Ensign Running Day success

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Two services used 18 heritage vehicles for the day

Ensignbus ran one of its most successful running days last weekend using 18 vintage vehicles on two routes plus three lower capacity vehicles on shorter services to give more people a chance to experience them.

Ensign’s Steve Newman said: “Most people have an idea what they will be seeing but we always try and introduce some surprises. Five recently restored aditions to the heritage collection include an ex-EastKentRoyal Tiger, a pre-war ex-Southdown Harrington-bodied Tiger TS7 and a very special former Greenline 10 T 10 which we brought back fromAustralia.

“The 10 T 10 we just couldn’t get finished in time if we were to run it at the weekend in its original livery. We sprayed it in grey undercoat and put the livery of the Red Cross on them – just as they were painted when the American forces s had taken some to use for moving injured troops around. Now some people are saying we should keep the Red Cross livery – but it wasn’t our original plan.”

Vintage buses operated on the X55 from Upminster into Lakeside, Bluewater and Gravesend– a journey taking an hour and 20 minutes each way. The X81 route ran from Shenfield to Brentwood,Lakesideand Grays. Being completely outside the LEZ it allowed the use of some of the more recently retired ex-London vehicles.

Steve said: “Other newcomers included an RTW which Leon Daniels and Sir Peter Hendy found in France and we had it brought back home.Leonturned up to drive it on the day. He also had a go in the 10 T 10 and one of the smaller coaches. The real surprise entry for many was the ex-Southend Transport Jumbo Fleetline which no-one knew we had.

“The running day is our final event each year. We like to give the heritage vehicles a good shakedown run before they are put away for the winter. It identifies anything which might need attention.

“The event this year was so popular we almost ran out of tickets. While we often get the odd visitor come from across the Channel or fly down from Scotland especially for the event we broke the record this year. The former driver of our Cravens bodied RT was employed by London Brick Company – which had bought a number of them to use as staff transport. He is now 85 years old and his family brought him along to have a ride in his old bus. His son flew all the way back from Australia to be here with him and share the moment – we’re pretty sure it’s the furthest anyone has travelled to be at an Ensignbus running day. We had lots of photos taken and even managed to get him safely into the cab. We also presented him with a bonnet plate from one of these buses which we’d had polished-up specially.”