History on the road

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A line-up of classic buses at the Castle Fraser steam and vintage vehicle fair. JONATHAN WELCH

Jonathan Welch took to the road behind the wheel of two classic buses recently, as he recounts

Most of the time these days, my time is spent driving a laptop, preparing CBW’s pages ready for our next issue to go to press. But sometimes, I escape from behind the desk and have the pleasure of doing some driving. Anyone who watches our social media feeds might have seen a post from the north west of England a week or two ago as a teaser of one feature to come, but I’ve also been out and about with a couple of other classic vehicles recently, and using my prerogative as Editor, I thought I’d share some of those trips this week.

My first was over the weekend of 15 and 16 June, when I was one of four drivers taking buses to the two-day Castle Fraser steam and vintage vehicle fair near Inverurie in Aberdeenshire. A pleasant 25-minute, 11 mile drive from their base at Alford, the vehicles belonged to the combined fleet of the First Group Heritage Trust and the Aberdeen & District Transport Preservation Trust, collectively housed under the banner of The Bus Collection at Alford at premises shared with the Grampian Transport Museum.

On the road that day were Albion PMA28 RG 1173, Aberdeen Corporation Transport’s bus 79, dating from 1930; Aberdeen Corporation AEC Swift JRS 22F, new in 1968; Grampian Regional Transport 1975 Leyland Leopard HSO 61N; and double-deck Daimler CVG6 CRG 325C, new to Aberdeen Corporation in 1965.


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A second day out saw me step into the 1970s, taking Grampian Leyland National KSO 74P to the RW Thompson Memorial Rally in Stonehaven, Aberdeenshire. The rally honours RW Thompson, who was born in the town in 1822 and is credited with inventing the pneumatic tyre.

As always, the buses at both events drew a lot of interest from visitors old and young, the older ones reminiscing about their memories of travelling by bus, the younger ones excited to find an exhibit they can touch, feel, smell and clamber aboard; for some, maybe even their first time on a bus of any kind.

I’m sure the Trust won’t mind me indulging in the benefit of being the Editor and giving a little plug for its open day, to be held on 4 August at the Grampian Transport Museum in Alford, with bus rides around the local area as well as the museum’s own circuit, on a variety of vehicles. Do pop along and say hello…

Leyland National 74 at the RW Thompson Memorial Rally in Stonehaven, Aberdeenshire. JONATHAN WELCH
The oldest bus, but by no means the oldest vehicle at the event, was 1930 Albion ACT 79. JONATHAN WELCH