Quite a lot of vintage duties have gone unreported by ‘Busman’s Holiday’ due to my house move and subsequent full time work for Crosville Motor Services. So here, dear reader, is a pictorial roundup of some of the action.
This delightful scene presented itself to me while awaiting the arrival of the steam-hauled train from Minehead, West Somerset Railway. I had arrived early at Bishops Lydeard station to convey passengers to Hestercombe House and the previous departure, a 1960s 3-car diesel multiple unit, was still in the platform. Parked nearby was a pale blue MG from the same era so I couldn’t resist taking a photo!
Occasionally we are asked to decorate our heritage buses for their wedding duties. This is something I always enjoy doing because I think the ribbons add a very appropriate flourish to the occasion. The day these two were photographed turned grey and drizzly so, by the time they arrived back at the depot, the ribbons were looking rather bedraggled!
Sometimes the customers arrange with me to come to the depot to decorate the bus themselves. Some really go to town and bring banners and balloons as well.
There are of course occasions when we get the buses wet intentionally. Before every outing we check that they are clean and here James, a young cleaner and occasional conductor, gets busy with our 1950 Bristol L. As we were preparing the interior of this bus we had to get rid of a poor dead mouse. The driver on its previous duty had apparently been sitting in the saloon munching on his lunchtime sandwiches when he gazed up at the ceiling and discovered a dead mouse behind one of the roof vent grilles. When James and I unscrewed the grille and retrieved said animal we found that it was completely flat, almost a fossil. It must have been there for years!
I took a wedding party to one of my most unusual destinations recently – the SS Great Britain! It was also a great pleasure to be in the driver’s seat of ex-Crosville Bristol L5G KG131 (KFM893) again, which still looks stunning after its recent re-restoration last year.
I enjoy driving this 1950 Bristol L because, not only is it immaculate to look at, it is mechanically very sound and predictable. Compared with the 1947 Leyland PS1 I’ve been driving in Torbay recently the steering is amazingly light, despite both buses being of similar design and from the same era. If there is any trouble, it’s usually down to me. Ever since I first drove this bus a couple of years ago I’ve often come to grief changing down from 3rd to 2nd gear. The ‘box is very different to that on a Lodekka and, if you don’t get the revs just right or lift the clutch fully, it lets you know in no uncertain terms. Usually audible ones. True to form, I had one or two ‘moments’ during this trip.
I had a rather delayed start as once again I had trouble with lights. This time the brake lights wouldn’t come on but I had a pair of expert mechanics on hand to suss out the trouble which turned out to be a poorly adjusted switch beneath the brake pedal. They soon had it fixed and I reached my destination only a little later than I’d planned. The pickup point was at the luxurious Bristol Marriott Royal Hotel on College Green. I reversed into a space near the main entrance but, in view of the cobbled street and profusion of high heels, was asked to pull up to the pavement right outside.
It was a relatively short drive from the hotel to the SS Great Britain but even so, I took great pleasure in driving through the busy city centre. Many heads turned our way as the 64 year old veteran made stately progress among the 21st century traffic. I did my best not to crunch any gears and delivered the guests as close as I could to the entrance to the ship. Quite by chance a big red Bristol Sightseeing Bus pulled in behind me, driven by none other than Terry Jones, a previous owner of the Bedford OB I mentioned in my last post.