A particularly satisfying wedding duty came my way the other week when I was rostered to transport a wedding party to a reception venue in Bristol. Satisfying, because I was allocated a bus which ran in the city throughout most of its service life.
I had driven this bus only once before, on my assessment session back in 2011. It was unavailable for service for most of this season due to fuel system repairs and has only recently been declared fit again. I was looking forward to experiencing this bus on a ‘live’ duty and especially as I would be able to drive through the city streets where it was once a familiar sight.
LC8518 was built in 1959 for the Bristol Omnibus city services and has a Bristol AVW 6-cylinder engine driving through a 4-speed gearbox. Top speed is about 33mph so the empty journey from Weston to Bristol gave me plenty of time to become accustomed to the bus. In most respects it was similar to drive to the other Lodekkas I have driven, the most significant difference lay in the AVW engine. This sounds quite different to a Gardner 6LW, more throaty I suppose. It delivers its power differently, too. When I press the loud pedal to accelerate there is a noticeable delay while the engine develops more power. It’s as if it’s girding up its loins for the task ahead! With a 6LW you get what you ask for almost instantly. Once I had allowed for this, driving LC8518 was a real pleasure.
I had allowed more than enough time for the empty journey so I parked up near Clifton Downs to wait time. I drove down Whiteladies Road and parked in a bus layby outside the Victoria Square Hotel. While I waited for the guests to gather and board I met a photographer who happened to be passing on his way home from a long cycle ride. He was interested in the bus and took several shots. The full set is available to view here. Soon afterwards my conductor arrived and we set off on the short drive to Clifton Pavilion, an event venue operated by Bristol Zoo.
Almost as soon as it started, the job was done. Another one of those duties involving a long(ish) empty journey and a relatively short hop with passengers on board. I don’t mind – it’s what the customer has paid for and, as long as everyone is safely and comfortably driven to the venue, I’m happy!
On this occasion it gave us the opportunity to drive the bus through the city centre streets as in days of old. My conductor, a resident of this fair city, took this shot as we stopped briefly at one of the Centre bus stops. After that it was time for me to take the old girl back home to Weston.
Since that duty I have been out again with LC8518’s sister, Bath Services LD6G L8515, along with ‘Bosworth’, a Bedford OB coach which has featured here before.