Bus Rallies and Shows
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Last updated 28 June 2013
This page lists personal views of local bus rallies and transport shows at which buses were present. Some are large, some are small, but all reports are biased. I have also put together a diary of rallies, events, open days and running days where buses may be featured, and it can be found on the Events Diary page.
This colour scheme is a tribute to United Counties.
SOUTH COAST EXPRESS - 22 June 2013
The South Coast Express was a coach service from Bournemouth to Margate, started in 1929 jointly by Southdown, Hants & Dorset, and East Kent (and later incorporating Royal Blue) and which continued in various forms up to the 1980s. Each year the Thames Valley & Great Western Omnibus Trust organises a road run for coaches - usually with a Royal Blue / Associated Motorways connection - but for 2013 it was decided to re-create the South Coast Express. Your Classic Buses Website roving reporter went to check out part of the East Sussex leg of the journey.
We join the procession as it climbs the A259 coast road steeply out of Eastbourne up onto the south downs above Beachy Head and the cliffs of the 'Seven Sisters'. This represents a fearsome ascent of some 500 feet in little more than a mile. First to reach the top was Jonathan Radley's Red & White Bristol RELH RC968 (OAX 9F) dating from 1968. The convoy was scheduled to pass through Eastbourne at 1335 and Jonathan was right on schedule.
A moment or so later another Bristol RELH reached the summit. This was Mel Williams' Royal Blue 1460 (OTA 632G) with a good queue of cars behind him. In the background you can see the splendid panorama of Eastbourne town, with Pevensey Bay at top right, and the coastline stretching on towards Bexhill and Hastings.
Not far behind was John Handford's Bristol MW6G EDV 502D, Royal Blue 1420 from 1966, with "Brighton" on its blind. It was really blustery up on the top of the ridge, and the rain had only recently cleared, but the forecast was for improvement, and that's what we eventually got.
More than a decade older was John Grigg's Bristol LS6G, Royal Blue 1299 (OTT 98) dating from 1953. It's quite a challenge for any vehicle to negotiate this long hill, so congratulations to the owners and drivers who made it, particularly with older coaches.
With Eastbourne Downs Golf Club situated off to the left, here is David Sheppard's 1962 Bristol SUL4A in Western National livery as 425 (275 KTA). The jolly passengers waved happily to me as they went by.
A mile and a half further west, the road plummets back down to the village of East Dean, only to climb rapidly up again to Friston - a climb of 200 feet in only half a mile. This can bring even the strongest to a grinding halt, so it's a relief to see that Richard Johnson's 1966 Bristol MW6G Royal Blue 1423 (EDV 505D) has made it up into Friston, albeit with a fine queue of vehicles in tow.
Also at Friston is Royal Blue 2200 (OTT 43), Roger Burdett's 1953 Bristol LS6G, which has successfully panted its way up the hill from East Dean, and now has a bit of level driving ahead of it before the next onslaught at Cuckmere Haven.
About 3 miles further on, the Cuckmere (pronounced "Cookmere") valley, back down at sea level, is crossed by a causeway ending at Exceat (pronounced "Exit") Bridge, only wide enough for one vehicle at a time. About half an hour behind the leaders, this is Gary Dwyer's lovely East Kent AEC Reliance KFN 220 crossing the bridge. I love these vehicles and it was delight to see it.
By the time Lionel Tancock's delightful 1947 Wilts & Dorset Bristol L6B (EMW 284) crossed the bridge over the River Cuckmere, the sun was out and it had turned into quite a pleasant day. After the bridge, the road turns up the west side of the valley, climbing about 150 feet in half a mile to enter the town of Seaford.
Here comes the boss! Colin Billington's 1951 Bristol LL6B, Royal Blue 1250 (LTA 729), came roaring lustily off the bridge and round the corner, so it seemed to be having no difficulty with the ups and downs of Sussex.
In a way, this was the oldest vehicle so far, as the guts of Richard Perry's East Kent Beadle rebuild came from a 1938 Leyland TD5 double decker. I remember when Beadle rebuilds were very common (although I never saw one on the South Coast Express) and have a soft spot for them, so it was great to see this old stager in action.
The coaches I recall seeing most frequently on the South Coast Express were these, and they epitomise the service as I remember it. This 1961 Bristol MW6G, Royal Blue 2246 (625 DDV), belongs to Graham Thorogood. In the left background you can just see the coast road descending rapidly down the other side of the valley - another challenge for the brakes!
We're now about 50 minutes since the first coach led the wagon train past me, and I had to depart for another appointment, so this fabulous Maidstone & District 1962 Harrington Cavalier (Mike Pack's 28 TKR) is where I had to leave the proceedings. I was surprised that I didn't see any other photographers recording the event over this stretch of the south downs, but I guess that means I'm the only one who got pictures like these!
Anyway, sincere congratulations to the organisers - I thought it was a wonderful thing to have done, and a joy to behold.
P.S. A nice bit of video (not mine) at Winchelsea here.
HCVS LONDON TO BRIGHTON RUN - 5 MAY 2012
Terry Blackman very kindly sent these pictures taken in Madeira Drive, Brighton, at the end of the annual Historic Commercial Vehicle Society London to Brighton run.
Entrant J8 was a fabulous Leyland Tiger TS7, new to Stockport as their number 191 in 1937. David Hoare's JA 7591 has an uncommon English Electric body with a centre entrance. The "GSR" logo on the side deserves some explanation; several vehicles were used in the filming of the 1999 movie "Angela's Ashes" (with Robert Carlyle and Emily Watson), and this was one of them. Filmed in Ireland, they were given false Irish registration numbers and liveries, and JA 7591 was painted with this "Great Southern Railway" insignia, which it still wears.
Entrant K1 was a Leyland Comet - fairly rare in UK, but common as muck in New Zealand. MHY 765 was the first Comet PSV chassis, and was delivered to Orient Coaches of Kingswood, Bristol in 1950 but currently lives in Sheffield. The 32-seat body is by Duple. Present owners Terry and Hazel Ellin acquired the coach in 1995 and have been lovingly restoring it ever since.
Entrant K8 was Roger Burdett's fine Bristol MW6G from 1961. It was Western National 2267, but wore Royal Blue livery for express coach services. I remember coaches like this on the South Coast Express service swinging through Eastbourne, where we considered them pretty unusual and exotic (Sussex was not renowned for Bristol products). Four of this batch survive out of sixteen delivered that year (2254-2269) but this would seem to be the only one currently 'out and about'.
Many thanks to Terry for these photos.
NORWICH BUS RALLY, NORWICH SHOWGROUND - 5 SEPTEMBER 2010
John Wakefield kindly sent me these pictures of some fine coaches seen at Norwich. As usual with John, most of them are Bedfords!
Bedford OB LTT 913 had just emerged from a four-year restoration. New to Sunbeam of Torquay in 1949, it was entered by the BK Museum, Hepworth, Sufolk.
This Plaxton-bodied Bedford SB5 was new to Appleby, Conisholme in 1974 and still wears their livery. Entered by Stones of North Somercotes.
A pair of 1962 Bedford SB / Duple Super Vegas. XDL 730 (an SB8, new to Southern Vectis, Isle of Wight as No.249) has been a motorhome for about 20 years, but is in very good shape, and was entered by Reuben Youngblood. 675 OCV (an SB3, and the last coach to be acquired by Crimson Tours of St.Ives, Cornwall before they ceased operating) was brought along by Len Wright who has proudly owned it for many years.
LAO 630 is an Albion Victor with a (probably unique) Duple body, new to J.H.Henderson of Alston, Cumbria in 1952, and entered by Easton's of Stratton Strawless.
Thanks very much to John for the photos of these slightly more unusual vehicles.
BRISTOL VINTAGE BUS GROUP, BRISLINGTON RUNNING DAY - 28 MARCH 2010
Ken Jones very kindly sent me these pictures from the Bristol Vintage Bus Group mini running day.
Left to right in this picture at Flowers Hill are DHW 293K (Bristol Omnibus 1972 Bristol LH6L No.353), LFM 767 (Crosville 1950 Bristol L5G No.KG118), NHU 2 (Bristol Omnibus 1951 Bristol LSX5G No.2800), and AHU 803 (Bristol Omnibus 1934 Bristol JO5G No.2355).
Here's a closer view of the delightful AHU 803, which belongs to the Bristol group, and is seen at Willsbridge, near Keynsham. Originally built as a coach, it was rebodied as a bus in June 1947.
Fewer than ten Bristol JO5G vehicles survive today, so we are fortunate to have this outstanding example with us. Here is the beautifully restored interior. Many thanks to Ken for sending these excellent images.
CHATSWORTH PRESERVED BUS GATHERING - 22 JUNE 2008
Chris Wagstaff was travelling through the magnificent Chatsworth Park in Derbyshire on 22 June when he noticed some elderly buses parked in front of Chatsworth House, so he went to investigate. Fortunately Chris thought immediately of the Classic Buses Website, and kindly whipped out his trusty camera. Here are the results.
We must start with one of Chris's favourite types - the Bedford OB. This is ATS 408, a typical Duple-bodied example from 1948. Delivered new to a company in Scotland, it is now operated by Simpson & Smith, of Killamarsh near Sheffield, wearing the livery of Cosy Coach Tours.
And here's another one. FWW 596 also has a Duple body, but this time with windows in the roof to brighten up the interior. It was delivered new to West Yorkshire Road Car Co. in 1947 as their number 646 (later renumbered CP1), and now lives in Bradford.
From the other end of the country comes HOD 30, a 1948 Western National (Royal Blue) Bristol L6A with a Beadle coach body. It was wonderfully restored in the late 1990s and is now operated by Yesteryear Coaches of Shipley.
LTA 629 also comes from the West Country, having been delivered new to Devon General (Grey Cars) in 1950 as their number TCR629, although it has more commonly been seen in Scotland in recent years. It is an AEC Regal III with a classic Duple "A" style of body.
JRA 635 is one of two ex-Chesterfield Leyland PS1 Tigers to survive, although the other one is in poor shape. No.48, new in April 1947, is now owned by TM Travel back in its home town of Chesterfield. The 35-seat bus body was made by Crossley.
Looking terrific in its Yorkshire Woollen District Transport livery is HD 7905, a 1948 Leyland Tiger PS1 with a Brush 34-seat bus body. This one would have won the Classic Buses Website award (if there was such a thing!). Restoration was completed in 2002, and it now lives in Leeds.
Lastly we have JFJ 873, a 1949 Daimler CVD6SD with a Weymann bus body, new to Exeter Corporation as No.73, later No.173. It now belongs to John Handford, and lives in Solihull. Sister bus JFJ 875 also survives.
Many thanks to Chris for sending these fine photos.
IPSWICH TRANSPORT MUSEUM - 7 OCTOBER 2007
"Come and Ride on our Buses!", was the invitation at Ipswich Transport Museum, Suffolk for their open day on 7 October 2007. Owen Phillips was rostered for conducting on the day, but still managed to take some fine photos, a few of which are shown here;
The first picture shows three of the vehicles seen on the day. On the left is ADX 1, the first motorbus purchased by Ipswich Corporation. New in May 1950, Ipswich No.1 is an AEC Regent III with a Park Royal body, and has been with the Museum since its withdrawal from service in 1973. Next is GR 9007, a glorious Crossley DD42, privately owned and hailing from nearby Essex, although originally from faraway Sunderland where it was new in 1947 as their No.13. This bus has been the subject of a massive restoration exercise by Tony Melia and John Jackson, which has taken around 10 years, and was finally completed in 2007. On the right is KNG 374, a Bristol K5G bought in 1950 by Eastern Counties and numbered LK374. It is a part of the Museum collection and this event was its launch to the public, now fully restored if not quite up to MOT standards yet. It certainly does look good in Tilling red and cream and is the only ECOC lowbridge K restored. Unfortunately none of those three fine vehicles was in operation during the day, and they were only on display.
Below is another Ipswich Regent;
Ipwich No.63 (ADX 63B) is a 1964 AEC Regent V with a Massey body which has been a Museum resident for over 20 years. It was owned by Ipswich buses from new in 1964 to the early 1990s when the MD had its ownership transfered to the Ipswich Transport Museum. Subsequently they have maintained it in operational condition, and it is largely original, as with ADX 1 above.
Another local bus is shown below;
Owned by well-known restorer and Eastern Counties enthusiast Patrick Burnside, this is Eastern Counties LC556 a Bristol SC4LK which entered service in 1959. Rescued from a scrapyard in the 1970s, it was kept at various sites until Patrick acquired it in 1993. Like the Crossley shown above, its restoration was eventually completed this year. A work of art, and congratulations to Patrick. Finally another Museum exhibit;
VF 8157 is a Chevrolet LQ with a Bush & Twiddy body, and dates back to 1930. Operated by Mulleys from 1940, the vehicle is actually a combination of two, and the present body is not the original. Rescued by preservationists in 1959, its actually pedigree is a little murky but the condition in which it is now displayed brilliantly demonstrates the classic style of coach available in the 1930s for trips to the coast or works outings. A magnificent exhibit.
For more details of the Ipswich Transport Museum see there website here, and many thanks to Owen for sending me the pictures.
EASTBOURNE BUSES RUNNING DAY - 23 JULY 2006
A few photos taken on a splendid Sunday in 2006 when classic buses were running throughout the town, and also recreating regional routes. The event was organised by Country Bus Rallies, and supported by the Eastbourne Regent Preservation Group, Eastbourne Borough Council and the East Sussex Omnibus Society.
A delightful bus on a wonderful day in pleasant surroundings - what more could one ask ? Preserved 1939 Eastbourne Leyland LT8 Lion No.12 (JK 8418) passes the Carpet Gardens near the Pier, on its way along the seafront towards the Foot of Beachy Head. (Photo: Dick Gilbert)
Also passing the Pier is Steven Wood's fine ex-Eastbourne Regent V No.69 (KHC 369) which worked hard all day. Steven says he knows the yellow isn't right, but that's how it was when he bought it, and he'll get round to changing it eventually! (Photo: Dick Gilbert)
This picture was taken at Eastbourne's Miniature Railway site (used for the static display) the previous day, and shows Eastbourne AEC Regents No.42 (AHC 442), 69 (KHC 369) and 67 (KHC 367). Unfortunately 67 developed a mechanical problem after about an hour on the Sunday and had to be taken out of service. (Photo: Steven Wood)
Here is Scott McAvoy, proud conductor of Eastbourne 1950 AEC Regal No.11 (AHC 411). The driver was Garth Porrell, and Scott describes himself as "KK72042 Bus Rally Conductor for hire for rallies in Kent, Hampshire and Sussex, comes with full uniform and Ticket Machine!". (Photo: Ray McAvoy)
Southdown Route 15 was originally jointly operated with Maidstone & District between Eastbourne and Hastings, running inland via Hailsham. The part between Eastbourne and Polegate was recreated on the running day by Southdown 1956 Leyland Titan PD2 No.786 (RUF 186), and here we see it storming along Upperton Road with a very full load, on its way out of town. (Photo: Dick Gilbert)
Another jointly-run route between Eastbourne and Hastings was the 99, which took the coast road. The section as far as Pevensey Bay was recreated by ex Maidstone & District 1951 Titan PD2 DH379 (NKT 875), seen here awaiting its next departure at Eastbourne Railway Station, used as the hub for all routes throughout the day. (Photo: Dick Gilbert)
A green RT would have been a very rare visitor to Eastbourne in the 1950s and 60s, but Peter Sapte's RT3148 looks quite at home under the wonderful Victorian roof over what had originally been platform 5 and a siding at Eastbourne railway station, but is now used as a taxi rank. The RT was operating "Route 14" which connected the station with the static display at the Miniature Railway. Altogether a wonderful day, and I hope it will be held again. (Photo: Dick Gilbert)
COBHAM OPEN DAY - 4 APRIL 2004
Some pictures of vehicles that caught my eye at the London Bus Preservation Trust Open Day held at Cobham bus museum and Wisley airfield in 2004.
Star of the show (for me) was Les Burchell's outstanding Southdown Leyland TS7 Tiger No.1179 (DUF 179). Built in 1937 as one of a batch of twenty for Southdown with typical and glamorous Harrington coachwork, it has been in preservation since 1957. This coach was described by the legendary bus guru Tony Peart as "..one of the most beautiful and original late 1930s Leyland Tigers in existence". I'll go along with that.
Also from the Southdown fleet was newly-restored Leyland Titan PD2/12 No.786 (RUF 186). Built in 1956 as one of over 100 basically similar vehicles delivered to Southdown in the 1950s, it is the only survivor of ten Beadle-bodied examples. Recovered in a rather ropey condition from France in 1997 by Eric Stobart, the restoration was virtually complete when photographed here, although Southdown transfers were still to be applied. On the left is Southdown No.547 (PUF 647), a Park Royal bodied Guy Arab from the same era.
A splendid Leyland PS1 Tiger with Scottish origins was EAV 458, originally No.117 with Sutherland of Peterhead. Built in 1948 with a classic Duple body, it is now owned by Brian Nash of Enfield, as No.1 in his Falcon Coaches fleet.
Seen previously on this website, it was a delight to be reunited with Dennis Lancet MJ 4549, and I need no excuse to show it again. Built in 1932 for Smiths of Westoning, I think it is the oldest Dennis Lancet in existence, and has a rare Short body. Owned for many years by Roy Miles, and much loved by his family, this vehicle is wonderful, historic, beautifully presented, and a real pleasure to see. It still has a hand starter, and Roy would be very grateful to anyone who could fit an electric one for him, as he's finding it hard work these days!
Finally here's a little gem which lives near me in Sussex. 1958 Albion Nimbus XTA 839 was originally No.839 in the Devon General fleet, where these small buses were ideal for work in country lanes. Now owned by Fred Taylor, it had only been painted a few months before being seen here.
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