Yesterday I spent some time at the Crosville Motor Services depot preparing vehicles for the forthcoming Running Day and Depot Open Day. I also had a meeting with a graphic designer in the town who may be able to take on some of the design and artwork I’ve been doing in my spare time. The volume of work required by Crosville has increased massively as the company has grown and matured, far beyond my capacity to keep up in my spare time!
It was very interesting to see Crosville during a typical working day. As I arrived, the Hants & Dorset Bristol FLF was up on jacks having its chassis cleaned in preparation for being silvered.
After my meeting with the designer I took myself off in the car to drive around the Service 152 route (Weston-super-Mare to Uphill) which is my rostered duty for this Sunday, the day of the Running Day. I’ve only ever seen the route on a map, not in the flesh, as I haven’t actually been any further into Weston than the depot!
In the afternoon I joined a team which was cleaning the heritage buses in preparation for the Running Day. These included several buses belonging to the Bristol Omnibus Vehicle Collection which are garaged alongside Crosville’s own heritage fleet. Already outside the garage door was a Bristol Omnibus Company (BOC) Bristol KSW. I donned a borrowed dayglo-orange overall and used a jetwash to rinse down the bus after one of the team had been around with a soapy brush. We also checked oil, water and fuel levels.
I had worked with one member of the cleaning team some time ago when I conducted for Quantock Motor Services on the late-lamented Service 400 ‘Exmoor Explorer’. He climbed into the cab to drive the bus over to a secure compound elsewhere on the industrial estate. He had been a conductor – and later a driver – for BOC in earlier years and he told me that he’d driven this same bus in service in 1967 but hadn’t driven a Bristol KSW since then! He waved a piece of paper he’d found on the seat which said “Caution – no handbrake!” I do hope it’s fixed before Sunday!
We made an impressive line-up in the compound which now included 2 Lodekkas, the KSW we’d just cleaned and a 1946 BOC Bristol K6A. We added a further 2 BOC KSWs and a Bath Services lowbridge KSW before we started on the single deckers at the end of the line which included one of the prototype Bristol LS-type saloons.
It was hot and tiring work which was made much easier by working in a team, each of them passionate about presenting these historic vehicles in as good a condition as possible. As we wielded brooms, mops and jetwash lances we had much banter and teasing. I was particularly impressed by the 12-year-old son of one of the team who seemed just as knowledgable about the heritage buses as we were. He had even memorised all their registration numbers!
While all this was going on, the normal day-to-day work of a busy bus garage continued around us. The Engineering Manager and his young apprentice were fitting a new hub and brake disc assembly to one of the modern coaches; a mechanic was starting the restoration of an ex-Crosville Bristol LL6B; another was making bodywork repairs to damaged panels from another coach and upstairs in the office various staff were keeping on top of the hire bookings and accounting.
Towards the end of the day, a visiting bus arrived for secure storage in readiness for the Running Day. It was yet another BOC Bristol KSW! This had recently completed a lavish and extensive restoration and looked absolutely mint. Its fleet/reg number was next in line to one of the KSWs we’d cleaned earlier.
I finally left at about 7.30pm. The resident crew had another 5 buses to clean the next day!
If you’re planning to come along to the Running Day, please bring along your cameras. Oh, and some sunshine. It will cost you £5 to buy a programme and the event runs from 10am until 5pm. If you would like to share some of your pics with the folks who read this blog (as I’ll be busy driving and probably won’t be able to take any pictures) then please send them to me.