The writing was on the wall for a long time but Saturday April 21st marked the end of another chapter in the long-running Crosville Motor Services story. Although this is now old news, it deserves an airing here because of my involvement with the latter-day company.
To recap, a combination of falling revenue and some difficulties with the Traffic Commissioner made it inevitable that the company would have to cease trading.
The management of the Weston-super-Mare company decided to go out with a flourish, so organised a running day on the last day of operation. Based at the Beach Lawns on Weston’s seafront, heritage vehicles were either lined up on display or used in service on the 100 route to Sand Bay. With Crosville’s Sentinel steam bus ‘Elizabeth’ joining in the action as well, that meant that the road to Sand Bay got very busy at times! (Photo copyright Paul Jones, used with permission).
Sadly I was committed elsewhere on that day so missed most of the action but did have a couple of hours to spare in the morning so I was able to help ferry some of the heritage buses out to the seafront site, including recently restored Bristol K6A HLJ44 and Bristol FS6G YDL318.
Then it was time to put all the toys away in the box and go home. With local bus routes and private hire bookings unable to run due to the lack of an Operators Licence, the next few weeks were rather sad as the once-busy depot was gradually cleared out. Most of the service buses and coaches were sold off, either for further use or for scrap. I drove two ex-school contract vehicles, Leyland Tiger CRZ9853 and a yellow Dennis Javelin coach (whose number I have already forgotten), up to a coach trimmer near Banbury. In a final twist, each had only been bought for its seats. With most of the ‘modern’ vehicles sold, the vast hangar which served as the Crosville depot looked forlorn.
There was a plan to continue running the heritage fleet, which had a healthy order book for 2018, under the auspices of Southern National (another JJP Holdings company) but this failed to materialise due to licencing issues. All bookings were cancelled and refunded. This had a direct impact on me because I had been, up to this point, managing the bookings and crew rosters for the heritage fleet.
The only part of the company that remained unaffected by the closure was the seafront Land Train so I was planning to survive the summer months on heritage work and driving the Land Train but, without the hoped-for heritage work, my position was unsustainable. There was an abortive attempt to train me as a Driver Trainer for Somerset Passenger Solutions, which provides the construction workers’ transport for Somerset’s Hinkley Point C power station. But neither the job nor the salary were suitable so I looked around for other work.
Part of the fall-out of the Crosville closure was that my nephew had booked a heritage bus for his wedding at the end of May and it had been cancelled. After discussions, the owner of the company kindly let me have a bus for the day, free of charge. So Busman John and his trusty conductor Peter swung into action again for a family occasion! Even Mrs Busman John was roped in on the day before the wedding. I parked the bus, BOC LC8515 (LD6B 972EHW), outside my house so that we could decorate the inside with ribbons and bows. Well, if other people can bring their work home with them, why can’t I?!
So, after a promising start, Crosville and I have parted company. Looking back, you could say that moving up to Weston-super-Mare last August was a mistake but I think otherwise. As a family we are Christian believers and we felt strongly led to this place and believed that it must be for a good reason. This has proved to be the case, for family reasons and for others which I may refer to later. Life’s certainly an adventure, whatever/whoever you believe in!