Sunday, 13 August 2017

Norwich Bus Bash Report

The rain stayed away, the sun shone but not too harshly, and the public turned up in their droves. Thus was the first Norwich Bus Bash a success, and hopefully raised an impressive amount for East Anglian Children's Hospice.

Sometimes when your as involved as I am with the industry, albeit now as a former insider observing from the outside, it's all too easy to be super critical, to want perfection, to yearn for what isn't there rather than appreciating what is, and today was a classic occasion for doing just that. So I'm going to try and be a member of the public, and not an enthusiast. I understand on social media many enthusiasts have suggested how things could have been better, but in all honesty today wasn't for enthusiasts but for non enthusiasts, young and old, particularly young to enjoy riding on old buses, getting a pic of them in the cab of a bus, going through a bus wash etc. I only saw smiles and happy faces so job done!

As usual all the familiar faces were there, most of them friendly, I went with Tim, and on our arrival were met by Take That Superfan Sam Larke of Norwich Buses Blog, with Jamie Glasspoole, and First Eastern Counties Operations Director/Manager/Driver Chris Speed (should have seen his face when someone asked if he was a driver), whose brainchild today's event was. Most of the city centre shuttle buses were operated by the usual suspects, one of which I understand didn't last the pace and failed early on, but I will keep its identity anonymous. But there were some welcome visitors, and due to the higher than expected attendance some of First's own vehicles were pressed into action.

Our first trip was on Eastern Counties' last Greenway National. The Gardner engine boomed out and gave a pleasant ride, although it must be said it didn't enjoy the steep hill towards the end of the trip.

LG587 WAH 587S
A variety of First vehicles were in attendance, including Lowestoft Heritage liveried 8, Ipswich's Eastern Counties liveried VA479, recently named "Jim Long", X1 E400 33824, and the still striking E400 from Yarmouth, 33423.

Lowestoft 8 at Roundtree Way

33824 was a static display

33423 in need of a little TLC

Jim Long there in spirit, and in person!
The next trip was on an old friend. Great Yarmouth Transport AEC Swift WEX 685M was reunited with former owner Chris Speed, and operated a couple of trips. A lovely bus, and Chris was clearly chuffed to bits to be driving her again.

Swift 85 reunited with its old dad!
 Hungry work too, as it didn't take Chris and best mate Grahame Bessey of East Norfolk Bus Blog long to get back up to the city joining Tim and myself for lunch. A really good time spent chewing the cud as well as burgers, catching up on the latest news and gossip.

Chris and Grahame went back to Roundtree Way on the Greenway, while Tim and I waited for my main target of the day, Viv Carter's immaculately restored Bristol VR  VEX 294X. It looks simply majestic, sounds as awesome as a Class 37 loco, and gives a ride totally devoid of background noise. I was taken back 35 years in a instant. It was best in show by a country mile and worth the trip to Norwich on its own. Here it is in Castle Meadow

Magnificence! Bristol VR VEX 294X
A bus making its first pulic appearance in new colours was Norwich Volvo B7l 60916, now renamed VW916 (still a Volvo not a VW). Repainted into Eastern Counties Livery and, praise be, re-padded seats it looked very good. I don't know if the rattles have been sorted but I presume not!

VW916 YG02 DKU at Roundtree Way
The workshops were also partially open, and inside was ex Ipswich B7rle 66981, halfway through being repainted into Red Line livery.

66981 being "Redied" up.
There was also the chance to see all of Norwich Network's different colours lined up together for the first time. Sadly not in rainbow order but even so an impressive sight.

So impressive one small boy wanted his photo taken in a driving cab.....

Tim's Mum would be so proud!
And the day was done. Nothing reaches its peak first time round, and I hope this is the first of many Norwich Bus Bashes. What I will say is if you are going to open a depot up it needs to be all or nothing. I know Roundtree Way is operational 7 days a week but so are most depots. The engineering staff in particular seemed to resent the public's presence, and that was a shame. Having most of the other buses parked facing away from the public area was also noted, and it rather showed up less than universal co-operation in making today happen. I hope next year's date is set much earlier, so all departments can come together and work towards making the second Norwich Bus Bash even more of a success than today's was.

Kudos to Chris for making today happen, thanks to those who brought their buses and above all to the public for supporting the event in their hundreds. Good to see all the friends I did, sorry to miss those I didn't see, especially Clive, and catch you all soon.

Tuesday, 8 August 2017

Norwich Bus Bash

This Sunday sees the inaugural  Norwich Bus Bash organised by First Eastern Counties. The new extended Roundtree Way depot will be opening its doors to the public, including the long awaited "rainbow" line up of all the different coloured routes. you can take a trip through the bus wash, sit in a driver's cab, inspect the workshops and more.

There are frequent free bus trips around the City, including County Hall where you can park, as parking at Roundtree Way is severely limited. My thanks to Chris Speed for the info, and hope to see many of you there.


Due to Norwich City re-arranging their home match against Sunderland to Sunday the plan to serve County Hall has had to be scrapped. Apologies for the false information but I've only just found out. This is also the reason buses to/from Roundtree Way can't serve the Rail Station.

Thursday, 3 August 2017

A Piece Of Konect Humble Pie

A spot of Short Set chasing today,of which more later, but this time I did it by bus, leaving the car at Wangford and catching the 146 into Norwich. Have to say BB60 BUS is in pretty good nick for its type (E200) and age, even though the unusually strong wind threatened to low in the doors at one point. On arrival at Norwich I caught the 5, operated by Konect to Thorpe, and very soon realised i was going to have to eat some words. The 65 plate E400 was immaculate. Clean, quiet, WiFi worked well, and above all not a single rattle. In fact a joy to travel on. Since I'm the first to criticise E400's in rough conditions I had to mention this.

Konect 636 SN65 OAV in St Stephen's St
 After I had completed my Short Set photography and enjyoed an excellent lunch at the Town House in Thorpe I caught another Konect E400 back into the City, this time older 606 SN61 CZW. Again, for its age the condition was remarkable. Yes the blind box door rattled but that was about it. So, not for the only time in this post, well done Konect. Keeping E400's in that condition takes some doing so congratulations to the engineering team. 

I had gone to Thorpe to try and capture the Class 37 Short Set in new locations, especially while the blue and grey (faded white) coaches are still on it. Thorpe provided a couple of locations, the first being the footbridge over the railway to Thorpe lakes. A short wait and the familar rumble was heard, and 37419 appeared.

37419 with the set, having just passed Whitlingham Jct
Here is the full video.

I then moved a couple of hundred yards up the line where there is a gate crossing to Thorpe Sailing Club. Crossing to the Club side I waited and thanks to the strong wind heard the set accelerate from Crown Point  Another good angle and shot of the set ensued, with a smoking 37405 leading the way.

37405 with the blue/grey set
Here is the full video with the 37 pleasingly drowning out the crossing alarm.

Now back to Konect. It is normally very difficult for those under 21 to get a bus driving job for insurance reasons. So when I was chatting to a couple of Konect drivers in St Stephen's St another driver came up who I thought I vaguely recognised. A smiling, jovial young man who was clearly content with life. It was only as he departed to take over his bus I got a glimpse of his name badge. I had known this particular person was driving for Konect but truly didn't realise it was him.

Kieran Smith spent a period of time running the very successful Norwich Buses Blog, and it's fair to say we didn't get on. I mean seriously didn't get on. No one was really at fault, he was obsessed with his blog and I know I was obsessed with mine - so much so it nearly cost me very dear. I don't know how much I've changed since then but seeing Kieran today was like meeting someone for the first time. He has come out of his shell, is clearly living his dream driving for Konect, and any history between us is precisely that. Kieran had already supported me by email over the troubles I had with my anonymous abuser, which I was extremely touched by, but to see this outgoing, joking, happy person was something else. Kieran it was great to meet you, and I'll be over next week to assess your driving skills! But more than that huge credit needs to go to Steve Royal at Konect for giving Kieran the chance at an age the vast majority of companies wouldn't. I could hear the gratitude in his voice, and see the sparkle in his eyes. Top marks, Konect, top marks.

Wednesday, 26 July 2017

News, News & More News

First of all can I thank everyone who contributed to the discussions following last week's news post. The most comments ever for a post and all of them polite, even when disagreeing. It was a joy to watch them all come in and read them prior to publishing. Some valid points made from all sides of many arguments.

So it's only right that I start today's post with news relating to a fair chunk of those comments, Ipswich Buses. Quite a few people mentioned IB's fleet, the ex Carters fleet in particular, someone even saying he had heard they were going to be replaced with Scanias. Well it turns out he was right, and then some. I was informed today that Ipswich Buses are getting fourteen 61 plate ex London Scanias. I don't know full details yet, but obviously 14 buses will cover far more than the ex Carters fleet. What remains to be seen is what IB will be doing with them. I assume, like the Borderbus Scanias they will be converted to single door, and I can only hope for the sake of the passengers on the 93 to Colchester, that they have padding put in the seats. IB are normally pretty good with their choice of seats, so if anyone within IB reading this can confirm I'll be grateful. When I get more details obviously I'll publish them.

It turns out all my Star Trek references to the BCI First trialed on the X1 were wrong. The tri axle version, which First are due to trial in August is the Enterprise, the two axle version being the Excellence, which has got to be the most risky name for a bus ever, and asking for trouble! Anyway, a closely guarded secret was that Borderbus, never shy of trying out a demonstrator, were getting one this week, and it duly arrived yesterday when I was in Sussex! So this morning I was over the depot pretty early (for me) only to discover it was already out on the road. A quick chat with everyone, of which more later, and I rendezvoused with the Excellence at Kessingland.

Ensignbus BCI Excellence 144 LX17 DZE at Wangford
 I was hoping the vehicle Borderbus were given was a different one to that First had, and so it was. This meant I could compare the two. I was also lucky enough to have a vastly experienced driver of 37 years driving and instructing who has torn the other demonstrators to bits, so I knew he would pull no punches. Exactly what I needed as it's ok for me to say what a great bus, no rattles blah blah but the most important person on board is the driver (certainly was when I was driving) and what they think matters. Jed thought for a moment when I asked him what his initial opinion was, then said "I wouldn't mind a fleet of them". That is high praise indeed, and I have to say the ride impressed me once again. The pot holed roads between Wangford and Southwold can shake you to bits on an E200, but the Excellence glided over them as if they weren't there. Good stuff. On arrival at Southwold Jed took me through the points he'd noted that he thought could be improved.

The bright upper deck of the Excellence
Firstly the handbrake. A very minor point, but on most buses you put the hand brake on, then have to lift the neck up to release it. On the Excellence you have to lift the neck up to engage it too, and that takes some getting use to. The interior mirror is far too big for it's position, and actually creates a blind spot out of the windscreen. Jed thought positioning the mirror higher above the windscreen would make things easier.

The enormous  interior mirror
Only half the cab window opens - the rear half - which makes adjusting the offside wing mirror awkward. Jed isn't a short chap by any means and he had trouble. Allowing the front half to open too would solve that problem.

His biggest gripe though was the bell, which was exactly the same noise as the indicators  That is very confusing if the bell is pressed while indicating. I was convinced the example First had, had a normal bell, and Cameron, who was with me on it, has confirmed that. That really needs to be changed, as it will confuse passengers too..

The only other problem Jed had was with the low ceilings. For a 14'6 bus the ceilings do seem low, and neither of us could work out why, unless it's not 14'6 of course!

But one thing Jed was impressed with was the positioning of the hazard warning lights switch - on the end of the indicator stalk.

Original placing of hazard warning lights
Believe me if that's all Jed could find to criticise then we have a very, very good bus. He said the braking was extremely good, and acceleration matched an E200, yes 200. It felt solid, and the more he drove it the more he liked it. I must mention the interior lights, that come on very slowly but have a trick. The lights above the door and luggage rack are blue to reduce reflection in the windscreen, but as the doors open they change to white, then back to blue when the doors close. Very well thought out that.

Oh just one more thing - the wheelchair arm is positively lethal! It seems to stick out further into the gangway than others and the height of it is such if someone was thrown forward, especially a male, then any future prospects of fatherhood could be seriously impaired. I'll try and get a pic while the Excellence is here, and no one knows how long that will be, could be a week, could be all Summer!

So in conclusion overall I was just as impressed with the Exellence second time round as I was first time, and just those small details to sort out. Do that, and BCI might be tempted to change the name from Excellence to Perfection!

The rear
While I was at Borderbus I had a chat with supremo Andrew Pursey who confirmed Borderbus are making no service alterations this Autumn. The 146 is growing patronage steadily, and it wouldn't surprise me if by this time next year some of the E200's are gone and replaced with deckers. In a world of cuts it's so good to see a route bucking the trend. There is also a big waiting list for the Sir John Leman High School buses, with some 650 pupils a day conveyed to and from the school.

So from the Excellence to the anything but excellence. Passing Lowestoft Station I spotted ex Norwich Volvo B7l 66348 on the X22, the only bus with harder seats than those Scanias! A hastily taken pic while at traffic lights but rather pleased I hadn't travelled from Norwich on that. I'm told by Grahame Bessey that it is probably on loan from Great Yarmouth to cover Dart 42908 which is away for repaint. Even stranger was seeing a Gemini on the Town Service 106, so why the rattlebucket was on the X22 is anyone's guess.

66348 at Lowestoft Station on the X22
 Last week I promised news on the Class 37 hauled Short Set running between Norwich and Great Yarmouth/Lowestoft, and here it is. The DRS coaches have been temporarily replaced with 3 blue/grey (It's blooming white not grey) coaches making the set look even more retro. I was going to take pics tomorrow, but Tim rang me to say he was at Lowestoft Station so it seemed rude not to return and see it today. And what a sight. Could have been any day in the last 40 years. Long may they stay on the set, and we now need 2 large logo locos (say that after a few sherberts) to put the icing on the cake. It was also good to meet Martin from East Suffolk Lines Rail Partnership. Always good to put a face to a name, especially when they turn out to be a friendly, chatty face!

37422 leads in the new coaches

Bet most of the pax don't realise how lucky they are!
I think the next picture sums it all up. We are truly blessed to have this set in our area, and the memories of those of us of a certain vintage are triggered and re-triggered day after day. What a huge hole will be left when they are gone.

Guess the year anyone?
Yes of course there's a video! Enjoy, and I look forward to all the comments rolling in!

Friday, 21 July 2017

England Comes To Southwold

Well the England Football Team Coach anyway. I was on my regular weekly trip to Southwold to meet up with a mate, and while I was there a huge grey Scania Iriza i6 arrived emblazoned with the 3 Lions badge and England. Can't be the real thing, I thought, looking at who was disembarking - if it was the England team it was the 1937 team with their WAGS! But a glance at the registration - FA15 ENG and a chat with the driver confirmed that yes, this was the real McCoy.

The England Team coach at Southwold
Operated by Guideline Coaches of Chelsfield, near Orpington in Kent this coach isn't quite as flash inside as I expected. The driver explained the tables had been removed as England have so many backroom staff now it needs to be a 52 seater. The seats do look rather nice though it must be said!

Inteior of the coach
The coach's presence soon got around and many young boys, ok and dads, were soon streaming up to have selfies taken with this celebrity coach, the E200 I was on completely ignored for some strange reason. It was good to see a celebrity vehicle in the area, and many thanks to the friendly driver for letting me take a look. Here are a few more pictures.

Thursday, 20 July 2017

General Round Up

This is the traditionally quiet time of the year when not much happens, so there hasn't been anything worthy of a full post. So here are a few snippets of news.

Firstly it looks as though a new round of bus cuts is on the way, which is most definitely not good news. Beestons ae withdrawing the Sudbury - Great Cornard circular and reducing the frequency of their 91 Sudbury - Ipswich service, which I find astonishing as whenever I've used the 91 it's been very well patronised.

Sanders are also cancelling several services, although most seem to be Sheringham - Holt services, which will continue to be served by other services. The 33 North Walsham - Cromer will be operated by Our Hire, so I assume that is a tender changing hands. No details on either operator's website yet so I'll give more details when they are available.

Speaking of Beestons they have got their new 86 seater ADL E400 MMC  SN17 MTK out on the road. The bad news is it's for Two Sisters contract/private hire work only so trying it out will prove tricky. My thanks to Dave at Beestons, though, for sending me a pic of this, erm beest! Dave also informs me another one is expected early next year.

Beestons new E400MMC
First Ipswich buses are appearing everywhere, or should I say ex First Ipswich buses are appearing everywhere. Volvo B7rle 66850, which had been at Lowestoft has now had Network Norwich vinyls applied and is covering a poorly Streetlite on the Charcoal line 40 to Poringland.  In the meantime sisters 66979/81 have been working in Yarmouth still with Ipswich vinyls, before apparently heading to Norwich to be painted into Red Line colours. I'm grateful to Cameron for sending me this pic of 66979 on the 1 to Lowestoft yesterday.

66979 on the 1 to Lowestoft.        pic (c) Cameron Robinson
Now something a little more serious. There is a rogue Twitter account spouting absolute bovine muck relating to First Norwich. @NetworkNorwich3 is the account calling itself 5 Series 23RedLine24. Not only does it headline old news as current, but it also makes false claims about who operates what. Hee is an example.

You can see how false and misleading this is. If anyone knows who is behind this account please let me know- anonymously if you like - so he/she can be stopped and dealt with. Thanks.

I managed a ride on one of Borderbus's newly acquired ex Stagecoach London Scania Omni Citi deckers last week. As I expected a decent ride, not many rattles, copious legroom upstairs but dear God the seats. I lasted half hour before my backside said enough. The sooner those seats are introduced to padding the better. Have to say though it did look good in Beccles.

Former Stagecoach Scania LX59 CNJ in Beccles
Now something I was hoping for but didn't think I'd see. Due to recurring faults on the coaches on the Class 37 short set they are being replaced, temporarily I presume with 3 blue/grey coaches meaning that superb working museum piece will look utterly authentic. I understand the swap is taking place over the weekend so look out early next week for the first pics. Now all we need, if anyone in DRS happens to be reading this, are 2 large BR logo 37's to go on the set to really complete the look. Come on - it can be done!

You will remember I had a pretty ghastly experience at Euston a few weeks ago courtesy of London Midland's non existent customer service. As promised I have been following up my complaint, and after a letter addressing the wrong complaint (they guessed) I finally got an email 3 weeks after sending in the complaint that they couldn't open the attachment so actually had no idea what the complaint was about. Negotiations are on going as they say but the way things are going I won't accept anything less than my own train!! It's a Go Ahead company btw.

Which brings me nicely onto Anglian. It has been decided to turn the Ellough site in Beccles into an out station, Go Ahead claiming that a PVR of 18 doesn't justify full depot status. As I understand it the offices and workshops are being mothballed, all management and admin are relocating to eithe Dereham or Norwich, and only two leading drivers, cleaners and a portakabin will remain at Beccles. Money will be paid in at Norwich, though how the 60H/S/61 drives are meant to do that is anyone's guess, and if a bulb needs replacing for example a van will be based at Norwich to speed to te assistance. All other maintenance will be carried out at either Konect or Hedngham. The company insist, though that Anglian is not closing.

Right that's it! See you soon.

Wednesday, 12 July 2017

3 Scanas Arrive At Borderbus

I have known for sometime that Borderbus were getting 3 ex Stagecoach London Scania Omni Citi deckers for their Beccles operation. I have known for an equally long tie that they were hoping to get 3 of them to help with Latitude duties this weekend. What nobody really knew was if the 3 permanent Scanias would also be the 3 Scanias used on Latitude. Today the trio arrived at Beccles, bizarrely displaying destinations for the 521. I popped up to the depot to find out what was going on.

The 3 new arrivals at Borderbus Towers
The 3 in question are LX59 CNC/E/J, formerly Stagecoach 15138/9/41. I can confirm they are the 3 purchased by Borderbus to replace the 3 Volvo B7tl Geminis. After latitude they will go, one at a time for conversion to one door and painting. The seats will be introduced to foam padding, 6 extra seats fitted downstairs but the top deck will remain the same, the cost of adding a row of seats rather expensive for what it would achieve. So the extensive legroom will stay.

LX59 CNE/J, with one showing a destination never to be seen again!
One of the Geminis has already departed. 210 LF52 ZPC has gone to Scania for resale. 209 will follow after the first conversion has returned, with 208 remaining until the last Scania has been converted, although it will revert to its original registration, with BB03 BUS being used elsewhere.

The rear of the two
I must say te destination and number screens look good, although they will certainly look very different in Borde4bus colours.

My thanks to Andrew and Dave for putting up with me in what I know is a very busy week for them, and I look forward to the first one coming back. In the meantime I'll be sampling one of them on Latitude's Southwold shuttle on Friday.

Monday, 10 July 2017

Eastern Coach Works Closure 30th Anniversary Event

You must have realised by now I am not one for static displays. I like motion, I like sound. If something has been designed to move with a recognisable sound I want to see and hear it. Therefore as I set out Sunday morning to meet up with Tim in Beccles before attending the 30th Anniversary of the closure of Eastern Coach Works Event at East Anglia Transport Museum in Carlton Colville, I was not in a particularly optimistic mood. I had seen a few pictures from the previous day and honestly believed I'd be there for a couple of hours, get bored silly, and be home by mid afternoon. How wrong I was, and I'm delighted to say this post will be much, much longer than I anticipated.

I don't attend these events for the buses. I attend them to meet up with friends, to see people I only see at these events, and to have a good gossip. However, on this occasion the buses were important. I grew up with Bristols, Bristols and yet more Bristols. I have driven Bristols, ridden Bristols, been taken to school on Bristols, chatted to driver mates on Bristols, and they were as ubiquitous in my life then as Geminis or E400's are today. And all were bodied by the good folk in Lowestoft, at the Eastern Coach Works. Of course they were bodying buses long before the VR came along, but it is the Bristol VR I associate ECW with the most, and the Bristol VR I wanted to see, and more importantly ride at the event.

It seems the bus Gods were hearing me as round the corner on the free shuttle to the museum came Bristol VR OCK 985K, new to Ribble in 1972 before transferring to Eastern Counties in 1985. In 1996 it was withdrawn after 24 years in service and acquired by the Transport Museum. I actually like the fact it isn't in pristine condition - it looks like it did when it finsihed service and that's good as it is how they looked when I was catching them. It makes a change from something you are afraid to breathe too heavily on. No rattles, a lovely growly Gardner engine, and it did not feel 45 years old. In fact it felt a darn sight better than most new buses on the road today.

Bristol VR OGK 385K at Beccles
We got to the museum and just took in the atmosphere, chatting to Andy and Richard on the gate, and admiring the impressive number of  people attending the event. Many of them arrived on the Park & Ride service, operated by First, and with the most appropriate bus in the fleet. Andy Swan swears this was his idea so I'm giving him the credit. Volvo B9tl 37572 AU58 ECW was used, and I thought that was a great idea which added a nice touch to proceedings.

37572 unloading at the museum
Our next ride was on a visitor from Yorkshire. Bristol Lodekka NWU 265D. Built in 1966 it served the good public of Yorkshire before becoming a training vehicle and finally preserved in 1990. Again a really nice journey, and I began to appreciate just how good the body builders of Lowestoft were.

Bristol Lodekka NMU 265D at Lowestoft Station
We left the Lodekka there to get a spot of lunch, which proved a wise decision as sadly the Lodekka broke down on the way back to the museum. It proved to be an even better decision as something rather special came round the corner to take us back to the museum after lunch.

Bristol L5G KNG 711
KNG 711 is a 1960 Bristol L5G, new to Eastern Counties as LL 711. I'm not normally that enthusiastic over anything that predates my memories but there are exceptions to everything and this is one. You could actually feel as though you were in the 1950's on this rickety little 35 seater. Displayed at the front was a poster advertising a daily coach service to London at the price of 17 shillings and sixpence for a day return. I'm guessing you didn't get much time in London. Book early on Megabus and it doesn't cost much more than that these days!

Vintage poster on LL 711
Another trip round Lowestoft on the earlier VR in the company of Norwich Buses Blog supremo Sam Larke, and the ever pleasant Jamie Glasspoole, and things really looked up. Another long distance visitor was open top former Southern Vectis Bristol VR, FDL 681V, looking superb in its Island Breezers livery.

Add caption
This bus is in superb condition. The only noise to be heard was the iconic engine (and nearside front spring according to the pleasant young driver). Open top buses are always pretty cool anyway but when it evokes such memories too it's a double bonus. Oh - I was right - those staircases were a lot easier than modern ones. No idea why but they were! It was a very enjoyable half hour. When we got back to the museum the driver conveniently parked next to the other VR, making a fine pair of Bristols!

A fine pair of Bristols, Matron!
That was the major box ticked for the day. However a bonus that not even Brucie could have thought up was in store. A replacement was needed for the stricken Lodekka,, and what a replacement we got. New to Eastern National as D510 PPU this ECW Olympian coach has certainly done the rounds, seeing service with Sanders, Lodges of High Easter, Essex, Flagfinders of Essex where it was re-registered PLZ 2876, It then moved onto Tony Glew in Colchester before spending the last few years at Venturer Coachways in Brightwell. With Venturer's demise earlier this year this magnificent bus is now at Our Hire of Acle.

Olympian coach PLZ 2876
This is one of only three full length, low height Olympian coaches built for the UK market with this body, and is strikingly different to the Olympian coaches I knew on Maidstone & District. What isn't different, though, is the quality. The seats are sumptuous and comfortable, and even now it has the feeling of something special about it. It's quiet, non rattly and powerful. Tyson Dundas, of Our Hire, who was driving told me when I asked him if he was going to preserve the coach, that he's intending to use it! So the working life carries on 31 years on! Tyson has also agreed to let me do a special feature on this bus, so look out for that in the coming weeks. It was just a joy to ride it, not, I sincerely hope, for the last time. It's completely wasted on kids, and how ironic that when First are struggling to find a new bus for the X1 we have here a vehicle that would have suited it to the ground 30 years ago.

The Ollie coach on Gunton Cliffs
 And that was about it. A return to Beccles on the adorable Bristol L5G, which cruised along the A146 at 45mph, and a highly enjoyable day was completed, with just one little blot on the landscape.

Where are the other buses that attended I hear you ask. They were on the back field, behind the museum and there were about 15 of them I'm told, although at least 5 of them made an appearance doing runs. It would have cost 9 quid to see them. EATM's brains decided they would be an added extra to their normal tram/trolleybus attractions. I've done them. Great for kids, not fantastic for 51yo's. Why on earth wasn't there a "ground" ticket for the day? I am not going to pay 9 quid to see 15 buses when it only costs a tenner to get into Showbus and around 600 buses! That was a bad move by the committee and I hope they review this for future events. I've heard insurance issues mooted but don't believe that for a second. Many attractions have different price scales depending what you want to do and I'd have happily paid 3 or 4 pound to get access to the buses, cafe, loos etc.

That excepted it was a great day, well attended, vehicles I wasn't expecting to see (and some I was which had nothing whatsoever to do with ECW) and some great chats. My thanks to Tim, Sam, Jamie, Andy, Richard, Thomas, Colin and anyone I may have missed. See you all at Norwich in August.

The Bristol L5G at Beccles