If you have read one of my blog posts that describes a private hire duty at Crosville and thought to yourself “I could do that”, now’s your chance.
Since taking on the job of allocating drivers for upcoming driving duties I’ve realised that a bigger team of part time drivers is needed so I’m looking for suitable drivers to join the team.
When I say ‘suitable’, I mean that you’ll need to already hold a full Category D (PCV) driving licence and hold a current DCPC card. Although I can offer familiarisation sessions with our buses, you will need to be already competent with a crash gearbox vehicle. Sadly we don’t have the resources to teach double de-clutch technique from scratch.
We’re based in Weston-super-Mare, Somerset so you will need to live within reasonably easy reach of our depot. We don’t send our buses on long distances as this is quite tedious for the drivers and adds to the wear and tear of the vehicles unnecessarily.
As you will know if you’ve read my posts, driving for Crosville is very rewarding. Taking passengers to a wedding or on a special outing is great fun and I get a lot of pleasure in helping them to have a good day.
One of the best bits of course is that you get to drive some wonderful old buses, particularly if you like Bristols. Although they can be challenging at times, the feeling of accomplishment at the end of the day is immense. The standard of our heritage fleet is high and is improving all the time. For example, one of our ‘workhorse’ Lodekkas is away at the moment having a thorough refurbishment. Southern Vectis 573 (Bristol FS6G YDL318) has already had its Gardner engine rebuilt and it will come back into service looking just like new. That includes new window rubbers and period adverts.
So, if you (or someone you know) would like to join the team, please leave a comment and I’ll reply to you privately.
A few days ago I was once again given the honour of driving an ex-Bristol Omnibus Lodekka through the city it served more than 50 years ago.
LC8518 (972EHW) belongs to the Bristol Omnibus Vehicle Collection and is on hire to Crosville Motor Services at the moment. It is in immaculate condition, having completed a thorough restoration about 3 years ago.
After doing my walkaround checks I brought the bus out of the darkness of the garage and into the daylight. My conductor arrived shortly afterwards and, after re-fuelling the bus at the newly-commissioned bowser (hooray, no more trips to Morrisons!) we set off up the A370 for Bristol. By coincidence, the pickup point for this private hire duty was just a stone’s throw from where my parents-in-law live, so I didn’t need to research the route at all! The weather was dull, cold and wet so I wiped the condensation off the cab windows while we waited for the bridal party to board.
The trip to St Aidan’s Church, St George was very light, with only the bride, her parents and bridemaids on board. This leg of the journey was mostly new territory for me so, once again, I had studied Google Maps and carried a bullet point list of directions in the cab just in case. When we arrived, Barry my conductor commented that he was impressed that I appeared to know my way around Bristol better than he did, and he was brought up there! I had to admit my reliance on Google and some previous knowledge due to family connections. I also had to admit that, in the event of a road closure somewhere on my planned route, I would have been a bit stuck! My PCV training taught me to always have a Plan B but I’m afraid I don’t often have one up my sleeve.
I’ve dipped into my Wilts & Dorset photo collection again and have pulled out one or two unusual vehicles.
Like many other operators at the time, Wilts & Dorset acquired ex-military recovery vehicles to rescue broken down or accident-damaged members of the fleet. This one is an AEC Matador recovering what could be a Bristol LS saloon from Romsey town centre. Like most of the ex-military recovery vehicles in bus fleets, this one has been re-bodied, probably in the company’s own workshops, to re-fit it for it’s new task.
Before the standardisation of the nationalised Wilts & Dorset fleet, a wide variety of vehicles were operated. Some, like this AEC Regent II, were absorbed from Venture. Before that, it ran in the Cheltenham & District fleet and before that, Newbury & District.
So another year ends. Where does the time go to? It seems an appropriate time to reflect on 2011, a relatively dry year for me in terms of bus activity.
With just one wedding duty for Quantock Motor Services and only four ‘Exmoor Explorer’ duties in the shortened summer season, this has been a year of few opportunities to see any action in my favourite pastime. You will have read of the probable demise of the Service 400 route around Exmoor in some of my earlier posts. I still don’t know what will happen next year with QMS, if anything.
I didn’t even get involved with the Exeter Nocturnal Running Event this year. I conducted on an ex-City of Exeter Guy Arab IV for the 2010 event, which was held on a bitterly cold November evening. This year’s event seems to have been successful again so maybe I’ll offer my services for 2012. Dan Shears, are you listening?!
I almost got as far as taking my PCV test but backed out on the day before the test due to a change of location (Plymouth). I’m planning to enrol on a course in Exeter in February.
A few months ago I inherited a photograph collection devoted to the buses and coaches of Wilts & Dorset Motor Services Ltd, whose head office and centre of operations was in Salisbury. The photographs have been collected by my father, who grew up in Salisbury and followed the development of the company and its vehicles until the early 1960s.
Here is one of the early photographs, showing a 1929 Leyland TS single decker wearing the pre-1948 livery and fleetname. The collection is spread over three volumes and contains several hundred photographs. I haven’t counted them all yet! Most are postcard-sized black and white prints, published for collectors and enthusiasts by distributors such as Haynes, Simpson and Pennels. A few of my father’s own shots are included too.
Prior to the standardisation of the state-owned Wilts & Dorset, when ECW body on Bristol chassis became the norm, W&D ran buses and coaches from all the major manufacturers such as Leyland, AEC and Daimler. Shown above is a 1931 Leyland TD1 passing the Style & Gerrish department store in Salisbury. Fleet number 97 has a Leyland body and wears the pre-war livery of red and grey.
One of the last photographs in the collection is of this 1967 Leyland Leopard PSUR1/1R, acquired in 1971/2 from Maidstone & District.
I photographed the fleetname on this bus after it had been withdrawn in 1973 and was languishing in the dump at the back of the bus station in Castle Street, Salisbury.
This reflected my interest, not only in the buses of Wilts & Dorset but also in letterforms because I began training for a career in graphic design in the same year.
These are just a few examples of the many photographs in this wonderful collection. Maybe I’ll share a few more of them later!