Saturday, 15 December 2018

Norwich Christmas Routemaster

Social media users may  have recently seen advertised a free bus service which is to operate around Norwich city centre next week. Awayadays, who operate a London Routemaster bus and Norwich’s City Sightseeing tours, will be providing a service free of charge in order to raise money for Big C – Norfolk and Waveney’s local cancer charity.

The half-hour circular route starts at Castle Meadow, and calls at St Stephens Street, City Hall and Norwich Rail Station on its rounds. Doing the honours will be Routemaster RM2151, which has only recently returned to Norfolk following a partial rebuild after it was hit by a car on the A47 in May, causing extensive damage to the rear end of the bus.

Journeys depart Castle Meadow at 10.30 and every hour until 15.30, and the bus will run daily from Thursday 20th to Monday 24th December. Donations will be gratefully accepted for the Big C charity.

To blog readers, I am pleased to be able to exclusively reveal that on selected dates (to be confirmed) we will also be running privately owned former-Eastern Counties VR190 VPW85S as a relief bus. This 1977 Bristol VR has only recently been acquired by new owners, who are excited for it to carry passengers for the first time in over six years.

More information about the free bus rides can be found at

Many Thanks to Sam Larke for putting the post together and supplying all the information.



Wednesday, 12 December 2018

Spratts Coaches To Close

Another long established Norfolk coach operator is to close at the end of the year. Spratts Coaches of Wreningham is to cease operating at the end of December with all current 11 coaches expecting to be sold.

Two of the Spratts fleet seen at Great Yarmouth's Beach Coach Station earlier this year
This is the third Norfolk operator to go in the last six months following the closure of Richard's Coaches of Guist in November and Reynolds Coaches during August this year. Whilst I had heard that Richard's had closed, I could find no official confirmation and I also understood that Spratts might continue until the end of the school year - obviously that decision has been brought forward.

Another Spratts visitor to Beach Coach Station in August last year
The company was established in the late 1950s by the late Colin Spratt who originally began as a taxi operator. At one time the fleet totalled some 30 vehicles and was one of the first privately owned coach companies in the county to adapt a coach to take disabled passengers. The current owner has decided to retire and there was nobody in the family wanting to take over the business.

All existing staff have found jobs elsewhere with three local companies agreeing to take on Spratts' existing work commitments.


Jubilee Double

Whilst on my way to the local Tesco this morning, two Jubilee Coaches were awaiting their passengers from Lynn Grove Academy to join them on an outing.

MAN/ Neoplan L555JCR was the first to arrive at Beccles Road with Dennis Javelin / Plaxton L333JCR joining shortly after.


Service Alterations Registered ~ 12th December 2018

This morning's East of England Traffic Commissioner's Notices & Proceedings Report contains a couple of items of interest.

The former Transport Manager of Reynolds Coaches, Jeffrey John Buckle, has submitted an application to use the same Ormesby Road premises for the use of five vehicles.

Carlton Colville based Britannia Bus has registered a new X89 Northampton to Towcester service commencing on 7th January 2019.

The full Notices and Proceedings Report will soon be available to view on the website


Tuesday, 11 December 2018

Another Solo for Our Bus

Noted yesterday whilst out and about for work was another Optare Solo addition to the growing fleet of Our Bus, South Burlingham.

X313CBT has been aquired from Goodwins of Manchester, it is an M920/B33F Model and was new to Durham County Council as a 17 seater. It carried cherished registration WEZ9165 whilst with Goodwins also.

Thanks to Sam Larke for the photo (It was dark when i saw it yesterday morning at the depot!)


Sunday, 9 December 2018

Revisited Kings Lynn 2003

Been a while since we dipped into the photo collection, so i decided to go deep this time and found some shots taken in the very early days of the Digital camera. I visited Kings Lynn on a very cold and damp January in 2003 and returned with a very mixed bag of photos.

First up is Wright Urban Ranger bodied Mercedes OH1416 N133GRF which was on loan to Norfolk Green from Choice Travel, Willenhall, seen above operating the 505 service to Spalding.

Next up is another loanee at the time, Optare Solo MW52PZC which came from Mistral Rentals, it was working the X98 service to Cromer and Sheringham.

A new arrival with Eastern Counties was 502 N412ENW one of a pair of Scania L113CRL that came from First West Yorkshire, they only had a short stay with FEC before moving on within the group.

Eagle eyed readers may recognise the next vehicle above, it is former Flying Banana Mercedes P681HND which had moved up the A47 to Kings Lynn from Great Yarmouth, it carried fleet number 868 and was treated to the Barbie 2 livery prior to its move.

Finally another classic Norfolk Green vehicle, TIL1178 was a Leyland Tiger new to Burtons of Brixham as F279HOD, it stayed with Norfolk Green until 2006 before being purchased by Emblings of Guyhirn where it was refurbished and made and appearance at Showbus in 2007.


Friday, 7 December 2018

Days of B7L's Are Numbered

Firstly my apologies for the incorrect information published under this header yesterday. I incorrectly assumed the term referred to the double deckers but I was wrong as it referred to the single deckers! There may, however, still be a shake down of some of the double deckers with requirements reducing due to the slow down in Bernard Matthews contract work.

66334 MV02VBZ leaves Market Gates with a Belton service in January 2015
So. to put the record straight, the days for the three Volvo B7L's at Caister Road are numbered and it is initially believed that 66334 MV02VBZ will hang on a little longer with 66341 MV02VCT and  66344 MV02VCX soon leaving the local fleet. The trio were transferred in from Norwich during January 2015.

A diverted Belton service on Beccles Road with 66341 MV02VCT in charge on 5th April 2016
The two 06 plated Darts from Wales were initially sent to replace them but both went on loan elsewhere but have now returned and are being observed on Great Yarmouth routes. Similar Barbie liveried B7Ls should also leave the Norwich fleet around Christmas time.

Heading for Bradwell on 20th March 2015 was 66344 MV02VCX
Again apologies for the misleading information and for any embarrassment caused to my contact at First who gave me the correct information which I misinterpreted!


Wednesday, 5 December 2018

Wet Wednesday

A wet and gloomy day in Great Yarmouth with four coaches observed this morning in the vicinity of the Sea Life Centre on the town's Marine Parade.

Three of them were from the Shearings Holidays fleet which were represented by Mercedes Benz Tourismos 159 BU18YTO, 149 BU18YTD and 905 BN17JSU

The last in the quartet was National Holidays' Kassbohrer Setra NH11KTH


Service Alterations Registered ~ 5th December 2018

This morning's East of England Traffic Commissioner's Notices & Proceedings Report again contains some changes by First Eastern Counties and Konectbus.

First is to amend the route and timetable of its 40/40A/X41/41/41A services between Hillside Road West in Bungay and St Stephen's Street in Norwich. The changes, to take effect from 6th January 2019, will provide an improved service from Bungay with a fast bus every 20 mins. The full timetable is on their website HERE

First is also changing the timetable of its 11/12 route between the Norfolk & Norwich Hospital and Sprowston/Wroxham from the same date; when there will also be timetable alterations on the 28/29/X29 from Norwich St Stephen's Street to Fakenham Oak Street.

Konectbus has informed the Commissioner that it is to cease using the operating centre at the former Anglianbus base at Ellough in Beccles. It is additionally establishing new operating centres in Clacton, Sudbury, Kelvedon and Sible Headingham

The full Notices and Proceedings Report will soon be available to view on the website


Monday, 3 December 2018

Where Are They Now ~ T812RFG?

T812RFG was an East Lancs Lolyne bodied Dennis Trident which was new to Brighton & Hove in May 1999. It was received by Anglianbus in 2012 still in Brighton colours as Tim Miller's photo shows but subsequently repainted at Beccles based Car & Commercials in August that year.

Its last stint with Anglianbus was in 2016 when it moved to Beccles during February that year. It was withdrawn in August of the same year, only to return to service in October following the transfer of the gas buses to Plymouth Citybus.

A month later T812RFG was transferred to another Go Ahead subsidiary, Hedingham & District who operated it primarily from their Clacton depot. Robert Appleton sent a photo of it operating in Essex, still in Anglian livery, in July this year - see Ex Anglian Deckers in Exile - 21st July 2018.
T812RFG in Gorleston High Street on the 61 service to the Barrack Estate on 27th July 2016

However, Ross Newman's monthly Ensign Happenings report states that both T812RFG and similar ex Konectbus W824NNJ had arrived at Ensign from Hedingham during November. They didn't stay very long before being disposed of to MC Tractors of Ramsey, Huntingdon for scrap later in the month.


Sunday, 2 December 2018

Rail Replacement Sunday

Rail Replacement bus services were in place today whilst further engineering work takes places on the railway. We bring you photos of some of the coaches involved at both Lowestoft and Great Yarmouth Stations

Regular contributor Simon Bartram was at Lowestoft and recorded Belle Coaches' Kassbohrer Setra 43 OJI4756 boarding for the 10:05 departure to Beccles and Ipswich

Also in use was Sunbeam Coaches Volvo M27SUN which was captured passing Oulton Broad North signalbox around 10 am with a service to Norwich.

On standby at Lowestoft was Sunbeam's Volvo B10M / VanHool Alizee JCZ5174 and another Belle Coaches' Kassbohrer Setra in the shape of 37 MIL3503.

Meanwhile, over at Great Yarmouth Station three coaches were on the front forecourt with Smiths Coaches Jonckheere Mistral bodied Volvo B12M FP51EUN providing the next Norwich service

Behind was Marett's Chariots Volvo B12M MX03ACZ on standby. It was formerly with Shearings.

In a better photo position was Wrights Coaches Berkhof Axial bodied Scania K114 R25PTS; originally with Craskes of Catfield and previously registered YN06NZV.


Saturday, 1 December 2018

Saturday National Holiday

I don't normally drive along Great Yarmouth's seafront on a Saturday afternoon but did so earlier today.

In addition to a few independents I found a couple of National Holidays's Tourismos parked up close to the Sea Life Centre.

For the record they were NH15GDH and NH17JFH.


Friday, 30 November 2018

Friday Tourismos

Friday morning normally sees the return home of the Great Yarmouth short stayers and the first I observed was one of Shearings' 2013 registered Setras heading west over Haven Bridge.

Arriving at the Carlton Hotel, another Shearings turned up in the form of relatively new Mercedes Benz Tourismo 149 BU18YTD.

Also observed on Marine Parade was yet another Tourismo, CR14RAM, from the Rambler Coaches fleet. Another Rambler, in Just Go branding, was awaiting me on Prince's Road. This time it was BG14OOE - a Volvo B11R with Jonckheere bodywork.

The final surprise was the arrival of three Alfa Travel Tourismos outside the New Beach Hotel; though not all at exactly the same time! BX15OED did the first pick ups to be followed by BN12CLV and BX14LCM (pictured)


Thursday, 29 November 2018

Old Worthing Bus

I quite often receive emails regarding bus workings but this one came as a complete surprise. Whilst not locally related it may be of interest to our south coast readers.

John Hutchinson was recently in contact and some locals may remember the name as he was a one-time editor of  the ECTS magazine Terminus. He is now Secretary of the John Jarrold Printing Museum in Norwich and receives all manner of requests, including the one he is about to share with us here.

"As a regular peruser of your excellent website and knowing of your interest in buses in the Worthing area, attached is a print of something a little different which I hope will tickle your fancy, namely a Worthing Motor Services bus dating from the early 1900s, apparently on its way to the Lake District!

The story behind the picture dates from last year when we were contacted by a Roger Warwick, residing, I think, in Northamptonshire. He had purchased a printer's plate on ebay showing the vehicle concerned and got in touch with us to see if we could provide a decent print of it - which we dutifully obliged him with.

Naturally, I enquired if he knew anything about the the plate and received the following reply:

'I don't know the history of the plate - I can only assume that Worthing Motor services, to whom the vehicle was new in April 1914, had the plate made for publicity purposes. The chassis of the bus was requisitioned by the Military in September 1914, so it had a very short life in the form seen on the plate.'

So, he had obviously done some pretty impressive researching to come up with that information."

My thanks to John for the information and the illustration. No doubt the journey from and to the south coast must have been 'interesting' to say the least!


Wednesday, 28 November 2018

Service Alterations Registered ~ 28th November 2018 (Amended)

After a quiet period regarding changes to local buses services, today's East of England Traffic Commissioner's Notices & Proceedings Report contains a number of alterations by First Eastern Counties and Konectbus.

First Eastern Counties are to amend the routes and stopping places of some of its Lowestoft based services including:-
*  99/99B Lowestoft Bus Station to Pier Avenue, Southwold
*  101 Crestview Drive, Gunton to Cowslip Crecent, Hollow Grove
*  103 Lowestoft Bus Station to Carlton Colville
*  882 North Cove to East Norfolk 6th Form College,Gorleston
*  X2/X21/X22 Lowestoft Bus Station to All Saints Green, Norwich
These changes have been made to reflect the revised town centre routing and there will be no timetable alterations. With Station Square being closed for some weeks heading out of town towards Pakefield, all buses have diverted via Battery Green southbound. This has seen a significant reduction in delays so it was decided to make this route permanent from 6th January 2019.

Konectbus is to make the following changes to timetables from 2nd January 2019:-
*  5B Horning to Norwich City Centre with revised times to and from Stalham
*  84 Harleston to Norwich including the rerouting of the 14:20 from Harleston via Trowse to cater for Framlingham High School students.
*  87/88 Bungay to Norwich - withdrawal of route except in the evenings, on Sundays and on Bank Holidays due to unsustainable losses. An hourly timetable will operate between Southwold and Bungay via Halesworth although the 15:53 ex Southwold and the 15:12  ex Halesworth are withdrawn.

The full Notices and Proceedings Report will soon be available to view on the website


Tuesday, 27 November 2018

Worthing Week

As mentioned in the previous post, I have been on a short break staying in the Worthing area and it would be rude not to include some highlights of the stay!

On my first morning there (19th), I went to Brighton Road to get my paper and found the road completely blocked. Apparently an RTA on the A27 caused the chaos and I got this photo of the 700 Coastliner 10946 SN18KNK stuck in traffic. Chatting to the driver I found that he had travelled around a quarter of a mile in just three hours. Despite that he was cheerful and said that, as long as he his flask of coffee to see him through, he was a happy man!

Compass Bus driver trainer 310 S516JJH which had a similar role with Reading Buses.
Later that day we had the trek over to Durrington Tesco for supplies, whilst yours truly opted out and disappeared to the Compass Bus depot on Faraday Road. Again I was warmly welcomed by the staff with one even remembering me from last time! They were very helpful in making sure I was correctly attired in my hi-vis tabard!

I was told that they were currently trialling a tri-axle Irizar bodied Scania, with an option to purchase, which was due to return shortly. I noted Enviro200 4111 GX13FSL was awaiting repairs following front end damage and that long withdrawn Dart 4003 VX05UHS was being used as a temporary dry store for children's Christmas presents prior to scrapping. Unfortunately the Scania didn't return before I left.

Later in the week (23rd), I observed activity in the Worthing seafront area and caught some interesting workings. First up is another driver trainer and this time Volvo B10M-62/ Jonckheere Mistral 52623 456CLT headed east out of the depot. Using an ex Routemaster plate, it was new to East Kent in October 1998 as S903CCD

Next is Metrobus Scania OmniCity 6556 YN55PWU which has received a livery celebrating the 70 years of Crawley New Town. It arrived on the mainly half hourly 23 service from the town.

Meanwhile, South Downs green liveried ADL Enviro200 27198 SN63YPU was working off route on the Pulse service in South Street.


Monday, 26 November 2018

Brighton Buses

Regular blog visitors will probably note that it's been a little quiet on here lately - there's a good reason for that as I have been on a short break down on the south coast. Whilst there, a visit to Brighton was in order last Wednesday (21st) and naturally some photos were taken.

The first shows Big Lemon ADL Enviro200 YX10FEJ on the 47 to East Saltdean, though not in in the traditional Big Lemon colours as it still wears its Abello London red.

Since our last visit, Compass Bus has secured a contract to operate the Brighton & Hove tendered 37/B service. Four new Citybuzz branded Dennis Enviro200 MMCs have been purchased for the work and seen in North Street was 4303 YX68UJW which has been named Honey Bee. It is being passed by Brighton & Hove Wright StreetDeck 926 BX15ONA.

The other major operator in the area is Metrobus and its Scania N270UD OmniCity 6977 YP09HWJ is nearing its journeys end passing Steine Gardens. It was previously Brighton & Hove's 722.

Brighton & Hove (B&H) are currently using well travelled Wright StreetDeck Demonstrator 703 SN64CTU. It is currently enjoying its second stint with the operator and is covering for warranty work on similar vehicles in the B & H fleet.

A notable vehicle making regular visits to the Steine Gardens area during the day was this Irizar bodied Scania K250UB4 registered SC13BUS. Lucketts Group subsidiary Worthing Coaches has acquired the former demonstrator from the Scania dealer at Worksop to provide contracted service UB1 for the University of Brighton. Its light blue livery has slogans 'Where the Curious Connect' on the offside and 'A place like no other' on the nearside.

As it began to get dark there was the opportunity of getting some photos of Brighton buses under the Christmas decorations and Brighton & Hove's Volvo B9TL/Wright Eclipse Gemini 407 BJ11XHG is shown on Western Road heading for the station.

Apologies for the comparatively poorer quality photos which were taken on my mobile phone as I had left my camera at home.