Clifton Downs scenic tour

I was delighted to arrive at the Crosville depot last Saturday to find that I was rostered with my friend Paul to drive a two-bus wedding day trip to Clifton Downs, Bristol. Not only that, but we had two buses that I may have seen in my youth. Regular readers will know all about the ex-Hants & Dorset Bristol FLF which I seem to have driven more than any other bus this year (not that I’m complaining, of course). H&D buses often ran into Salisbury bus station on the Southampton service and I saw these many times during family holidays to Salisbury.

The other vehicle was LD6G 696EHW from Bath Services, a subsidiary of Bristol Omnibus. I used to see this bus (and others from the Bath Services fleet) pass my grandparents’ house in Wilton Road, Salisbury on its way in to the city’s bus station. So you can imagine it was rather special to have these two buses out on a private hire job together. They are pictured below parked up in Albert Road, Bristol awaiting the call to pick up wedding guests nearby.

As you can see, both vehicles are equipped with the Cave-Browne-Cave cooling system, the filling of which requires two people so Paul and I helped each other top up each other’s bus before we left the depot.

Both buses are fitted with 5-speed gearboxes so our progress up the A370 was fairly swift. We arrived near the pickup point with time to spare so we waited for a call from one of the ushers. The pickup point was on the busy A4 and we had arranged, with military precision, a pickup with minimal disruption to the traffic. The only flaw was that there were roadworks right outside the Arnos Vale Cemetary, where we were to pick up our passengers. As it happened there was a gap in the coned off areas just big enough for a bus to pull in. Paul pulled in with the Bath Services Lodekka while I waited further back up the road at a bus stop. The road was helpfully straight so I could see the bus being loaded. When Paul climbed into his cab I pulled out of the bus stop and stopped in the gap which he had just vacated and continued to load the remaining guests.

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Gardner 6LW engine transplant

While preparing Crosville’s ex-Hants & Dorset Bristol FLF for a wedding job last Saturday I took the picture below. Parked just beyond my bus was another Bristol FLF and, behind that, an ex-Bath Services Bristol KSW.

It reminded me that the ex-Bristol Omnibus FLF (the one wearing the rather faded NBC Leaf Green livery) has survived into preservation complete with its original Bristol BVW engine. The KSW also retains it’s Bristol engine, in this case an AVW.

The H&D FLF was itself delivered with a Bristol engine but lost it in the 1970s when numerous strikes caused the supply of spare parts to dry up. Desperate to keep it’s fleet of Lodekkas going, Hants & Dorset (in common with many other operators faced with the same problem) cannibalised older Bristol Ks and transplanted their sturdy Gardner 6LW engines into the newer buses.

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History of Bere Regis Motor Service book – artworker needed

There’s an opportunity for someone with design or artworking skills to help publish a book on the history of Bere Regis Motor Service. The pictorial history has already been written and images have been scanned. I have been involved in similar publications before, most recently a pictorial history of AEC vehicles in the South West.

“One Hundred Years of AEC in the West Country” is published by the Westcountry Historic Omnibus & Transport Trust (WHOTT) and was written by local AEC officionado Phil Platt and John Sykes, who worked for AEC (and then Leyland) for many years.

The Bere Regis book will be very similar and needs someone with access to suitable page layout software (Adobe InDesign or QuarkXPress for example) to prepare the artwork. There is a budget for this available but it’s not huge, as the funds of the Trust are limited.

If you can help, please leave a comment and I will put you in touch with my contact at WHOTT. Thank you!

New batch of Tilling-style jackets: interested?

Following my previous post about surviving summer dust jackets from former Tilling Group operators, I have been in touch with one of my blog readers. Between us we have hatched a plan to have some new jackets made.

The trouble with original jackets is, as you can see, they are all at least 40 years old now and most will have had a harsh working life before that. Quite apart from the fact that they are about as rare as hen’s teeth when it comes to acquiring one these days.

A chap I know is part of a group that commissioned a new batch of London Area jackets from a workwear manufacturer. They turned out to be really rather good, being made from the correct cotton twill fabric and double-stitched as per the originals. Our plan is to investigate the costs involved in having another batch made, this time using an original (unissued and unwashed) Crosville jacket as a template.

We would have both green and red trim made so that drivers and conductors can have a jacket that is correct for the bus operator of their choice. We believe that the base ‘khaki’ colour was common to both green and red fleets, unless you know different. In which case, please say so!

The success of this project depends of course on a viable number of people being willing to place an order. I plan to publicise this in as many places as possible, directing people to this blog and the Poll that you see on the right of this page.  The cost of each jacket will of course depend on the size of the order so please use the Poll to signify your interest. To set your mind at rest, an expression of interest does not constitute an order but we would hope that it will be a firm commitment to buy, when the time for ordering comes.

Just one thing; if you email me or leave a comment expressing interest, please tell me if you’ve voted in the Poll as well, otherwise you’ll be counted twice!

A growing number of heritage buses are being returned to use, many of them for commercial operations such as private hire and weddings. The one thing that is often missing though is correctly dressed crews, which is why this new batch should be very popular.

And if anyone needs a new cap with yellow piping, I have a contact for those as well!