Back in December I took a couple of quick pictures inside the depot at Crosville while awaiting departure time on a wedding duty. There were, at that time, five heritage vehicles under (or awaiting) repair. With a varied fleet of modern buses and coaches to keep roadworthy and compliant as well, there is always some repair work going on but I was particularly interested in the older ones!
The first to greet me as I came in the door was this 1949 Bedford OB, originally fleet no 207 with Bristol Tramways. It was the first Bedford OB to be delivered to the Tramways, later to become Bristol Omnibus Company, after the war. This bus, which is one of two very similar OBs owned by the Bristol Omnibus Vehicle Collection, has only just been restored but was in the Crosville garage for some attention to the 6-cylinder petrol engine and possibly the brakes too, as the front nearside wheel is missing. The BOVC has close links with Crosville and one day I’d love to drive this OB. The sound of these old Bedfords is very distinctive and takes me right back to my childhood when Tom Phillips, our local coal merchant, had a fleet of very run down OBs and SBs (I think) which operated from a ramshackle yard just round the corner from where I lived in Exmouth. They all wore a very dusty maroon livery.
One of the three Crosville Bristol L single deck buses was undergoing some substantial bodywork restoration. Shown here parked next to a fully restored sister vehicle, L5G KFM893 had spent many years with Quantock Motor Services before joining the Crosville fleet last year and a winter repaint has turned into a much larger project. Quite a lot of the wooden framework has been replaced and will also be fitted with new aluminium panels before the promised repaint. It will then be fit for use on private hire duties again.
Up on the lift was another Crosville single deck bus, this time a Bristol LL6B. NFM46 was acquired last year after a long period in storage and has the distinction of being the last half cab single decker to remain in service with the original Crosville, being finally withdrawn in 1970. It is currently having work done to the brakes and suspension before they tackle the bodywork. It is complete but ‘tired’!
Requiring much more work is NFM67, a Crosville Bristol KSW6B which, like NFM46, was built in 1952. This was towed to W-S-M from long-term storage last year and is in the restoration queue. The work required is quite major. To start with, it will need a new front dome as most of the current one is missing. But an even more pressing need is the Bristol AVW 6-cylinder engine. It hasn’t run for many years and won’t even turn over. Although it would be far easier to replace it with the more common Gardner 6LW unit (as often happened in service), great efforts are being made to retain the original Bristol engine.
Also lurking in the shadows (and boxed in by green Bristols) on my pre-Christmas visit was a red interloper, a London Transport AEC RML. I’m not sure who this belongs to but it’s in for some mechanical work. These are extremely popular for weddings and I know that Crosville would like to add one of these to its working fleet so, if you know of one that’s available (but not for silly money), please let me know!
Not present but also nearing the end of an expensive restoration is Hants & Dorset LD6G SRU981. This went up to Blackpool for a repaint and for the lower saloon seating to be reinstated but, as is common with vehicles of this age, much more work was required and it now has a virtually new platform!
I’m looking forward to driving some of these smart vehicles later this year – watch this space!