Vintage bus driving – a photo potpourri

There have been so many vintage bus duties this summer that I haven’t had time to share each one individually so here’s a potpourri of recent activities.


A private hire for Crosville that was unusual – it wasn’t a wedding or a school prom! Global Design Solutions had hired Southern Vectis 573 (YDL317) to take its staff from Bristol to Bath, where they were celebrating 10 years in business. While the party and presentations were going on in the Salamander restaurant, I parked the bus in the Riverside Coach Park where it contrasted starkly with much more modern machinery!


Another private hire involved the English Riviera Sightseeing Tours bus, Southport Corporation 86 (FFY403). Directly after the afternoon sightseeing tour we picked up a load of enthusiasts from the Merseyside Bus Club. On this occasion I acted as Tour Guide, wielding a microphone instead of a steering wheel. The latter was in the care of Glyn, with whom I share the regular driving duties on this bus. We took our passengers around the Torquay segment of our normal tour route, stopping on Babbacombe Downs (seen above) for photos and also Meadfoot Beach.


One of my favourite buses at the moment is this Bristol L5G, Crosville KG131 (KFM893). I took her up to Bristol for a wedding duty, picking up the bride and her entourage from Fishponds and taking them to the SS Great Britain. They had arranged for me to reverse the bus right onto the quayside. In the photo, the back of the bus is about 20 yards from the stern of Brunel’s historic ship.


One of the stars of the Crosville Bus Rally in July was this London Transport RTW (photographed by my conductor Richard Kemble and used here with his permission). This is one bus which I haven’t yet managed to drive. It joined the Crosville heritage fleet last year and only comes out to play at rallies and running days at the moment. It is usually driven by the MD of Crosville Motor Services. I have been invited to drive it one day but the opportunity hasn’t arisen yet. Perhaps I shall have to create one, or it may not ever happen!


I have visited one particular venue in Bristol, which is rather tricky to access, several times. Knowing the hazards in advance is handy so on this occasion I was able to call on my youngest son Peter, who was home from college and available to join me as conductor. The Merchants Hall in Clifton is a large building with a narrow gateway which can only be negotiated by reversing the bus. The road layout at the entrance is not helpful and parked cars just add to the workload! Peter has conducted before so I explained my plan and he knew just where to stand. We managed to get in and out without too much trouble and without gouging a rut in the grass, much to the relief of the Irish doorkeeper!


I’ve included this photo because it shows a poorly injector. It belongs to the Sightseeing PD2 that I drive every week and you can see that the top of the injector body is wet with leaking diesel fuel. A while ago it went unserviceable due to a split injector pipe which meant that, as well as dripping fuel all over the road, it was only running on 5 cylinders. I managed to locate a replacement pipe at the West of England Transport Collection at Winkleigh and its custodian, my helpful friend Daniel Shears, removed it from a scrap o.600 engine for me to collect. The very next day it was fitted and the bus was fit for duty again.


Finally, a photo of another School Prom job for Crosville. This was an end-of-year party for the Year 6 leavers at Brockworth Primary School, Gloucester and here you see some of them boarding the bus, Southern Vectis 573 (Bristol FS6G YDL318) outside the school gate. Some of you will already know that this bus only does 30mph flat out so it will come as no surprise when I tell you that the outward empty journey from Weston to Gloucester took rather a long time! The destination was only half a mile from the school but they had asked for a 45 minute ride before arriving so I took them on a jaunt around the countryside, through Cheltenham and back to Gloucester. The children were understandably excited and boisterous but I have learned to tune out the high volume of noise!

That’s it for now. Thanks for reading!





4 comments on “Vintage bus driving – a photo potpourri

  1. Helen says:

    SVOC 573 would have been one of my very favourite buses for winter conducting back in the 60s and 70s, not so chilly as other rear entry buses! In those days a number 14 went from Newport to Sandown. It’s lovely to see it looking so smart and green.

  2. Width of a Post says:

    I share your love of the Bristol/ECW L5G model. I was a driver with Crosville from 1977 to 1986, sadly too late to drive L-types. I have recently joined the group of volunteers who work on the “Wensleydale Vintage Bus” service, which runs on Tuesdays from Ripon to Hawes, using two 1949 L5G’s. I have only done two conducting turns up to now, but these vehicles are really superb, and attract attention throughout the journey, with people in the villages gazing in amazement and taking photos with their mobile phones! The passengers all enjoy the experience, and after 38 years on the buses it is great to have such a pleasurable and rewarding involvement in my retirement.

    • busmanjohn says:

      Thanks for leaving a comment and I’m pleased to hear that another 2 Bristol Ls are in action, doing what buses do best. I will be on a private hire job with one of our Crosville Ls this coming Saturday.

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