Stagecoach celebrates 100 years of buses in Swindon

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Swindon depot opened its doors to the public on Saturday 6 November. Richard Sharman attended the event which was aimed at both families and enthusiasts

As the pandemic restrictions have eased over the last few months, the number of people attending bus rallies and open day events has increased. People are relieved to be able to get out and do things again, and that was more than evident at the Swindon depot open day. Stagecoach West has a management team that is more than happy to engage with the public and show its support for the local community.

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100 years of buses

Like many Stagecoach operating companies, West has a long and colourful history, as Stuart Dudley, Swindon Operations Manager, explained: “Buses have a rich history in Swindon, spanning back 100 years. The original bus operator, Bristol Tramways, began in 1921 before transitioning over the years and finally becoming known as Stagecoach in Swindon in 1993. It’s fair to say that running buses in Swindon now is very different to how it would’ve been back then. I’m proud to be part of this community and serving the public in Swindon every day. Here’s to another 100 years!”

Managing Director Rachel Geliamassi added: “We are proud to be carrying on the legacy of public transport in Swindon. A centenary is a huge milestone, so we wanted to commemorate the achievement in a special way and celebrating it with the community we continue to serve every day seemed a perfect fit. The event welcomed residents from across Swindon to enjoy a family-friendly day including a vintage bus parade which really highlighted how much the bus industry has evolved over the decades. We hope that everyone who attended enjoyed it as much as we did.”

Rachel Geliamassi, Managing Director of Stagecoach West attended the event. RICHARD SHARMAN










Family day out & visiting vehicles

The event started at 1000hrs, and despite the damp conditions at the start of the morning, a steady stream of families started to arrive at the depot, with the main attraction for their children seeming to be the opportunity to sit behind the wheel of one of the many Stagecoach buses on display that were fitted with wheel chocks for safety. After that they headed straight for the bus wash experience, which was in demand throughout the whole day, with donations being collected for the Great Western Air Ambulance Charity.

Stagecoach also provided a shuttle bus service from the rail and bus stations to the depot site. This was so busy that it had to be duplicated with a second double-decker. Much to the delight of the visitors, Dave Stanton’s immaculate Bristol VRT XDV 608S was pressed into service for a few trips.

In terms of visiting vehicles, it was great to see three of the Alexander-bodied Leyland Olympian G-AAD batch together at the depot representing each era of livery carried by Swindon depot vehicles since the 1990s. This batch of double-deckers was new to Swindon depot under Western Travel ownership and also represented the last new vehicles purchased before Stagecoach acquired the business. A number of other interesting preserved vehicles also made the trip to Swindon.

Banbury depot, now part of the enlarged West division and itself a former Western Travel depot like Swindon, fittingly attended with freshly painted ADL Enviro200 36763, OU62 BHV. This vehicle has been named Tony Ford, in memory of a former Banbury depot driver.

One of three of the G-AAD batch of preserved Alexander-bodied Leyland Olympians in attendance. RICHARD SHARMAN












Leyland National B-series 700, VAE 499T, is seen in National Bus Company green. This vehicle operated from Swindon Depot from 1997 before passing into preservation in 2001. RICHARD SHARMAN













Preserved Alexander PS-bodied Volvo B10M 20687, which was new to Swindon depot, is seen alongside Roe-bodied Leyland Olympian A952 SAE. RICHARD SHARMAN













Banbury depot supported the event by sending freshly-painted ADL Enviro200 36763. RICHARD SHARMAN













Investing in Swindon

For many years Swindon’s bus services were operated from the Eastcott Hill, Old Town depot, which had a large parking area but small workshop facilities and was based in a residential area. In 2016 Stagecoach invested £3.2m in a purpose-built depot on the Cheney Manor Industrial Estate on the site of the former Plessey Social Club.

The new depot features a large parking area, chassis cleaning bay, a modern bus wash that recycles water, and a six bay workshop. Further investment came in 2018 when £6.25m was invested in 25 Alexander Dennis Enviro400MMCs for interurban services 55 & S6, connecting Swindon with Chippenham and Oxford. The new vehicles meant that one third of the Swindon depot fleet conforms to Euro VI standard.

Looking to the future, Stagecoach West is one of two bus operators in the town working with Swindon Borough Council on the Department for Transport’s Zero Emission Bus Regional Areas scheme, which has now reached the next stage to develop a business case in a bid to secure a share of this funding. If successful, Swindon could see zero-emission electric buses on its streets.

Overall this was a well organised event that was supported by the local community and enthusiasts, raising £1,170 for charity in just five hours.

The bus wash experience proved to be the most popular attraction with families on the day. RICHARD SHARMAN












Preserved ECW-bodied Bristol VRT 1128, XDV 608S, proved popular with visitors when duplicating the
town centre shuttle service.













The specially-made 100 years cake for the event. RICHARD SHARMAN