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Coaches queue for the driving tests on the Saturday, with the trade area beyond and above. JONATHAN WELCH

Jonathan Welch takes a walk around the 68th UK Coach Rally, held in Blackpool on 13 and 14 April

April can only mean one thing in the coaching calendar: the UK Coach Rally. Now in its 68th year, the event has called Blackpool home for a number of years now, having started in Clacton and spent most of its life at Brighton, with forays to Southampton, Alton Towers and Peterborough. Always popular, this year’s event attracted 44 entries from around the country, with a strong Welsh contingent and a handful from Scotland competing against a large number of English operators.

This year’s event was held over the weekend of 13 and 14 April, with a road run and the first round of driving tests held on the Saturday, and the second round of driving tests, plus concours d’élégance competition judging, on the Sunday. A themed ‘beach party’ evening was also held on Saturday night for those who wished to attend.

The event was, as always, one of positivity and pride, with many smartly-dressed drivers and supporting staff proudly showing off their coaches, many of which were new, some of which had a few miles under their belt already, and a couple of which were design classics; a Plaxton Supreme IV on a Volvo B58 once owned by event stalwart Cyril Kenzie, and a more modern Jonkheere-bodied Volvo B12R belonging to Paul S Winson.

Lothian’s SJ73 HWL makes its way through the driving tests. JONATHAN WELCH

A difficult task

As in previous years, CBW was among those invited to take part in the judging, and myself and an industry colleague spent a good (if windswept) few hours wandering around the amassed fleet looking at some of the finer details related to external presentation; the application of graphics, clarity and overall appearance and style. It was, of course, a difficult task. We were pleased to be able to report that no one scored anything below par. Indeed, it was difficult to distinguish some from others, especially once personal taste and preference was set aside in favour of more objective review.


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