1940s Festival on the South Devon Railway

Back in early July I took a Bristol L5G down to Buckfastleigh to take part in the South Devon Railway’s popular 1940s Festival.

The single deck bus was very familiar to me, having been a regular allocation during my time with Crosville Motor Services in Weston-super-Mare. Ex-Crosville KG131 (1950-built KFM893) still lives in Weston and is now part of the re-launched Crosville Vintage operation so my first task was to drive it down from Weston to Buckfastleigh, a distance of about 80 miles.

The Bristol L trundles along at about 42 mph on the motorway so it took about an hour and a half to complete the journey. On the way I had to face the stiff climb up Haldon Hill which, even with an empty bus, reduced my speed to about 15 mph. It’s at times like these that I feel quite vulnerable on dual carriageways and motorways due to my slow speed, relative to other traffic so I was relieved to turn off the A38 for the final few yards to the station forecourt at the South Devon Railway‘s station at Buckfastleigh.

My first departure wasn’t until 11:00 so I had time for a 45 minute break before starting service. I used that time to wander around the station and found myself in a time warp. I was surrounded by people in 1940s outfits as well as the uniformed railway staff. Visitors and re-enactors alike had gone to extraordinary lengths to enter in to the spirit of the event.

In a field adjacent to the station forecourt there was an impressive gathering of military vehicles and paraphenalia. I lost count of the number of wartime Willys Jeeps! On the station platform I passed a policeman in authentic 1940s uniform. In fact I saw him several times during the day, which turned out to be very hot and humid. To his credit (and probably his discomfort too), he kept his full uniform on all day!

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Torbay Classic Bus Rally 2001

A few weeks ago Torbay was once again treated to the sights and sounds of heritage buses as they provided free trips around the area as part of the Torbay Vintage Bus Running Day. Sadly I was not able to go along this year but the photographs shown here are from a previous event, held in the attractive surroundings of Oldway Mansion, Paignton in 2001.

For several years the rally was organised at this location by the Devon General Society and it brought together an impressive number of local buses. Devon General, Grey Cars, Exeter Corporation and Western National were all represented. I wasn’t actively involved in the world of heritage buses at that time but just went along with my family. I couldn’t miss the opportunity, as it was right on my doorstep! Seen on the far left of the picture is 932GTA, one of the famous Devon General ‘Sea Dogs’. This Leyland Atlantean is now owned by Bob Follwell and visited Torbay in early May this year along with 3 others for a special running day.

FTT704 was one of several buses offering free rides. I can’t remember if we rode on it or not but we probably did, owing to my fondness for the products of a certain factory in Brislington! This is a Bristol K6A, the ‘A’ unusually denoting that it was fitted with (and presumably still runs with) an AEC engine as opposed to the more usual 5 or 6 cylinder Gardner unit. It is currently in the care of the Bristol Vintage Bus Group and regularly attends rallies and running days in the Westcountry.

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