Tuesday 16 September 2014

Caister Road Depot ~ Special Report

The operations centre showing buses allocated - note 32202 tab hanging vertical
Following an invitation from First Great Yarmouth's Operation Manager Danny Beales, Colin White from Eastern Transport Collection and myself were, on Thursday last, privileged to have a tour of Caister Road depot

Both Colin and myself travelled from Gorleston on ex Leicester ALX400 32064 to the north end of Northgate Street for a short stroll to the depot

NML623E in the special Routemaster bay
Upon arrival and receiving our 'hi-vis' tops Danny explained that the front of the depot had recently benefited from a £4,500 repaint/ makeover and what a difference it makes too as can be seen from the blog header above

Our first stop was the busy operations centre with a board showing the vehicles available for service. It was noticeable that one of tab
Norwich decker at Caister Road for its MOT
was hanging vertical and Danny explained it was currently unavailable as one of the safety rails had been vandalised and required replacing before it could return to service

We then continued the tour of the office area which including a learning centre, an interview facility and the all important drivers restroom which included a recently recovered snooker
The final one of the four former First Essex Darts to receive the rear advert
table. Caister Road currently employs 105 drivers

Exiting into the depot itself we were pleasantly surprised by the activities carried out on the north side of the building which I had hitherto assumed was just the supporting wall. How wrong I

Hidden away was the Seat Bay where a gentleman was busy repairing a seat that had been vandalised
Olympian 34110 out of use - what future does it have?
by a knife. It's the only place in First Eastern Counties where all the seat types are reupholstered

Then there was the tyre shop, where the tyres are retreaded, and the well stocked parts store with all individual items automatically restocked using a computer system

After observing the canteen area we saw the staff toilet/shower facility was currently being revamped, Also noted were some of the recycling activities carried out. In the cleaning facility the main item on display was chewing gum remover

The last bay on the north side is a specially
dedicated Routemaster area where the two buses
will be stored during periods of inactivity to protect them from damage etc: NML623E being the only one resident at the time of our visit

It was then out into the garage area proper. Great Yarmouth is the major facility for garage work and MOTs with buses being sent here from Lowestoft, Norwich and Kings Lynn for attention

As if to prove the point, Norwich's Dennis Trident/Plaxton President 33238 LT52WVG and 20515 WV02EUR were both present for an MOT

There are two separate areas for repairs; one for large operations such as engine and gearbox replacements whilst the other is for smaller scale repairs such as window replacements

Over the pits at the time of our visit were 34114 W434CWX, 43864 EU52FGA and 37579 AU58EDK. Also undergoing inspection was Olympian 34108 W435CWX

Parked up opposite the pits was Dart SLF 42920 EU05AUM  which had just received a rear wrap around advert for Great Yarmouth College - all four ex First Essex Darts have now had the same treatment

Plaque dedicated to those losing their lives
The garage roof and lighting has
recently been refurbished although there is still evidence of damage to
a girder from an air attack during World War Two. Additionally a plaque has been affixed to one of the pillars dedicated to the 49 persons who lost their lives during the attack

We then proceeded to the rear yard where the four Olympians were stationed - for the record they were 34110 W437CWX, 34112 W432CWX,  34113 W433CWX and 34187 S687AEE. The first mentioned is the last Olympian built whilst 34187 was withdrawn with gearbox problems and looks unlikely to enter service again

Upon re-entering the garage we passed a board displaying old bus numbers with key hooks  beneath where the drivers use to obtain their keys prior to starting up their buses

All too quickly the tour had come to an end and Danny presented us with some souvenirs to remind us of our visit including a ticket roll from Great Yarmouth Corporation Transport

Many thanks for the tour Danny and for showing us that there was plenty going on behind the scenes to enable First to keep the wheels turning.

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