It’s time for another delve in the archives. I took this photograph at the Great Dorset Steam Fair, a mind-blowing feast of transport nostalgia. Among the many static displays in 1989 was this pair of buses, each one being particularly significant to me. So it was quite a coincidence to find them parked next to each other!
VFJ 995 is a 1958 Leyland Titan PD2/40 with MCW bodywork. It was one of a batch of 5 purchased by Exeter Corporation, mostly for city work although, in my childhood, I did see them occasionally on the Exmouth – Exeter service. They would also turn up on schools service outside the comprehensive in Exmouth in the early 1970s.
One memory that sticks in my mind relates to the characteristic idling sound of a Leyland diesel engine. I can remember walking past the old bus garage in Exmouth on my way home from school. Quite often one of these PD2s would be waiting with its engine running before setting off to Exeter. I don’t know why, but Leyland engines of that era would often ‘hunt’ when idling, the revs gently rising and falling. This would be accompanied by a strange whistling sound, probably air entering the intake. Whenever I hear one of the old QMS Leylands idling it brings those memories back!
VFJ 995 is now in the care of Colin and Dan Shears and appears regularly at Westcountry rallies.
OHR 919 is one of many Bristol LD6G Lodekkas in the Wilts & Dorset fleet. These were very familiar to me as I spent many childhood holidays in Salisbury. Riding in these Tilling Red machines probably ensured that later in life I would eventually drive one! OHR 919 is now part of the Three Counties Bus Collection, Southampton and also still attends rallies and running days.
If you’ve never been, plan to go to the Great Dorset Steam Fair this year. It runs from Wednesday 1st September until Sunday 5th September 2010.