Plans are coming together for the Crosville Bus & Steam Rally 2016, at which I plan to be very active! The date is Sunday September 11th.
Back in 2014 there was a rally and running day based at the seafront at Weston-super-Mare but this year’s event is centred on the Helicopter Museum in Locking Moor Road. Since the 2014 rally Crosville has expanded further, adding fresh vehicles to its heritage fleet and many others to its modern fleet of local service buses and coaches.
For this reason Crosville has struck up a partnership with the Helicopter Museum which – like Crosville – is based on what used to be RAF Weston-super-Mare, albeit on opposite sides of the airfield site. It seems quite appropriate to team up with a museum which celebrates another form of transport history. There is ample room for static displays, indoor areas for society and trade stalls as well as the added attraction of the museum itself. I’ve never been there myself and am looking forward to seeing what’s there.
New for this year is the addition of a steam section. It was originally planned to have Crosville’s own Sentinel DG6P Steam Bus ‘Elizabeth’ in action, fresh from restoration. However, as is often the way with these projects, work is behind schedule and the steam bus won’t be ready in time for the Rally. There will still be plenty of steam power present though as several entries have already been received from traction engine and steam roller owners.
A key player in the steam section, from Crosville’s point of view anyway, will be a recently delivered member of the heritage fleet. This is ‘Sonsie Quine’, a 1920 Clayton & Shuttleworth steam road locomotive. She arrived in Weston recently, driven all the way from Scotland on a low loader by Crosville’s MD himself. There is also a rumour (as yet unconfirmed) that a full size GWR steam locomotive will also be present.
I think I am most excited by the prospect of a newly refurbished Hants & Dorset bus being in action. This is TD895 (HLJ44), a 1949 Bristol K6A double deck bus. I drove it up to Yorkshire back in January 2015 and it is now almost ready to be brought back to Somerset after a very lengthy re-restoration. As regular readers will know, I have a soft spot for any bus from the fleets of the former Wilts & Dorset and Hants & Dorset companies. This particular one has a unique claim to fame because it also operated for London Transport! Back in 1949 there was a shortfall in RT deliveries and buses ordered by several other state-owned companies were diverted to plug the gap. HLJ44 is the only survivor from the H&D batch. I hope that I shall be able to drive this bus at some point during the day!
I’m currently helping to prepare the official Bus & Steam Rally programme, which will be on sale at the event. Admission to the site will be by ticket only, on sale in advance from the Helicopter Museum. Full details of the Rally (and shortly, how to buy tickets) can be found on the Crosville website.
If all goes to plan I shall be bringing a vehicle from the WHOTT collection for static display at the Rally. Western National 3307 (AFJ727T) is a Bristol LH6L coach with Plaxton Supreme bodywork.