With 2015 safely under way, I am now looking forward to more adventures with classic buses so I thought I’d share with you some of my hopes and dreams. Some are almost certain to happen, others may just be pipe dreams!
I will be continuing my work with Crosville Motor Services, a fairly new company which has successfully revived the old Crosville name and seems to have a very bright future. It has an enviable collection of heritage buses of mostly Bristol manufacture and I have driven many of them since joining them as a part time driver in 2012. My private hire duties for Crosville will continue in 2015, mostly weddings. The first of these isn’t until March but, as the year progresses, I hope to drive some new additions to the heritage fleet. If you’re a regular blog follower (and, if you’re a new one, welcome aboard!) you will have read that I took two buses north for refurbishment a few weeks ago. I may be offered the chance to bring them back when they’re finished but, more excitingly, they are being added to the active fleet for this year.
Ex-Hants & Dorset 1187, a 1949 Bristol K6A (HLJ44), was one of a number from various Tilling fleets across the country to be loaned to London Transport to cover a shortage of new buses for London in the postwar period. 1187 bore the fleet number TD895 when with London Transport and it will continue to run in this guise with Crosville this year. I’m very much looking forward to driving this bus on private hire duties.
Remarkably, another bus which would have been running in London at the same time as TD895 is RTW29 (KGK529). Like TD895, it was built in 1949 and joined the Crosville fleet a couple of years ago. Its only appearances so far have been at running days and rallies, including Crosville’s own event last July. However, it has now been given a Class 6 MoT, which will permit it to be used to carry paying passengers again. There are plans to use this immaculate bus for private hire jobs this year and there have been murmurings that I may be permitted to drive it.
As soon as TD895 is finished work will begin on the full restoration of Crosville MW435, a 1952 Bristol KSW6B. It’s one of three Crosville Ks that are known to survive. The Bristol AWV 6-cylinder engine is to arrive back at the Crosville depot soon after an extensive and costly rebuild. It too will join the active private hire fleet but whether that will occur in 2015 is anyone’s guess! Whether this year or next, this is another historic vehicle that I’m looking forward to driving.
Traditionally the tourist season in Torbay starts at Easter and this is when the open top Leyland PD2/3 operated by English Riviera Sightseeing Tours will re-appear. It’s currently in store and we’ve been trying to sort out an issue with the cab control box in readiness for the new season. All being well, I will again be one of its regular drivers throughout the 2015 season.
Regular readers will know that I’m a member of the Westcountry Historic Omnibus & Transport Trust (WHOTT) and one of my highlights from 2014 was to drive their recently restored 1929 Exeter Corporation Maudslay (FJ6154). Although I took it on a tentative run on public roads last September, it has not yet appeared on the streets of Exeter, where it was originally in service on city routes. Although I have no firm dates yet, I hope to be behind the wheel of this very historic bus again in 2015 and it would be great if one of its jaunts took it back to Exeter’s city streets.
Another veteran omnibus which returned to operational condition recently is the 1927 GWR Guy FBB bus (YF714) which is cared for by the Thames Valley & Great Western Omnibus Trust. Top of my wishlist for 2015, but firmly in the ‘pipedream’ category, is to have the opportunity to drive this superb vehicle as well as the Exeter Maudslay. Well, a chap can dream, can’t he?!
I try to attend a handful of rallies or running days during the year. These are sometimes difficult to fit in due to the fact that most occur on Sundays when I am usually in church. Already pencilled in this year is the Crosville rally, which may take the form of a running day based at the seafront this time. Similar to the 2014 event but not including the depot. My friends at WHOTT are also planning an event, the date and venue of which hasn’t yet been fixed. It too is likely to be a running day, rather than a static rally.
I’ve also been invited to attend a running day in Salisbury to commemorate the centenary of the formation of Wilts & Dorset in 1915. Sunday June 14th is the confirmed date and W&D 100 will attract many people with connections to the company. As many W&D-related vehicles as possible have already been pencilled in. If the aforementioned Hants & Dorset Bristol K6A is ready in time, I will be taking that along.
I’m not sure if there’s room in my diary for any more bus-related activity but that gives you a flavour of what driving adventures may come my way this year. You can be sure that you’ll be able to read all about them right here soon after they happen. Don’t go away!