Convoy with a message

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Preserved buses and coaches were in action across Bedfordshire recently on an event to spread a message, reports Nick Larkin

To show support for workers in the bus industry, as well as allow vehicles which haven’t moved all season to stretch their legs, a road run was organised in Bedfordshire. “As well as giving the vehicles which have been stuck in sheds this year an airing, we want to pledge support for the bus industry and its workers,” said Bedfordshire Classic Bus Road Run organiser Steve Kirk. “The event went really well and thanks so much to everyone who came along.”

The Bedfordshire convoy set off from Raunds, Northants. NICK LARKIN

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Steve’s 1975 Leyland National HTA 944N, new to Western National, headed the line up for the run which included several vehicles owned by people from the bus and coach industry. The procession also covered parts of Cambridgeshire and Northamptonshire after setting off from Raunds, and in best convoy style being joined by other vehicles en route. A total of nine PCVs took part, being joined by two fire engines and for some of the journey, a 1980s Volkswagen Jetta!

Bedford YLQ owner Dave Battersby. NICK LARKIN

Making a return to the road was H303 CAV, a 1990 Volvo B10M-50 Citybus part-owned by Connexions Buses driver Stephen Longmire. This was withdrawn by Whippet in 2017 after 27 years of service, passing to a dealer as part of a batch of Whippet vehicles, but with approval from the operator was acquired for preservation.

It now forms part of the Eastern Bus Enthusiasts (EBE) Collection and has recently been treated to a new front dome, some attention to the body framing and a partial repaint. The Citybus was reunited with its old haunts in Huntingdon on a special trip after the road run.

Also in the convoy was cover star from last week’s CBW, Paul Webb’s new to Wallace Arnold Van Hool-bodied Volvo B10M P306 VWR.

This coach and its owner indirectly led to a further Van Hool B10M being acquired for preservation and attracting much attention on the run. New to Sinclair of Greenhead, R901 TUM was acquired by Phil Redman, a driver for Cambridgeshire operator Saffords of Great Gransden.

“I got to know Paul and was very impressed by the standard of his B10M,” Phil explained. When he told me that R901 TUM was for sale we went to see it at Rayners in County Durham, and I’ve never looked back!” Phil is thinking of keeping the coach in its present Tyrers of Chorley livery. “It looks really good,” he said.

Engineer with Uno Martin Macey bought along his 2001 London United Dennis Dart SLF, SN51 TCX. “This bus was latterly operated by Uno, and I didn’t manage to get one of the similar Darts they had new,” he explained.

Former driver with United Counties and then Luton & District, later Arriva, Dave Battersby had an unusual reason for acquiring his 1978 Bedford YLQ GCK 279S. “It’s all in the name,” he said. “At one point the coach ran for Battersby Silver Grey Coaches in Lancashire.”

Participants also included magnificent 1956 Park Royal-bodied new to Maidstone & District AEC Regent V VKR 39, and new in preservation, new to Hampshire Bus Alexander-bodied Leyland Olympian F604 MSL, latterly with Dons Coaches of Dunmow, Essex. “I’d always wanted a Gardner-engined Olympian,” explained owner Daniel Money.

Places covered by the convoy included Raunds, Kimbolton, St Neots, Sandy and Woburn before it finished at Bedford Bus Station.