Historic Transport Club
5th Kingsbridge Bus Running Day
The 5th Kingsbridge Bus running day took place on Saturday September 15th, the event is organised by the Thames Valley & Great Western Omnibus Trust and your Editor was at Kingsbridge Bus Station for the start at 10.0 a.m. It was already well fulled with members of the public who no doubt were all looking forward to seeing the 33 busses and coaches which had been entered for the event. As far as I could tell the majority of which attended. Our grateful thanks must be extended to the organisers and all the helpers who turned up on the day and, of course, all those whi entered their vehicles, without whom these events could not take place. Thanks must also be extended to the sponsors (tallyho holidays, Classic Cottages, Francis Clark accountants, First Bus and Plymouth Citybus) This type of event would be almost impossible to put on without their backing.
Your editor and Sue arrived at Kingsbridge bus Station just prior to 10.0 a.m. and it was already full of enthusiasts, many queueing for a ride on the 1929 Leyland Lioness, consulting the excellent programme produced by TV&GWOT we decided that our first trip would be on the 1939 Bristol L5G / Beadle B35R, single decker, registration DOD518 about to leave for Thurlestone. We quickly boarded and the bus set off. This vehicle was new to Western National 333 and origionally built with a B31R body. It was rebodied in 1950 with the Beadle B35R body that it now carries. It spent most of its working lufe in Plymouth, ending up as a mess room in Launceston from 1961 to 1971. 333 was based at Kingsbridge depot from May to October in 1959. This bus has now been in preservation for some 40 years and was entered by Andrew Higgs on behalf of the 333 bus group of Cheltenham.
On arrival back in Kingsbridge we found there was a 1956 Leyland Titan PD2/12 /Metro-Cammell 030/26R, registration MCO658 about to leave for Slapton Sands and Village. This was originally supplied to Plymouth Citybus as a closed double decker (Fleet No,.58) but due to suffering severe roof damage it was converted into an open top in 1961. Named "Sir Francis Drake" and re-numbered 358 it could be found for many years on Plymouth city sightseeing tours - it was retained by Citybus and is now used for special occasions. This second trip was from Kingsbridge to Stapton Village via Torcross and along Slapton Sands, turning left for the Village close to the American War Memorial, errected in memory of the American troops who were stationed here prior to the Normandy landings many of whom were lost in a German "E" Boat raid. Travelling on the top deck on a beautiful sunny and warm morning and taking in the super views was a joy to behold. This route (93) is still operated by First Bus, usually with Double Deckers, from Dartmouth to Kingsbridge and vise versa with regular services throughout the day and we would strongly recommend anyone to make the trip, it is so much more enjoyable that travelling the route in a car.
Ckecking on the time we found that we could fit in another run prior to everything coming to a standstill for the Round Britain Cycle Race which was due through the town around lunchtime. The pretty little hamlet of Goverton is situated just a few miles out of Kingsbridge along some very narrow lanes. A single decker had been scheduled for this route, namely a 1962 Bristol SUL / ECW B36F, registration 811BWR. This was entered by Trevor Leach of Keighley in Yorkshire and driven down for the event and it would also attend the following day at Exeter Showground. This bus was new to the West Yorkshire Road Car Company and ran from Malton and York depots, being withdrawn from service in 1972 and sold to Wolfreton School in Hull. It was subsequently sold on to BP Chemicals at Saltend Refinery and used on internal transport around the works. It was placed in preservation by BP in 1983 and kept at Sandtoft Trollybus Museum and acquired by its present owner in 1993. Considerable restoration work has been carried out since this time and the bus is now tested to full PSV standard. The Bristol SU has its origins in the late 1950s when the Company developed a lightweight underfloor engined chassis based on the Albion Nimbus. It was intended mainly for use on country services along narrow roads. Initial production in 1960/61 was for the Western & Southern National Companies and indeed most SU`s were constructed for these firms. West Yorkshire was the first Company other than the above to order this model and the first batch of six to which this vehicle belongs was delivered in 1962. These six SUL4A buses were the only ones to be built that year and they introduced the cream window rubbers and flourescent lighting to this type. 811BWR entered service as SMA5 on November 1st 1962. The trip to Goverton was very enjoyable along the winding and narrow country lanes, we stopped for a photo call in the centre of the hamlet as can be seen and then returned to Kingsbridge bus station. A lovely little bus which I would be very happy to own.
We now decided to watch the cycle race as it was about to arrive, plenty of Police motor cycle outriders (I did`nt know we had so many!) the cyclists flashed by in a few seconds. It was now time to have some lunch and keep up our strength for the afternoon.
After lunch we decided on a short run out to the old wartime RAF airfield at Hope Cove.. This was being done with a Bristol LH6L / Marshall C39F, registration BDV318L, a Royal Blue coach acquired for tours on Dartmoor where its 7ft 6 inch width was ideal. It was later downgraded to local bus use and ended its service life in Camborne in 1956. It was purchased by Willis of Bodmin and entered preservation on 1999. It was entered in the running day by Roger Pinder of Redruth, Cornwall. This turned out to be an exciting journey all due to taking the wrong turning in the centre of Marlborough we ended up down in Hope Cove whereas we should have been high up on the headland above. Undaunted, the driver carried on along an ever narrowing lane, with sharp corners and steep gradients, we met a number of motor cars coming in the opposite direction who were I think pretty surprised to meet a Royal Blue! From the comments of our driver I think he was really enjoying the experience and needless to say we got through and subsequently back into Marlborough (we never got to the airfield) arriving back in Kingsbridge somewhat behind schedule.
Four excellent trips under our belt and the afternoon rapidly progressing we looked to see if another run could be fitted in. Consulting the programme at 3.45 p.m. there was a 1950 Leyland PS1/1 with Weymann B35F Body leaving for California Cross. This particular vehicle, registration LFM302 entered service with Crosville Motor Services and was given a fleet number KA226. It was the first vehicle in the Quantock Motor Services (Bishops Lydeard) heritage fleet. It was entered for this event by Stephen Mottis of Wiveliscombe. This was a pleasant round trip of about 50 minutes. On leaving the bus station we travelled upKingsbridge High Street, climbing most of the time up to Sorley Cross and then dropping down into the valley, we then took a right turn, travelling along the lane with the river on our left to the site of the old Loddiswell railway station, this being on the branch line from South Brent to Kingsbridge. We turned at this point and travelled back along the lane to the main Sorley/Loddiswell road, turned right, passed over the river and on up the hill through the pretty little village, on out the other side and so to California Cross. Here the bus was turned around and we returned to Kingsbridge along the same route. By now it was around 4.20 p.m. and the days events were winding down but the weather was still warm and sunny.
All together an absolutely splended day out and we are already looking forward to doing it all again next year - if you love busses you should really try and make 2013.