Sixty years of the SU and more celebrations

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Western National Bristol SU. 672 COD seen in official photo when new. TVAGWOT COLLECTION

Sixty years ago this month a lightweight Bristol vehicle which provided service to rural communities in many parts of Britain was launched. The Bristol SU’s anniversary is being celebrated by the Thames Valley & Great Western Omnibus Trust (TVAGWOT) which has announced its events programme for this year and hopes to have as many variants of the SU present as possible.

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Powered by an Albion EN250 4.1 litre engine and David Brown gearbox all variants had ECW bodywork. The SU was available as a 24ft 2ins long SUS model, along with a 27ft 10 long SUL bus and a 28ft 12ins SUL coach. All were 7ft 6ins wide. The vehicles could manage around 25mpg.

Most of the 181 examples built from 1960-66 went to Southern and Western National, though several state-owned THC companies including United Automobile Services and West Yorkshire took small numbers.

Western National’s pioneer SU, registration 672COD, is currently undergoing a major engine rebuild in TVAGWOT’s workshops, but is expected to be among several survivors flying the flag for the SU at events.

TVAGWOT events
Held in conjunction with the Cornwall VR Group, a Penzance Bristol VR and Vintage Bus Running Day has been organised for Sunday 19 April. June 19-21 will see the Royal Blue and National Omnibus Transport Company Centenary Rally, celebrating 100 years of the latter and running vehicles from its main transport hubs.

Thames Valley 100 will be celebrated on 14 July in the Reading area – more details to follow closer to the date – and taking place on Saturday 10 September is the Kingsbridge 7ft 6ins Vintage Bus Rally with services through the narrow lanes of the South Hams.

More details of the Trust’s events and collection can be found at