The coach trip that never was

Bedford OB coach LBP500

Many years ago, while working in Exeter, I got into conversation with the owner of this beautiful 1949 Duple-bodied Bedford OB coach. My office window overlooked Exeter Bus Station and just along the road were a few stands where various operators would pick up private hire passengers. I saw this delightful vehicle several times and was determined to find out more about it.

Eventually I had the opportunity one lunchtime and spoke to the driver, who turned out to be the owner. Richard Holladay had recently restored this coach to a very high standard and had added it to his Red Bus Services fleet. Not to be confused with an operator with the same name which ran services in North Devon in the 80s and 90s. I remember an ex-Devon General Albion Nimbus being in his fleet. It is now preserved and appeared at the Bristol Harbourside Rally this year. Anyway, I digress.

Richard was trying to drum up business for his newly-restored OB and, noting my interest and hearing that I worked in advertising, asked if I could think of any suitable destinations for a tour. I suggested the Great Dorset Steam Fair and Richard agreed that it would make a good day out. I offered to design a small advertisement to appear in the Express & Echo newspaper (for whom I was working at the time) and Richard duly entered LBP500 into the Fair.

Sadly the trip never happened. I can’t remember why, possibly insufficient numbers or maybe mechanical issues prevented the OB from travelling to Dorset. I didn’t see LBP500 very often after that and eventually Richard sold it to Robert Risk of Plymouth.

Incidentally it was Richard Holladay’s family that ran the well known Exeter foundry Garton & King Ltd, whose name still appears on many a manhole cover in Devon!

I’m sure that LBP500 is still around – anyone know where it is now?

Photograph © R. Holladay. Used with permission.

Leyland PD2 and Bristol Lodekka at GDSF

It’s time for another delve in the archives. I took this photograph at the Great Dorset Steam Fair, a mind-blowing feast of transport nostalgia. Among the many static displays in 1989 was this pair of buses, each one being particularly significant to me. So it was quite a coincidence to find them parked next to each other!

VFJ 995 is a 1958 Leyland Titan PD2/40 with MCW bodywork. It was one of a batch of 5 purchased by Exeter Corporation, mostly for city work although, in my childhood, I did see them occasionally on the Exmouth – Exeter service. They would also turn up on schools service outside the comprehensive in Exmouth in the early 1970s.

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