Busman John’s Virtual Bus Rally

Of the many casualties of the Covid-19 lockdown in 2020, the one that I have missed most this year is the opportunity to drive at various bus rallies and running days. Some organisations have run a virtual event instead, so here’s mine!

There are many buses I have driven or have seen that I would like to invite to my Virtual Bus Rally but I’ve narrowed it down to this selection. The captions describe my reasons for inviting them to my event.

Weston-super-Mare Vintage Bus Running Day

EDIT: This page refers to the 2012 event. See this page for news of the Crosville Bus Rally 2013 or, better still, visit the rally page on the Crosville website.

The folks at Crosville Motor Services, for whom I drive quite frequently, are putting together ambitious plans for a Running Day on Sunday August 26th. It will involve putting out every roadworthy bus in their garage, if they can find enough crews of course!

That will, of course, include more than Lodekkas. Although they have been the staple diet of this blog, I’m pleased to say that other examples of the Bristol marque will be present, including  K, L, MW, VR and LH. Non-Bristol vehicles may even turn up as visitors to redress the Bristol-heavy bias!

The day will also include a celebration of 25 years since the local Badgerline company was established.

If all goes to plan, Crosville’s timetabled services 100, 145 and 152 will all be operated by heritage buses and a shuttle service, linking the depot to various parts of the town, will be operated by up to 6 Bristol Ks. Most of these will be supplied by the Bristol Omnibus Vehicle Collection, which shares garage space with Crosville’s own heritage fleet.

There will be static displays, a road-making demonstration and society stalls at the depot, admission to which will be by the purchase of a programme. This also allows you unlimited travel on any of the timetabled services running on the day. Also on display will be some of the modern bus and coach fleet, together with some interesting Crosville restoration projects including an AEC Matador recovery vehicle.

I’ve had great fun designing an advert for the event, which you can also download as a PDF, if you feel like printing one out. I’m sure they’d welcome any help with spreading the word!

Crosville Running Day A4 poster

If any of you are qualified PCV drivers with crash gearbox experience or have done conducting and would like to help, please call the Crosville office on 01934 635259. I’ve got my name down for this event (how could I miss it?) and I’m secretly hoping to have a go in one of the Bristol Ks. The only down side is that it’s on a Sunday, when I’m usually to be found in church, but I’m making a special exception this time!

In other news, I’m off up to Cheltenham tomorrow. No, not the races! I’m out with the Hants & Dorset Bristol FLF again, providing transport for a wedding. The forecast is appalling though, so spare a thought for yours truly as I battle through wind and weather.

A two-bus-trip to Bristol Cathedral

Last Saturday dawned bright and warm, to the delight of the bride’s family at today’s wedding no doubt. A very fashionable affair, with the wedding taking place in Bristol Cathedral and the reception at Bristol’s Mansion House. This job required two buses.

I was allocated the Bristol FLF, seen in the background above, which was waiting for me outside the Crosville Motor Services garage when I arrived. The FLF is an ex-Hants & Dorset bus, delivered in 1965. The Bristol L in the foreground is the one I took out last weekend to Shepton Mallet. The FLF was showing ‘Southampton’ on the destination blind but I wanted it to show ‘Private’ or something similar so I started winding. Various destinations in Hampshire and Dorset passed by but, as my arm was getting tired, I left it on ‘Ringwood’.

The FLF has had a new clutch fitted since my last trip with it. That was when I nearly didn’t make it back to the garage as the clutch friction disc had virtually disintegrated. I was looking forward to finding out how it behaved. So, having checked lights, oil and water and that it was equipped with the requisite number of wheels, I climbed into the cab and set off behind the Crosville Bristol L. The FLF was a delight to drive and gearchanges were refreshingly easy after the trauma of my last two driving jobs!

We took the direct, cross-country route to Bristol along the A370 through Congresbury. Arriving with plenty of time to spare, we parked the buses in the turning circle outside the Cathedral and then retreated to the shade of the Central Library.

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Wilts & Dorset photo archive, part 2

Here are some more images from my collection of historic Wilts & Dorset photographs.

This is a 1946 Bristol K5G, of which there were many in the Wilts & Dorset fleet in the 40s, 50s and 60s. Note the early design of ventilator on the side windows. Eastern Coach Works was soon to change this to the more familiar all-aluminium design as seen below. Also caught in the shot is the rear end of a Vauxhall Wyvern (or Velox), one of those sit-up-and-beg cars from the 1950s that resembled the American design style of the time. My grandfather had one.

Shown here is a 1947 Bristol K5G, seen either when brand new or fresh from a re-paint.

At the other end of its life, I photographed Bristol KSW6G in the yard at Salisbury’s Castle Street depot in 1973, shortly before withdrawal. I suspect it was having battery troubles, hence the starting handle being inserted through the radiator. However, I wouldn’t fancy being the chap with the job of swinging the heavy Gardner lump with a handle! I remember seeing these old Bristol Ks on country services, en-route to such far-flung places as Hindon. As seen above, they were also put out on Private Hire runs. I clearly recall being taken to Sunday School on one of these, which was hired by the Elim Pentecostal church in Salisbury town centre. I enjoyed the lengthy ride all round the city, gathering up children from the suburbs.

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Wedding Fair with a Crosville Bristol L5G

Last weekend was unusual for several reasons. Firstly, I spent a day in uniform but didn’t do any conducting or driving. Secondly, I wrote off a car in an accident but more of that later. I was invited to help promote the reborn Crosville Motor Services at a Wedding Fair in Bristol.

Accompanied by the proud owner of this fine vehicle and a member of his family, I travelled up to Clifton College, Bristol where the Wedding Fair was to take place. The weather was perfect and the autumn colours were vibrant as we made our stately progress along the A370 from Weston-super-Mare. It was almost a convoy of vintage buses that morning because another three Bristols had left the garage just ahead of us, a Bristol KSW6B, a Bristol LD6G and an ex-New Zealand Bristol RE. They were all heading for a rally in Brislington, their birthplace.

We had a small stand in the exhibition, which was organised by the South West Wedding Guild. The beautiful banquet hall, with its high vaulted ceiling, was the location for the Fair which provided a showcase for everything you could possibly need for a wedding. As long as you had plenty of the folding stuff, of course.

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