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News - 2011

(Click here to see news page from 2010)


Some of the most recent events affecting us and our fleet:

(Click on photos for full size images)

Monday, 26 December: our final event of the year has now become the annual provision of a free bus service to the residents of Torbay.701 at Torquay Strand - 261111

The idea was first hatched a few years back when we became aware of similar Christmas / Boxing Day bus services operated by preserved bus groups in other parts of the country.  Whilst we have never had ambitions to match the scale of these (some involve multiple vehicles and a number of routes), the thought gradually evolved of providing some form of basic service on a day of the year when neither the railway nor any bus companies operate. 701 at Torquay Castle Circus - 261111Hence, this is now the third year during which  one of our buses has been out on Boxing Day and the service is attracting greater numbers each year.  Route '136' is now featured in Torbay Council's travel literature and was also trailed on Palm FM.

Today, our Volvo B6 provided the transport (happily, with none of the 'issues' encountered below!) and we ran 7 return jouneys between Torquay (Castle Circus and the Strand) and Paignton (Library).701 at Torquay Strand - 261111  Over 150 passengers (and a dog) were carried this year and we received many favourable and appreciative comments (from the passengers ... the dog was seemingly unimpressed!).

Monday, 28 November - Thursday, 1 December: the 'glamorous' side of bus preservation, if there is one, can be characterised by driving a shiny bus down a country road on a sunny summer's day with a complement of happy passengers - all is sweetness and light.  The reality is, however, often very different and many behind-the-scenes hours contribute to each one that the bus is on display.  This week saw an ample illustration of this in the form of our Volvo B6's MOT ...

With a decision having been taken to renew 701's existing Class 6 (PSV) MOT rather than reverting to the more common and less costly Class 5, an appointment was booked with VOSA, Taunton for Monday afternoon.  This entailed a round trip of c 80 miles from Torquay to the testing station and a fee of 130 for the test itself.  The journey up was uneventful other than the battery charge meter showing slightly less than the normal 24-26V which, at first, seemed to be of little significance.  This fault developed, however, and by the time Taunton was reached the display read 22V, suggesting a fault with the batteries or charging circuit.

With only 10 minutes to spare we arrived at the site where the VOSA testing station used to be, only to find that it seemed to have gone!   A few frantic enquiries revealed that the access route had changed and a bit of back-tracking saw us arrive at the station at exactly the time of the appointment.

Visits to these places are never a particularly mood enhancing experience: perhaps on a par with a trip to the dentist or a few hours in the A&E waiting room.  The VOSA personnel are well trained in being polite yet slightly distant and conversation rarely seems to develop much from the usual pleasantries and cursory disbelief that anyone would be so foolish as to preserve a bus.  Anyway, the routine was followed and 701 was duly examined, hammered, jerked-around and emission-tested, all with the customary sceptical eye and copious scribbling on clipboards.  It is easy to conclude that the vehicle must have failed on just about every measure ...

The result?  Yes, it did fail but on a most unlikely issue.  On the rear of the bus there 701 on test - 281111are 3 sets of tail lights and indicators on each side - low, middle and high level.  Whilst all of these worked perfectly when the side lights, indicators or brakes were applied, 2 of the nearside lights failed to function when the hazard lights were switched on.  Probably a simple wiring problem somewhere, but enough to scupper our chances of a pass.

Downhearted, we set-off for home in the fading light and drizzle.  The effects of running with headlights and wipers soon began to force the issue with the charging fault though and it gradually became apparent that the journey was likely to be truncated before too long.  In the event, loss of gear selection on the A38 just before the Tiverton Services brought matters to a head and we staggered into the service area with very dim lights and little else.

In these circumstances there are 2 clear options: fix it yourself or summon assistance.  As most non-mechanical preserved bus owners avail themselves of some form of breakdown cover, and with little chance of remedying a presumed701 at Tiverton Services - 281111 alternator fault on the roadside, in the dark, the latter was our selected option.  The standard response time is usually one hour.

Almost exactly one hour later a van with multiple flashing amber lights pulled in behind us and a cheery mechanic (on time and a half!) enquired as to the nature of the problem.  He quickly confessed that this was his 'first bus' and, despite a few token efforts at locating the fault, it was soon apparent that a tow was very much on the cards.  With the van provided capable of dragging little more than a disability scooter, something a bit bigger had to be summoned and we were informed that this would be coming from Weston-super-Mare.  A further hour passed, assisted by regular visits to the on-site facilities (could have been worse!).

In due course a more substantial tow truck arrived with an even more impressive array of flashing lights and expensive looking gadgets.  The driver initially seemed 701 at Tiverton Services - 281111somewhat uncommunicative and we discovered, after a while, that he was from Lithuania and spoke only broken English.  This did little to enhance the overall 'customer experience' but, in fairness, he was clearly very competent and well experienced in towing large vehicles and rapidly set-about suspending the front end of the bus, securing it with various chains and straps.  Having then removed the half-shaft, it seemed that we were ready for the off until the final item - the backboard with registration plate and lights, indicators, etc - was put into place.  A problem with this was soon apparent as application of the tow truck brakes seemed to bring on random selections of lights with all the regularity of an amusement arcade slot machine; ditto with the sidelights and indicators.  By this time 701's batteries were completely discharged so the problem had to be addressed before we could take to the road.  A further enjoyable hour passed ...

At around 21:30, 5 hours after our forced arrival, the 60 foot convoy edged its way out of the services and onto the M5.  Good progress was then made and Torquay was reached shortly after 23:00.  A replacement alternator was soon sourced and fitted and, despite inital fears that the batteries had been 'cooked' (the old alternator appeared to be delivering 84V at one stage), these have responded well to some TLC and seem fine.  As for the hazard warning light problem, somewhat eclipsed by later events, this was traced to 2 dirty contacts which have now been cleaned-up.

701 was submitted for a re-test on 1 December and passed without incident.

How much of this are the travelling public at rallies ever aware of?  Should they care?  No, of course not.  But an interesting insight (maybe) for those who enjoy the events, that there's slightly more to it than just jumping into the bus on rally day and welcoming passengers aboard!  Oh yes, and then there's the cost ... but that's another story altogether.

Sunday, 27 November: with November having been relatively mild throughout, it is 1804 at Yeovil - 271111hard to imagine that winter is just around the corner.  The onset of colder weather must, however, arrive soon and anti-freeze levels on all of the Group's vehicles are now being tested to ensure adequate cover.  With this done, it is obviously necessary to take the vehicles out and ensure that the coolant is adequately 'mixed' so the opportunity was taken for an informal close-of-season run using 3 of the buses.

Our Olympian, 1804, has seen relatively little use this year but always springs into 88 at Piddletrenthide - 271111life when called-upon.  A run to Yeovil and back doesn't add too many miles to the clock but at least allows the engine to fully warm-up and gives the vehicle some use. The photograph shows it parked on the bus stop near the Yeo Leisure Park

The Marshall-bodied LHS (88) has done more work this year but after the very damp Weymouth Running Day developed a starter motor fault that has only just been remedied.  Its 5 months off the road don't seem to have affected it though and a trip through the Dorset lanes between Sherborne and Dorchester ensured that everything was in full working order.  Our journey took-in Pulham, Alton Pancras, Piddletrenthide (see photo), Cheselbourne, Puddletown, Dorchester (lunch), Cerne1159 at Sherborne - 271111 Abbas and Longburton before returning to Sherborne.

Last on the list was 1159 which, in contrast to 1804, has seen much activity during the year, principally in the form of Llandudno during April/May and several other less far-flung fixtures.  Again, a trip to Yeovil and back was more than adequate to re-charge the batteries and ensure that the coolant mix was OK.  We paused for a final photocall at Sherborne's Greenhill bus stop, just after dark

Monday, 14 November: annual MOT time again for 563 and a pass was achieved without incident

Sunday, 23 October: our good friend and fellow preservationist, Phil Platt, recently2883 at Belgrave Rd, Exeter - 231011 took ownership of 9RDV, an AEC Reliance with Marshall bodywork dating from 1964. The vehicle had, for many years, been stored near Birmingham so its appearance at events in the West Country was relatively rare.  To celebrate its return to 'home turf' it was decided to stage a running day re-creating some of the routes that '9' would have operated during its working days with Devon General.  Our own Leyland National '2883' was invited to attend as it was a direct successor to the Reliances and also spent much of its working life in and around 9RDV entering Exmouth - 231011Exeter and Exmouth.  Stagecoach Devon also supplied a more modern Volvo to make-up the trio.  Having journeyed-down from Dorchester we met with a heavily-laden 9RDV at Exeter and the 3 buses then made their way to Exmouth for our first stop.  From there our route took us to Sidmouth and then on to Seaton for lunch.  During the afternoon we traveled in convoy via Axminster to Chard and called at the Stagecoach outpost depot there.  It was then time to start heading home via Honiton and we arrived back in Exeter around 5pm.  Many thanks go to Phil for a very enjoyable day out which was well3 buses outside Stagecoach, Chard depot - 231011 supported by the Devon-based enthusiasts.  '9' will now be off the road for a few months whilst the interior receives attention ahead of the major AEC Centenary events planned for May 2012

Sunday, 4 September: our third annual Torbay Vintage Bus Running Day.  As is now8159EL customary, the event started on the Saturday evening with the usual tour around some of the former Devon General routes within Torquay and Paignton, with a stop for Fish and Chips in Paignton.  It was good to see a few of our regular supporters on this outing, transport for which was provided by Leyland National, 2883 and Volvo B6, 701.  The main event was held, once again, at Shedden Hill car park and, unlike this year's Weymouth Running Day, CTT513Cthe weather was fine until around 4.30pm by which time most of the day's activity was over.  Although the number of entries was down on previous years (a sign of the times, presumably), we were nonetheless pleased to welcome 23 buses and coaches, most of which had also agreed to run 'in service'.  Hence, we were able to operate the full 10 routes planned and, with good numbers of enthusiasts and the general public in attendance, the day was enjoyed by many passengers, spectators andYPL448T photographers alike.  Our sincere thanks go to all the vehicle owners, helpers and visitors for making the day such a success.  Special mention must also go to our sponsors, Stagecoach Devon and Torbay Council, without whom the event simply would not take place (photos courtesy of Carl Berry, Ben Beaver and Simon Coates)

Sunday, 7 August: the Gosport rally is organised by the Provincial Society and takes place just off the sea front at Stokes Bay, adjacent to Gosport.  Woody's S235919 at Gosport Rally - 070811 (RHA919G) made the journey with 8 on board and ran various services during the day.  A good attendance and pleasant weather made for another enjoyable day out

Sunday, 24 July: the Western National Preservation Group annual rally in Plymouth is a little too distant to take one of our vehicles from Dorset there and back in a day but 701 near Ivybridge - 240711we do try and support the event in any way we can.  This year, newly-acquired B6 (P701BTA) ran from Torquay with a small number of interested attendees.  701 is in the midst of preparation for a complete re-paint so was presented in a mixture of current Stagecoach livery, rubbed-down paintwork and bare metal.  Unsurprisingly it didn't win the 'Best Bus' award but nevertheless made the journey in an effortless fashion and completed two service runs during the day.  The event is held on Plymouth Hoe which in poor weather can be none too appealing but happily this year was dry and the sun broke-through on occasions

Tuesday, 19 July: such was the success of our trip to the Luscombe Valley Railway518 at Luscombe Valley Railway - 190711 during August of last year (see 2010 News page) that our friends in Transport of Yesteryear (TOY) decided that they would like to repeat the visit in 2011.  This was duly arranged with the owner, Mr Richard Knott, and we journeyed to Sandbanks aboard Regent V, CTT518C.  Most of the attractions at the LVR are mentioned on its website but the place really has to be seen to gain a full appreciation of what has been achieved.  The extensive garden railway (five inch scale) is very impressive as it weaves its way in and out of various Luscombe Valley Railway - 190711landscaped features, all controlled by a fully computerised signalling system.  Perhaps even more elaborate though is the 'OO' gauge model railway inside Richard's house which takes railway modelling to a whole new level.  A very enjoyable 2 hours or so was spent at the Railway and the journey back to Dorchester was completed without incident.  Our thanks go to Richard and his team of helpers for what was another excellent evening.  The photos show views over the garden railway as well as shots of parts of the indoor layoutOO Gauge Layout at Luscombe Valley - 190711OO Gauge Railway at Luscombe Valley - 190711

5919 outside Portland Castle - 260611Sunday, 26 June: our annual visit to the Transport of Yesteryear show held at Chickerell, near Weymouth.  Although TOY is essentially a club dedicated to the interests of classic car owners, we enjoy close links with the committee and various members regularly join us on our organised trips.  The TOY annual show is always an enjoyable event held, as it is, in quite a small field in Chickerell.  Exhibits, as well as the many other attractions, are necessarily quite tightly packed-in and this adds to the Beardmore Taxi at Chickerell - 270611intimacy and atmosphere of the show.  This year's event was, once again, blessed with a hot, sunny day and the turnout both of vehicles and visitors was excellent.  We provided a member of the Devon & Dorset Group fleet in the shape of Woody's S23 (RHA919G) and, as well as creating much interest as a static display, we provided free 'mystery tour' services at 11am, 1pm and 3pm.  These comprised a trip to see the 'Weymouth Lights' (the innumerable new traffic lights that is!) and then a run over to5919 outside Portland Castle - 260611 Portland Castle where we stopped briefly before returning via a different route to the show site.  Nearly 100 passengers were carried across the 3 trips and the mist that had enveloped much of the bay area during the morning gradually cleared as the day went on.  All in all a very enjoyable event and congratulations must go to the TOY organising committee for another successful show

Saturday, 18 June: it is said that all good things must come to an end, although the supposed rationale for this is not so often explained.  In bus terms, this means1215 at Hampshire Body & Paint - 060504 bidding a fond farewell today to a longstanding member of the fleet, James's Bristol VR, LFJ862W (1215).  This page records, a little over a month ago, the arrival of the new B6LE; sadly, this means that 1215 can no longer be retained and so it has today gone to an operator in the Basingstoke area.  James first acquired the bus during 2003 making it the second longest-standing member of the DDG fleet. Needless to say, it was obtained in 'service' condition and so has required 1215 - 280405much work over the years to bring it up to standard. This has involved 2 full re-paints (the first into Devon General 'de-regulation' livery and then, latterly, into NBC Poppy Red) as well as countless mechanical, bodywork and cosmetic tasks.  Over the past 8 years 1215 has become a regular feature on the rally scene and has made appearances as far afield as Llandudno and Penzance.  It has gained a reputation for solid reliability and has provided the transport for many outings organised both by the Devon and Dorset Group, the former Inner Circle Group and various others.  We will miss her but wish her well in her new life in Hampshire!1215 - 180611

Saturday, 18 June: today saw us play hosts to the Omnibus Society, an911 at Crewkerne - 180611 organisation dedicated to the study and appreciation of all aspects of the bus and coach industry, past present and future.  Various 'themed' weekends and outings are held during the year and the plan today was to focus on two former operators from the South Somerset area: Safeway Services and Hutchings and Cornelius.  We are fortunate to have one of the few vehicles that have survived into preservation from either of these operators in the shape of our ex-Safeway Leopard, TYD911W, and this was the obvious mode of transport to use for today's outing.  Some 10 members and a few 911 outside former Safeway yard, South Petherton - 180611of our regular supporters gathered and enjoyed trips around Yeovil, Ilminster, Crewkerne and, of course, South Petherton where both operators had their bases.  We re-traced some of the old Safeway routes as far as possible, including some very narrow country lanes which don't now see buses as large as 911 on a regular basis!  Several stops were made at Yeovil Bus Station (for which thanks go to First) and it was good to re-create some photographic opportunities from the 80s and 90s.  A visit to South West Coaches' Yeovil depot was also arranged (again, many thanks to SWC for allowing this).  The photographs show 911 posed in Crewkerne and outside the former Safeway Services yard in South Petherton (now a small residential development).

Sunday, 12 June: this year's Weymouth Vintage Bus Running Day was held a week earlier than normal due to other commitments in the town on our 'usual' weekend and, having enjoyed several years of fine weather for the event, our luck1159 at Portland Bill - 120611 eventually ran out.  The day dawned wet and rain continued relentlessly throughout, accompanied by high winds.  Hardly the day for a bus rally but, despite this, every entrant that had promised a vehicle to run in service during the day attended, as did the great majority of others.  Although the number of visitors was obviously down on previous events, we were delighted with comments received and it seems that those that did make the effort enjoyed the event despite the conditions.  The reality is that, in their working life our buses ran whatever the weather and there is something uniquely atmospheric about traveling on a vintage vehicle with misted-up windows and rain beating on the roof, or with winds buffeting a double-decker across Portland Heights!

Many thanks must go to our dedicated team of volunteers who braved the weather as marshals, controllers, conductors or helping-out in other ways.  We are also very grateful to our new sponsors, South West Coaches and Weymouth & Portland Borough Council, without whose assistance the event would not have taken place.

Wednesday, 1 June: Woody's birthday (better not say which one!), so yet another1159 overlooking Chesil Beach - 010611 excuse for a bus outing.  1159 was again the chosen vehicle and we spent an enjoyable afternoon on a trip from Weymouth to Portland Bill, then back via the coast road to Bridport, stopping for ice cream and birthday cake along the way.  The return journey was made via Dorchester where we enjoyed a meal at La Gondola, the local Italian restaurant, before returning to Weymouth.  Another very enjoyable day out!

701 at Hesketh Crescent - 290511Sunday, 29 May: any new vehicle entering the fleet deserves an inaugural day out so it was entirely appropriate that we welcomed our latest addition, Volvo B6LE (P701BTA), in just this way.  The day started at the Honiton Road Park & Ride site in Exeter from where we made our way into Exeter Coach Station for a quick stop before heading for Newton Abbot.  The route taken was that of the current (and historic) '2', via Dawlish and Teignmouth where the first 701 at Kingswear 'Banjo' - 290511of numerous photo stops was taken.  Having then picked-up a couple of passengers at Newton Abbot, we made our way along the '12' route through to Torquay Coach Station (more photos).  Of course, no trip to Torquay is complete without the obligatory pilgrimage to Hesketh Crescent (surely one of the better bus photographic backdrops in South Devon) and this trip was certainly not going to buck that trend.  Having 701 at Broadsands Viaduct - 290511worked the cameras hard once again, it was non-stop to Paignton where lunch was taken, and then on to Brixham.  The Brixham Breakwater provides another scenic area for photography and the bus turning circle enables a stop to be made without inconveniencing other traffic.  After this we headed back to Broadsands Viaduct and were fortunate that our visit coincided with a steam train (a 'Manor' class loco it would seem) traversing the 701 at Kingswear 'Banjo' - 290511viaduct - again, a great photo opportunity.  Our final destination of the day was Kingswear where the 'Banjo' provides another superb background over the River Dart, the steam railway and Dartmouth on the opposite bank of the river.  The return trip to Exeter was then made, with refreshments at Exeter Services around 5pm.  Altogether an excellent day out and a great 'proving' trip for 701 which acquitted itself very well throughout

Friday, 27 May: a further trip to the MOT testing station today, this time with the Leyland Leopard, TYD911W.  A clean bill of health was recorded with just a couple of minor points to be addressed over the coming weeks

1159 at Bristol Harbourside Rally - 22 May 2011Sunday, 22 May: the day of the Bristol Harbourside Rally usually means torrential rain but a welcome exception occurred this year with blue skies and no rain throughout the day (although it was very windy).  The event was, once again, held adjacent to the Lloyds Amphitheatre in Canons Marsh, Bristol.  There is limited space at the venue and the rally always seems to be over-subscribed ... hence there is a good selection of buses to look at and ride 'At Bristol'upon.  Inevitably there is a predominance of 'green' but, as ever, many vehicles from much further afield and a wide variety of operators were represented.  Our own VR, AFJ766T (1159) was in attendance and looked good parked right alongside the Inner Harbour quayside.  The modernistic architecture and features in the area of the rally site also made for an interesting diversion from the bus activity.  Thanks to Ben Beaver for the shot of 1159 1159 in Anchor Road, Bristol, approaching the Harbourside Rally site - 22 May 2011arriving at the rally site with Woody at the wheel

Monday, 16 May: we were saddened to learn, on 3 May, of the passing of another stalwart of the bus preservation world, Keith Falconer.  Keith worked for Devon General for no less than 43 years prior to his retirement during 2001 and was instrumental in saving our oldest fleet member, 913DTT, from a very uncertain future.  Between 1985 and 1996 the bus was largely under Keith's care and much work was done by a dedicated team of volunteers to ensure that the bus survived into preservation.  Indeed, testament to their combined efforts is the fact that the vehicle was later returned to service with an independent operator.

Keith's family asked whether it would be possible for the bus to attend his funeral, held today in Torquay.  Despite 913's current mechanical problems (it needs a replacement gearbox), we felt it was important that it should participate if at all possible and it was duly 'nursed' down to Devon.  Once there it took part in the funeral cortege and then provided transport for a commemorative trip around Torquay after the service.

A fitting tribute to a kind and generous gentleman who dedicated his life to the bus industry.  May he rest in peace.

701 at Exeter Coach StationWednesday, 11 May: as announced a month or so back, James was successful in securing Volvo B6LE, P701BTA for preservation and today saw its collection from Stagecoach's Wellington depot and transfer to its new home in Torbay.  After some initial problems with the accelerator (the vehicle had been stood idle for several weeks) the trip was undertaken with ease (see YouTube clip) and a diversion was made into Exeter Coach Station where we happened to meet-up with John Lacey and his Ford Transit 190D 701 at Honiton Rd Park & Ride(C748FFJ) which today celebrated the 25th anniversary of its introduction in to service.  The B6 is in good overall repair and drives very well.  James plans to run it in its present condition for the next few months and then hopes to have it repainted during the winter.  Various cosmetic/minor jobs can be completed in the meantime and the aim will be to achieve the greatest degree of 'period' authenticity possible ... plans are already well advanced towards this end.  Look out, there could be a VR for sale!!

Saturday, 7 May: today was the 70th3089 birthday of our good friend and supporter, Joe Ward.  Joe has been a lifelong bus enthusiast so a surreptitious outing was planned with 1159.  A number of Joe's friends were briefed to gather near the Pageant Gardens in Weymouth at 11:00, along with the bus, and at the appointed time Joe was coaxed out of the local cafe for his 'surprise' bus trip.  This took the form of a journey down to Swanage where the Swanage Railway was holding a diesel gala.  We spent around 4 hours in Swanage before re-assembling at the bus 3106where birthday cake was taken (and lemonade!) ahead of the return to Weymouth.  Another good day out and, hopefully, a memorable birthday celebration

Thursday, 5 May: 518's turn to visit the MOT testing station today and achieve a new 'ticket' for 12 months

Thursday, 28 April - Tuesday, 3 May: the llandudno1first Bank Holiday weekend in May has traditionally become the weekend over which the Llandudno Transport Festival is held and this has now become something of a permanent fixture in the DDG calendar.  During recent years we have taken buses to the event (a 550 mile round trip in itself) and this year saw our most ambitious undertaking yet with 4 vehicles making the journey from Dorset and Devon to the North Wales coast.  We were joined by our good friends Terry Partridge (to whom thanks go for the attached photos) and Graham Bailey who travelled-up from Exeter in Terry's llandudno2ex-Southern National Series 3 VR, VDV122S.  From our own fleet the VR (1159), National (2883) and S23 (5919) attended.  Having made the journey up on Thursday, Friday was spent preparing the buses and removing several hundred dead insects that had accumulated the previous day ... we even missed the Royal Wedding!  Saturday, Sunday and Monday then saw 3 of the 4 vehicles 'in service', providing the free bus link between Llandudno town centre and Bodafon Fields where the Transport Festival is held as well as assisting with the Saturday and Sunday evening road runsllandudno3 to Conwy and around the Great Orme respectively.  The festival is deliberately timed to coincide with Llandudno's 'Victorian Extravaganza' and this means that the town is packed throughout the weekend.  As a result, heavy loadings are always seen and the fine weather this year certainly assisted.  Up to a dozen buses help out with the shuttle service, varying in age from the early 50s through to the 80s/90s and this adds an extra dimension to the event.  Tuesday saw us make the return journey to the south west and all 4 vehicles behaved impeccably throughout.


Tuesday, 26 April: it was the turn of Series 3 VR, 1215 (LFJ862W) to visit the testing station today and a new MOT was achieved successfully

Friday, 9 April: it seems like quite a while since we announced a new addition top701bta3 the Devon and Dorset Group fleet (actually, the last one was the Regent V, 518, during October 2009) and it's always something of an exciting moment.  So, today we can reveal that Volvo B6LE, P701BTA will be joining us shortly.  This is one of the first batch of low-floor vehicles to be delivered to Stagecoach South West during March 1997 and, as is often the case with bus acquisitions, there is a nostalgic connection to the new owner.  James remembers seeing these p701bta4vehicles parked in Exeter depot when new and spent many a 'happy' hour driving them on the '12' between Newton Abbot and Brixham.  Although to some these will appear to be quite modern vehicles they nevertheless represented another milestone in the evolution of passenger transport, offering much easier access for elderly and disabled passengers as well as a return to the policy of purchasing full size single deckers after some years of minibuses - hence it is right that an example should be saved for posterity.  The bus is just out of service so is fully up and running withp701bta2 a Class 6 MOT and can be driven away and enjoyed for a while without the need for much work.  The plan, in due course, is however to restore the vehicle to Stagecoach stripes livery and the EasyRider branding - see photo (courtesy of Dave Godley).  We are fortunate in that 701 retains quite a few original features and this will make the task of restoring it to near-original condition somewhat easier.  In this respect we are grateful to our good friends at Stagecoach in Exeter who have assisted greatly not only in the acquisition of the vehicle but also in ensuring that it has as much originality as can be achieved.  No doubt 701 will be seen at a few rallies and running events during the forthcoming season - watch our 'Future Events' section for details

Thursday, 31 March: a further trip was made to Martock for some minor remedial88martockth work required following 88's recent MOT. This was accomplished in less than 30 minutes and the bus returned to base without incident.  Although Martock Commercials, as the name would imply, undertakes work on a range of commercial vehicles, Malcolm the proprietor has extensive experience with older bus types and is 'sympathetic' to the preservation movement

Sunday, 27 March: today we attended the annual pre-season gathering of all the local groups organising events in the Weymouth area during 2011.  This is held at Weymouth Pavilion and the Regent V, 518 was parked on the forecourt, suitably adorned with publicity leaflets.  We spoke to a good number of people during the day and hopefully some of them will visit us at the Running Day on 12 June!

Wednesday, 16 March: the Olympian (1804) had recently developed a severe list to1804martock1a the nearside and investigations revealed that this was caused by the leveler valve extension having broken-off due to corrosion (being a more modern vehicle, the suspension is supported on air bags and the inflation of these is regulated by sensors that control the leveler valves on either side - the objective being to keep the bus as level as possible at all times, thus providing a more comfortable ride).  Whilst a temporary repair was effected to enable the bus to be moved, a more permanent fix was required so 1804 1804martock2awas taken to Martock Commercials where they quickly attended to the fault.  Two tyres were also in need of attention so a call was made at ITS just down the road from Martock Commercials where one tyre was replaced and another re-cut.  A successful day and 2 more jobs off the list!

Monday, 14 March: the early months of the year are very much MOT 'season' and today it was the turn of the LHS (88) and the Atlantean (913) to make the trip to Dorchester.  Both achieved passes with a few minor issues to be addressed

Sunday, 6 March: this was our second trip to the Bournemouth Aviation Museum, based across the road from Bournemouth Airport.  Their Vintage Vehicle Day is a mixture of buses, commercials and cars with the museum alongside for those who are interested in aviation history (  Our transport for the day was the Regent V, 518, and we provided 2 free services from the museum into the Bournemouth Travel Interchange; both of these saw full loads.  A parting bonus was the award of 'Best Bus' in the show (563 having been given this accolade last year)!

Saturday, 5 March: further MOT tests were due on the Leyland National (2883) and the BMMO S23.  Both tests were passed without incident and new certificates issued

Sunday, 27 February: one of the traditional early curtain-raisers to the main season Warminsteris the Warminster - Gillingham Road Run.  Whilst not a large event and one more aimed at preserved cars and commercials, one or two buses usually attend and it is quite local for us.

This year we were, in fact, the only bus in attendance but the Leyland Leopard 911 (TYD911W) made the journey from Dorchester to Warminster and back via Gillingham without incident.  Overall numbers appeared to be slightly down on previous years but the event was nonetheless enjoyable.  Rain tends to feature regularly and this year was no exception, albeit not anything like was seen last year.

The photographs show 911 parked at Warminster before the commencement of the Road Run and then at Gillingham.  The final shot is courtesy of John Reeves and shows the bus approaching the display site in Gillingham having followed the Scammell down from Mere.



Wednesday, 9 February: annual MOT inspections were due on both Series 3 VR, 1159 and the Leyland Olympian, 1804.  Two consecutive appointments were booked at the testing station and two passes were achieved with no significant issues!

Sunday, 2 January: this year's Friends of King Alfred 563(1)Buses (FoKAB) 'New Year's Day' running day was held on the 2nd of January and we attended with Series 2 VR, 563.  With a good attendance from our regular supporters and several Wessex Transport Society members joining us in and around the Poole/Bournemouth area, we arrived at Winchester with 33 on board.  563 was booked to do two service runs to Alresford and two to Twyford Waterworks and563(2) all of these attracted virtually full loads.  We returned to Dorchester around 19:30 - all in all an excellent day out.  The photographs show 563 at Winchester Bus Station, Alresford Station and Twyford Waterworks








Updated 26 December 2011          E&OE.  Nothing contained in this website constitutes a legal contract or guarantees availability.