Moving day for ex-Crosville heritage fleet

After the closure of Crosville Motor Services in Weston-super-Mare it was decided to vacate the large hangar where the vehicles had been based. I was invited to help move the single deck members of the fleet, which are still owned outright by the business owner, to a new location in another part of the town.

Earlier in the day a team of volunteers had been beavering away with soapy water and a jet wash, removing dust and debris which had settled on the cherished vehicles over several months of inactivity. I had earlier arranged for Mrs Busman John to be ‘steerswoman’ (is that a word?) on 1912 MacLaren steam road locomotive ‘Gigantic’, which was also to make the same journey across town as the buses. So, while the buses were being prepared, I rode with her and shot this video:

 

Needless to say, she was ‘chuffed’ to bits as it had been a long-held ambition of hers to drive a traction engine! Many thanks to JJP and his steam team for making this happen.

Soon all was ready for the first of two short convoys. Each was led by a steam vehicle, the first being 1931 Sentinel DG6P steam bus ‘Elizabeth’. I was invited to drive FAE60, a 1938 Bristol L5G which had long ago been converted into a tower wagon as departmental vehicle W75 for maintaining the high level structures in Bristol Tramways (later Bristol Omnibus Company) depots. The chassis, apart from having been shortened, was unchanged so it drove just like a normal Bristol L bus. It was lovely to drive, with a very easy gear change. Crash box, of course!

The convoy is pictured from the back window of ‘Elizabeth’ leaving the old depot for the last time. The journey was short, only 15 minutes or so. There was of course much tooting from the front, as the Sentinel announced our presence.

There followed a certain amount of shunting and jostling, as the vehicles were carefully parked in their new home. Some adjustment to a roller shutter door had to be made to allow the tower wagon to pass through but otherwise there were no major surprises and we were soon transported back to the depot for Round Two. The second convoy was led by the MacLaren ‘Gigantic’ and its matching WW1 grey living van. I was tasked with bringing Bristol Tramways C2736 (LHY976), a very tired Bristol L5G which had been bought some time ago and is in need of a complete re-restoration. It’s very appropriate to the area, having been based at Weston during its operational career, so it is a worthy member of the fleet. It is seen briefly in the video above, lurking behind the smarter buses! As you might guess, the driving experience was not as pleasurable as the tower wagon so I look forward to the day when it has been rejuvenated.

The double deck vehicles in the fleet, including the open toppers, had already been moved to a ‘halfway house’ location while a suitable building is put up to accomodate them.

Although I’ve moved on to pastures new, I was grateful to have been asked to help with this move. This all occurred in early September and I haven’t been near a heritage vehicle since then, so I’m getting withdrawal symptoms!

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6 comments on “Moving day for ex-Crosville heritage fleet

  1. Helen says:

    Lucky Mrs Busman John! I drove one belonging to a boyfriend in the 60s, great experience.

  2. Gina says:

    Hiya — I’m researching Elizabeth the steam bus for my newsletter and wonder if you have any up-to-date information (if at all possible, as of May 2019) on her whereabouts and activities. I haven’t been able to find anything more recent than your post. Thanks very much in advance for any hep you can give me! πŸ™‚

  3. Gina says:

    LOL — sorry… that was meant to say “any help you can give me!” I got typing too fast. πŸ™‚

    • busmanjohn says:

      Hello Gina, nothing has changed since the move from the old Crosville depot. ‘Elizabeth’ remains in private hands and, as the owner no longer has an operators licence, it will not be able to carry fare-paying passengers. It may be used for private outings or steam-related events like the Great Dorset Steam Fair. Hope this helps.

      • Gina says:

        Thanks so much for your kind reply! I appreciate you taking the time to answer my question. It’s quite sad, I think… I’d have loved the chance to ride in Elizabeth. Again, thank you.

  4. Gina says:

    Hi, again… I came across this video from British PathΓ© during my research and I thought you might like it. There are links to other bus videos on the page as well. (My apologies if these videos are “old news” to you.) πŸ™‚ https://www.britishpathe.com/video/clippies-aka-women-bus-conductors

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