WSR Spring Gala shuttle service

I’ve had two conducting turns this weekend. On Saturday I was conducting on LFM 302, a 1950 ex-Crosville Leyland PS1. We have been contracted by the West Somerset Railway to provide a bus service linking their station at Bishops Lydeard with the railway station in Taunton for the duration of the Spring Gala. We had three buses running, one of which was the aforementioned Leyland.

The weather was rather grey and dismal but that didn’t seem to stop families and enthusiasts alike from enjoying the spectacle of an intensive train service up the line to Minehead. Motive power was boosted by a good number of visiting locomotives. At one point I counted five locos in the station, only one of which was resident on the line.

Our single decker can seat 35 people and almost all of those were taken on our second journey of the day. Several folks commented that it was very pleasing and suitable to have a heritage bus bringing people in to the WSR event. I had to agree! At last I was able to get my Crosville badges out and wear them on my newly-acquired winter uniform. I was asked by one passenger who had noticed our destination blind “Are we really going to Llandudno?” I couldn’t help answering “Yes sir, we’ll be there by teatime. Tomorrow.”

Steam seemed to be everywhere. Once, as we crossed over Silk Mill bridge which spans the four running lines heading west out of Taunton, LNER pacific “Bittern” flashed past underneath us, hauling an excursion down to Kingswear on the recently re-named Dartmouth Steam Railway and River Boat Company (formerly the Paignton and Dartmouth Steam Railway). Ironically it would pass through my home town on its way!

Our bus performed well, apart from the first journey of the day, when the indicators refused to work. When the driver found that the horn wasn’t working either, we suspected a blown fuse so we called the duty mechanic. As we drew away from our bus stop underneath the railway bridge at Taunton station, the engine died and refused to respond to the starter button. I ran round the back to start directing the traffic around our disabled bus when it suddenly started again. After switching all the electrics off and starting again, the fault was cured and we even had our indicators back!

The mechanic, who met us at the garage at lunchtime, was still needed but not by us. Our lunch break was cut short by one of the other buses (a Dennis Dart) failing with a broken water pump belt so we had to rush out and run the next service while the mechanic set about replacing the broken belt.

Below: GWR King class 4-6-0 “King Edward I” is wreathed in steam at Bishops Lydeard while visiting BR Standard Class 4 2-6-4T 80104 simmers alongside. The next day I went out on probably the nicest private hire job I’ve done so far. But I’ll write about that later!

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