…but where is it now?
Many of the classic buses and coaches which we enjoy today owe their survival to non-PSV use after withdrawal. One such bus is a Bristol FLF which has featured heavily on these pages in the past.
The photo above shows Hants & Dorset’s 1220 (FLF6G DEL893C) in gleaming H&D livery a couple of years ago but long before that it entered service, still wearing faded Poppy Red, with Double Two Shirts in about 1981. This large Wakefield-based manufacturer used to run quite an extensive fleet of ex-service vehicles, mostly Bristol FLFs and VRTs, to convey staff to and from the factory. I recently came across a YouTube clip of some of these vehicles in action:
After passing through the hands of several owners, including Quantock Motor Services (left, seen entering Porlock), it reached Weston-super-Mare in the ownership of the fledgling Crosville Motor Services. It became a mainstay of the heritage hire fleet and was the first bus I drove in service after passing my PCV test in 2012.
Now however, it has moved on to pastures new. It was sold last autumn to an individual in the north of England. I’ve been told that it may be used as a promotional vehicle by a business but I have no other information at the moment. Please leave a comment if you know more!
In some ways I was sad to see it go because, apart from one outing plagued with clutch failure, 1220 served me well. A particular delight was the overdrive gearbox and high speed diff which gave a top speed of just over 50mph! Very useful on long, empty journeys.
In other ways, I wasn’t so bothered. It may sound bizarre when the FLF is now such a classic marque, but I wasn’t a big fan of the final development of the long Bristol Lodekka line. In my childhood I was used to the earlier LD models and completely fell in love with them. I remember the FLFs entering the Wilts & Dorset fleet when new and took a dim view of them straight away. Their 70 seats may have been useful to operators with heavily used routes but, to me at least, the longer length and more upright profile destroyed the classic Lodekka shape. And they’d moved the doors to the front – it wasn’t a proper bus anymore! Decades later I would have been glad of those doors when conducting on Christmas Park and Ride services in freezing weather!
2015 at Crosville should be very interesting, with a completely refurbished K6A, FS6G and RELL6G to play with!
In other news, I’ve heard that Quantock’s iconic pair of Bristol LDLs, having spent many years toiling around the lanes of Exmoor, are finally being pensioned off. Apparently one has already made the journey to join a well known collection of Bristol vehicles. The other is due to follow after use in Somerset during the summer season.