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 In 1996 it was withdrawn after 24 years in service and acquired by the Transport Museum.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|
|37572 unloading at the museum|
|Bristol Lodekka NMU 265D at Lowestoft Station|
|Bristol L5G KNG 711|
|Vintage poster on LL 711|
|A fine pair of Bristols, Matron!|
|Olympian coach PLZ 2876|
|The Ollie coach on Gunton Cliffs|
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|