An old friend re-visited in Venice

During a recent holiday in Venice I saw a bus I thought I recognised.

572CNW-on-Lido-Venice

Mrs Busman John and I were travelling in a hotel shuttle minibus on the island of Lido Di Venezia (near Venice) when we saw a distinctly British-looking bus. As we drew closer I thought I recognised the livery – a psuedo Huddersfield Corporation scheme applied to an ex-Leeds Corporation Daimler CVG6 bus. Confirmation came as soon as I could read the registration number 572CNW.

Later the same day we found the bus again, this time on foot so that we could have a closer look and take some photos. The bus was exported to Italy in 2011 after it was sold by Quantock Motor Services, for whom I worked as a conductor for a time.

572CNW-on-Lido-Venice-(rear)

I conducted on this bus a few times at running days and on private hire jobs so I was rather gobsmacked to see it again! It is a permanent fixture beside a road on Lido, converted for use as a snack bar. The interior has been ripped out and the roof cut off, being replaced with a ‘lid’ which can be raised up on poles as seen here.

572CNW-on-Lido-Venice-(driver)

It still wears the livery applied by QMS and, if you peer into the cab, you can see the ghost of a former owner still at the wheel!

I couldn’t help feeling sorry for the poor old girl, especially as she was in operational condition with a Class 6 MOT when sold. If you want to hear about the epic delivery journey from the UK, speak to Martyn Hearson of Reliance Bus Works!

There are other buses in the area of course and we made good use of them during our stay. However, they didn’t have much to interest me. They were all the same – modern orange Breda single decks with only 20 seats. The rest of the space was devoted to standees, of which there were often many.

Venice-Breda-bus-PellestrinaOn one long journey we were surprised to find the bus driving onto a car ferry to cross a busy shipping channel. In fact, almost as soon as we had left the dockside we passed astern of a large container ship which happened to be passing by.

Venice-Breda-bus-on-car-ferryWhich leads me neatly to the other form of transport for which Venice is famous. No, not gondolas, the water bus or Vaporetto (‘little steamer’). Because Venice is a man-made structure, most of the streets are canals. I was amazed to read that all the buildings are supported on large oak pilings which were sunk into the mud of the Venezia lagoon hundreds of years ago. There is no land there at all.

If you want to get anywhere, most people use the vaporetto service which operates just like a city bus service with a frequent service on many routes.

Venice-vaporetto-approaching-stopThere are plenty of traditional gondolas as well, but it costs about £75 for a ride! Private water taxis are available too, the water-borne equivalent of a black cab.

The photo below shows the busy scene at the tourist hotspot of the Doge’s Palace and St Mark’s Square. Vaporetti, gondolas, water taxis and tour boats all going about their business makes the scene a busy one. Add in a few slow-moving commercial freight boats (the equivalent of a DHL delivery van) and you have a very chaotic waterway. Despite all this activity, we didn’t once see an accident. Not even a near miss. I must say that the level of seamanship was high and the crews of the vaporetti have a very slick system of calling briefly at the ‘bus stops’.

Venice-vaporetto-San-ZacarriaIf there is one disadvantage of being a tourist on the vaporetti for several days, it’s having ‘sea legs’. I don’t suffer from travel sickness but, when on dry land I still felt the ground beneath my feet swaying hours after being on a boat!

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7 comments on “An old friend re-visited in Venice

  1. John, Hope you enjoyed your holiday! This reminds me of ex Bristol Omnibus FLF 842 SHW which is used as a static cafeteria not far from us at Chain Bridge Honey Farm near Berwick-on-Tweed. Now restored in proper Tilling green, it has been tastefully appointed upstairs as a comfortable coffee shop! (Mind you, I’d really prefer to see it restored as a bus, but hey ho!…).Not quite as exotic as Venice, though……!☺

  2. Alan Bond says:

    What a waste of a decent bus – It could have been restored to its original Leeds green livery. A much better candidate for this treatment would have been one of barmy Boris’s new (ha-ha) routemasters ‘cos that’s about all they’re fit for

    • busmanjohn says:

      We have to admit that an owner is entitled to sell his bus to whomever he chooses. This particular seller, well known to you I’m sure, had his commercial hat firmly in place. The new owner is equally entitled to use it (in this case as part of a catering business) any way they like. While it was sad to see this bus go overseas, I for one am grateful that there are so many other survivors in the UK, still active and carrying passengers, from many different regions and eras.

  3. Its a difficult one. At least the vehicle exists, which is more than can be said for the majority of examples! I say enjoy these converted pieces of history while we can!

  4. Paul Quest says:

    In the mid seventies I took 34 pupils on a month tour of Europe visiting Venice on the way down to Greece. I used Bakers Dolphin coaches. At the same time a company called Top Deck was using double decker buses for similar tours. My mind boggles at the risks we took including taking a Bristol over the Gross glockner pass which is the last man made pass over the alps with no viaducts and tunnels. At time we have to reverse around sharp corners and on one particularly steep part the students had to get out and push as we crawled up in the hill. I still see some of them today and they all remember it. We actually did four of them, one every two years but we never went over that pass again.

    • busmanjohn says:

      Thanks for your fascinating story, Paul. The escapades of the Top Deck Travel Lodekkas are legendary and could not have been achieved without the bravery and resourcefulness of the drivers nor the ruggedness of the old Bristols! Even as recently as 2014 one of them (Tadpoles, I think) made a marathon return journey to Kathmandu.

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