Quite a lot of vintage duties have gone unreported by ‘Busman’s Holiday’ due to my house move and subsequent full time work for Crosville Motor Services. So here, dear reader, is a pictorial roundup of some of the action.
This delightful scene presented itself to me while awaiting the arrival of the steam-hauled train from Minehead, West Somerset Railway. I had arrived early at Bishops Lydeard station to convey passengers to Hestercombe House and the previous departure, a 1960s 3-car diesel multiple unit, was still in the platform. Parked nearby was a pale blue MG from the same era so I couldn’t resist taking a photo!
Occasionally we are asked to decorate our heritage buses for their wedding duties. This is something I always enjoy doing because I think the ribbons add a very appropriate flourish to the occasion. The day these two were photographed turned grey and drizzly so, by the time they arrived back at the depot, the ribbons were looking rather bedraggled!
Sometimes the customers arrange with me to come to the depot to decorate the bus themselves. Some really go to town and bring banners and balloons as well.
There are of course occasions when we get the buses wet intentionally. Before every outing we check that they are clean and here James, a young cleaner and occasional conductor, gets busy with our 1950 Bristol L. As we were preparing the interior of this bus we had to get rid of a poor dead mouse. The driver on its previous duty had apparently been sitting in the saloon munching on his lunchtime sandwiches when he gazed up at the ceiling and discovered a dead mouse behind one of the roof vent grilles. When James and I unscrewed the grille and retrieved said animal we found that it was completely flat, almost a fossil. It must have been there for years!
Here’s a rear shot of our freshly repainted Bristol FS6G, Southern Vectis 573 (YDL318). Conductor Kemble and I had the pleasure of taking a wedding party from the Downend area of Bristol to the SS Great Britain and back. This was the only duty we managed in this bus before it was withdrawn for further mechanical work following an engine rebuild.
One of the most pleasant outings came my way in late autumn when Conductor Selby and I took a gentleman and his friends and family for a leisurely jaunt around the Chew Valley. The occasion was his 70th birthday and he had secretly arranged the outing without telling any of his family about the mode of transport. The looks we got as we drew up to a bus stop in Nailsea to collect them made me chuckle!
Neil (the aforementioned gentleman) and I had carefully planned a route that took in some of Somerset’s double-barrelled villages; Flax Bourton, Barrow Gurney and Chew Stoke to mention just three. The photo shows us at our coffee stop at Chew Valley Lake. Our meanderings then took us through Brockley Combe down to Cleeve where lunch was taken at a very nice Italian restaurant. Driver and conductor were invited to partake as well – such a generous man. Thanks Neil!
A chilly evening in November saw me waiting with an open top FSF6G for the Weston-super-Mare Carnival procession to begin. Crosville DFG81 (891VFM) had been decorated earlier in the day by staff from the Weston Playhouse, who had hired the bus to promote the winter panto, ‘Aladdin’. As you can see from the photo, I was joined by Conductor Dawkins (my son Peter) and Inspector Dawkins (Mrs Busman John). She is living proof of the saying ‘if you can’t beat them, join them’! Although it was fascinating to see all the carnival floats (‘carts’, to be accurate) lining up and moving out, we had a rather boring wait to get started. Our position was well down the order and it we didn’t venture out of the coach park until nearly 2 hours later! By then drizzle had set in and the panto cast, who were on the top deck, took it in turns to retreat to the (comparatively) dry lower deck. Conductor and Inspector were busy on the bell too, as Playhouse staff were walking alongside handing out flags and flyers. They also sought refuge from time to time.
Also taking part in the procession was ‘Elizabeth’, Crosville’s 1931 Sentinel Steam Bus plus a low loader from a sister company carrying our 1938 Bristol L Tower Wagon.
Finally, we’ve paid two visits this autumn to Kings Weston House on the west side of Bristol. The duty shown involved our single deck Bristol L5G KFM893 and our ex-Bristol Omnibus Company LD6B, 972EHW. This was taken after all the guests had gone into the house for the reception. We had just brought them from the wedding ceremony across the river in Abbots Leigh. A quick blast (if such a thing is possible in such elderly buses) up the motorway led to a more leisurely trundle through parts of Shirehampton to reach the house. My second visit there followed a wedding in Westbury-on-Trym but this was a solo trip for the Lodekka. Earlier, someone with a camera spotted us on layover at the bus terminus in Southmead.
And that, dear reader, concludes our autumn roundup. There’s sure to be more in store this year. Keep checking! Happy New Year!