long before he can go solo. In fact I was quite proud of him. And so I should be, he’s my youngest son!

Eventually, once I’ve passed my PCV practical test, we’ll make a good driver/conductor team.

I was out both days this weekend and the rostered drivers were both new to me as they’re both relative newcomers to the company and have only done the 400 route a few times. One of them really struggled with the crash gearbox, mostly due to the fact that he was still unfamiliar with the route and couldn’t judge the best places to change gear. Several times he tried to change up but the bus almost rolled to a standstill on the uphill gradient while the engine revs died away. The other driver seemed to have less trouble and we had a smoother ride.

We met and passed some unusual traffic this weekend. A 1950s motorbike (one lung, put-put-put), Quantock’s brand new Dart bus on the Service 39, two enormous green tractors hauling balers, an old Alvis car on it’s way back from the WSR Steam Fayre, several cyclists and two horses.

I’ve got an interesting trip coming up in a few weeks time. It involves a 1957 Bristol Lodekka, a seaside town and an old photograph. See my next post for more details!

An absence of action

OK, so it’s been a bit quiet around here. Not because I’ve lost interest, far from it. I’ve been away to warmer climes for a holiday.

It wasn’t a busman’s holiday either, before some smart-alec asks. Having said that, Lanzarote does have buses. Here’s one trying to squeeze onto the car ferry.

They’re nearly all single deckers and about half a mile long. The 3-axle air-conditioned Irizar monstrosities seem to weave around the narrow streets of the resorts with very little bother at all. The drivers, both male and female, are expert at judging distances and negotiating tight corners. Some buses even have anti-grounding devices (for want of a better phrase) which are strong metal extensions to the chassis mounted under the front of the body. These serve to protect the hugely overhanging bodywork from striking the pavements.

Then there’s the stunning coach fleet of AmandaBus. Sleek, modern …and pink. And yellow. In fact every colour under the (extremely hot) sun.

Now I’m back in the UK it’s back to normality and a weekend of heritage buses. I’m conducting on the Exmoor Explorer both days (with another new trainee) and a number of our fleet will be out running the shuttle service into Taunton for the WSR Steam Fayre and Vintage Vehicle Rally at Norton Fitzwarren. If you come for a ride on the Service 400 from Minehead, introduce yourself!