New heritage group

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Astons operated this former Volvo B58 demonstrator, which was the first Volvo PSV in the country. New with an Alexander body, it was later rebodied by Van Hool. ASTONS OF KEMPSEY HERITAGE GROUP

A team of former drivers, who worked for a major Worcestershire operator, have set up a group to collect historic material and eventually produce a book.

Astons of Kempsey was established in 1929 by members of the Aston family initially with one vehicle, apparently a coal lorry converted to a charabanc. It was owned by Tony Halford for many years before being bought by Veolia in 2007, but is now back in private ownership. [wlm_nonmember][…]

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Today it has 55 coaches, midi-coaches and minibuses and operates everything from UK and European tours to local bus services.

Spokesman for the Astons of Kempsey Heritage Group, Tony Harris, said: “Astons has had a rich history and we are getting together photographs, ephemera, stories and anecdotes – anything for the book.

Tony worked for the operator from 1975-1984, driving everything from Bedford VALs to AEC Reliances on a variety of duties. “I really enjoyed my time there, but ended up going into the logistic industry,” he said.

Also a group member is Pat Howes, who was Astons’ first woman coach driver when she joined the firm in 1980. “Everyone around here knows Astons,” she said. “We were like a big family.”

The group would particularly like to know the whereabouts of unique new to Leeds City Transport Roe bodied AEC Reliance, ANW710C, which was operated by Astons in the 1970s and is still something of a local legend as, for mysterious reasons, yellow spots were added to its white livery along with the legend: ‘in case you hadn’t spotted us before.’

Said Tony: “We would love to know where the vehicle is today. Obviously we appreciate that the owner might not want its whereabouts to be divulged and any information will be kept in the strictest confidence.”

If you have any information about the Reliance or material of interest to the group, Tony can be contacted on 077807 57622 or at [email protected]