Stagecoach donates long-serving Dart

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Stagecoach has donated a unique 2001 Dennis Dart SLF for preservation. The bus, AE51VFX, which has Plaxton B29F bodywork, was new to independent operator Ladbrook and Boor t/a Cavalier Contracts of Long Sutton, Lincs, in September 2001.

Cavalier took over the Huntingdon & District bus operation when Blazefield Holdings decided to concentrate on its Yorkshire companies in 2003, and the Dart was used on various Cambridgeshire routes.
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Huntingdon & District had originally been the local depot of United Counties. Stagecoach had been forced to sell this and the Milton Keynes-based network under an Office of Fair Trading arrangement after taking over Cambus Holdings in 1995.

Both initially passed to Julian Peddle, who branded the Huntingdon operations as Premier Buses, and it passed to Blazefield in June 1997. Stagecoach bought Cavalier, which had retained the Huntingdon & District name and livery, in March 2008.

AE51VFX was employed on various duties with Stagecoach and was painted in red City Sightseeing tours livery for a regular service from Cambridge to the Imperial War Museum at Duxford. It later donned Stagecoach corporate livery and was used on contract work in Peterborough before being transferred, to the surprise of many, to Stagecoach South East for the past 18 months or so, working for East Kent and based at Canterbury.

The vehicle has now passed to the Cambridgeshire-based Eastern Bus Enthusiasts Group (EBE), which has a collection of some 30 vehicles, many with Cambridgeshire and Lincolnshire heritage. Group trustee Stephen Longmire said: “This is a bus with considerable local history and ideal for our collection. We had kept an eye on the bus and are very grateful that Stagecoach has kindly agreed to donate it to us.” There are plans to paint the bus in Huntingdon & District colours.

EBE runs the highly successful Whittlesey, Cambridgeshire BusFest, which is normally held in May, and is hoping to be able to host a ‘Small but Mighty’ mini BusFest on May 17, and advises potential visitors to check its website for details.

www.easternbusgroup.co.uk
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