Arriva Southern Counties launches Charles Dickens bus

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The Dennis Dart previously adorned a gold livery to celebrate the success of local athlete Lizue Yarnold at the 2014 Winter Olympics
The Dennis Dart previously adorned a gold livery to celebrate the success of local athlete Lizzie Yarnold at the 2014 Winter Olympics

Arriva Southern Counties is running an autumn tourist bus for Medway Council focussed on places around the Rochester area which were so loved by author Charles Dickens.

The gold and purple Dennis Dart bus took to the road on Saturday, November 15 and will run twice daily on Saturdays and Sundays until December 21, but once a day over the weekend of the Christmas Dickensian Festival. The bus previously wore a gold livery to celebrate local Olympian Lizzie Yarnold’s success at the 2014 Winter Olympics. The inside of the bus features depictions of characters from Dickens’ novels and there are quotations from his books on the backs of the seats.

Several Charles Dickens novels were set in and around Rochester and he ended his days at Gads Hill Place, Higham, now a private school.

The £10 fare for the tour (£7.50 for children and concessions) includes a wine and mince pie reception at the Guildhall Museum before the tour sets off.

Dickens’ association with Rochester is celebrated throughout the area in a variety of ways and the twice-yearly Dickensian Festivals have, for many years, drawn visitors in their thousands from a very wide catchment area. This year’s Christmas festival will take place on December 6 and 7 and Arriva will be providing the festival’s free Park & Ride service.

The Dickens Country Experience tour follows the success over the past two summers of the hourly, seven-days-a-week, ‘Explore Medway’ open-top tour that Arriva has run on behalf of Medway Council.

Arriva’s Regional Publicity Manager, Richard Lewis, said: “Following the success of the Explore Medway tours, we are delighted to work in partnership with Medway Council to provide another interesting tour that explores the area’s history

“The open-top tours featured a commentary by well-known actor Brian Blessed and the new Dickens Experience tours will have live, entertaining commentaries given by actors which we are sure customers will enjoy.”