Tuesday 30 June 2015

Rotherham Depot Visit

As you will have previously read, i ventured to Rotherham on Sunday to collect Yarmouth AEC Swift 85 with Chris Speed and Danny Beales. 85 was prepared for her return by First's commercial until at their Midland Road premises in South Yorkshire. The unit carries out work for the whole of Firstgroup including Repaints, Refurbishment, Accident Repairs and servicing.
30888 all rubbed down ready to have its new Lowestoft Corporation colours applied.

First Eastern Counties have the majority of vehicles being worked on at present at the facility with six of the fleet currently in for various reasons. Yarmouth has two ALX400's there with 32062 waiting to have DDA work and repaint into the new livery whilst sister 32059 is undergoing the same work but gaining Great Yarmouth Transport colours similar to Swift 85, we did get a sneak peak and i can confirm it is now Blue!. 30888 is going to be transformed into Lowestoft's Heritage vehicle and as you can see from the photo it is awaiting its turn in the paintshop. Norwich had 32100 there for Seat tests and 33152 has arrived for repaint into full Purple line livery.
33152 having the first of its panels worked on prior to repaint.
Recently repainted Coach 20514 is also at Rotherham having a full internal refurb which includes new flooring and seating, it has had all the seats removed and the new flooring is currently being fitted. A couple of First Manchester Citaros were also noted plus one of their Scania Bendibus fleet 12007 YN05GYE which was due to have work done on its axles.
A View inside Midland Road Depot showing some of Rotherham's operational Fleet.
Rotherham has a PVR of over 100 buses at present, with around 30 vehicles in use on Sunday which meant most of the fleet were visible to us on our visit, the majority of the fleet here are Wright bodied single decks with Geminis and ALX400 making up the double deck selection, the newest vehicles are Wright bodied Streetlites and there is a single Wright Streetdeck Double Deck in the shape of 35101 SN64CSF. Rotherham also has  Enviro 400MMC YX64VOO on trail, that was noted as we arrived working the X78 service to Sheffield.
Streetdeck 35101 has a day off, lucky for us!
A very interesting insight into what goes on at Rotherham, once again thanks to Chris & Danny for inviting me along and also to all the staff at Midland Road for making us welcome and allowing us to have a good look around.


Monday 29 June 2015

KNG711's 65th Birthday

Bristol LL 711 at Hingham Market Place
On Sunday morning Patrick Burnside took his preserved Bristol LL single decker on a road run to celebrate its 65th birthday

Ex ECOC KNG711 in St Stephens Street with the new guard behind
Eastern Coach Works bodied KNG711 re-enacted the former Eastern Counties Omnibus Company's route 15 from Norwich to Downham Market. The rerun began in St Stephen's Street in the city and replicated as closely as possible the original route serving Hingham, Watton, Mundford, Northwold, Methwold and Stoke Ferry.

A lunch stop was made at The George and Dragon Public House opposite the village pond in Wereham
Another of the many stops was at the 'Desert Rats' memorial in Ickburgh
Seats on the special were limited and but Cameron Robinson was onboard and has sent in numerous photos of the celebratory run.

KNG711 in the rain at the Crown Public House in Methwold on the outward journey
As there were many photographic stops along the way, the complete venture took some eight hours to complete! Cameron said he thoroughly enjoyed the journey and I am grateful to him for the many photos and can only apologise for not being able to use them all!

At Hingham Market Place on the return journey

Sunday 28 June 2015

Home Swift Home

Today saw the return home of Great Yarmouth AEC Swift 85 WEX685M. I was asked to go along up to First's Commercial unit in Rotherham where it had been having some minor work carried out and MOT before making the Journey back to Caister Road. 85 has been purchased by First Manager's Danny Beales and Chris Speed. So what was my part in the proceedings you may ask!. I was named driver for the car journey back whilst Danny & Chris shared the driving of 85, basically i drove in front in case of any emergencies on the way! Thankfully all went superbly well and we arrived safely back at Caister Road around 6pm this evening.
A Line up of local buses at Rotherham today

WEX685M was part of a batch of 12 AEC Swifts delivered to Great Yarmouth between October & December 1973. This brought the number of Swifts in the fleet to 33, others having Willowbrook bodies, all were dual doored, 2 more were aquired in 1978 from Waveney District Council these having different flat windscreens rather than curved.
85 arrived safely back home after a smooth Five hour trip from Rotherham

85 was in service for 23 years then placed in store prior to disposal at Eastern Counties Wellington Road Depot in Yarmouth, 85 donated many parts to sister 83 which ran until the end of summer 1997.
85 was now looking a sorry state missing numerous parts until February 1998 when she was purchased by Nigel Blair who set about the task of getting the necessary parts to get her back to her new home in Yorkshire, her first rally outing was in May 1998 at the Heart of the Pennines Rally.
85 on Second Avenue in Caister, looking splendid in the evening sunshine

Now back at Caister Road, 85 will be kept in the depot and hopefully it will begin to appear on the local rally scene once again in the not too distant future.
Danny brings 85 through the wash at Caister Road to end the journey home

Finally thanks to Chris and Danny for asking me along, really enjoyed today, another blog will be up shortly looking at what else we caught up with at Rotherham.


Friday 26 June 2015

Wednesday's Megabus Left Hand Drive

Many of you will know that Megabus recently extended its M37 Norwich to Cardiff service so that it starts at Great Yarmouth Beach Coach Station

On Wednesday Kieran Smith at Norwich Buses tweeted me to say that he was 'informed that a left hand drive Megabus will run the 09:30 out of Yarmouth'. Unfortunately I saw the message too late to get to Beach Coach Station in time

Fortunately, Steve Gowler did get there in time and this evening sends his photo of the Megabus Van Hool Altano 55012 KX14HSU prior to its departure for Cardiff.

My thanks to Steve for his email and photo


9:30 Mass Exodus!

I am not normally in town in the early mornings unless for a specific reason. Today was one of those rare days as I wanted to clear up some business prior to the town centre getting busier

This allowed for a quick visit to Market Gates which seemed busier than usual. At 9:30 there was a mass departure of vehicles! The Asda shuttle moved off first with Ambassador's former Go Gateshead Scania/Wright Access-Floline S350SET in charge

Konect's Optare Versa 302 AU08DKL in Regent Street heading for Norwich on the 72 service
Next off the blocks, and on time, was a former First Essex Dart on the 2 to the James Paget Hospital followed by Optare Versa AU08DKL on Konect's 72 service to Norwich via Blofield

Enviro200 YW14HWS in charge of Anglian's 81A service to Beccles
At the end of the procession was Sanders Scania YN57FWJ on the 6 to North Walsham being pursued by Anglian's 81A service in the hands of  long term loanee Alexander Dennis Enviro200 demonstrator YW14HWS


Thursday 25 June 2015

#TBT Canary Cup Coaches 2

A fortnight ago I posted photos of coaches attending the annual Canary Cup football competition held in the Great Yarmouth area during Easter weekends in the 1990s. As promised here is a second helping as part of our Throw Back Thursday feature

Hampshire Bus Leyland Tiger BYJ919Y infront of Ulsterbus DAF RXI6686 at Mill Lane in Bradwell
The first photo is of that of Hampshire Bus BYJ919Y which was new to Southdown as XUF534Y in May 1983. The Plaxton Paramount bodied Leyland Tiger was later registered 404DCD and spent some time in National Express livery. It subsequently had a brief stint with Stagecoach Western as well as Stagecoach South. It also attended Showbus at Duxford in 1993

Scottish examples also attended and here is a photo Clydeside Scottish M136 VLT166 which was formerly registered B982 EGG. It is seen here on North Drive in Great Yarmouth outside the Haven Holiday Park. It was one of a number of this operator's vehicles using their former London Transport Routemaster registration

Another Scottish interloper was Lowland Omnibuses KSU 388, a Leyland Tiger TRCTL11/3RH with a Duple 340 body. It was ex Kelvin Scottish in October 1989 as their 4320 which was then registered as D320RNS. It was numbered 522 in the Lowland fleet and 388 in the Lowland FirstBus era. Its original plate was reapplied before scapping some years ago

Our final picture is of Ulsterbus DAF MB230 /Duple 340 RXI6686. The coach was new to Hanmer of Wrexham in April 1987 from whom Ulsterbus acquired itsome two years later. It did, however, return to the mainland as it was observed in a yard at Stoke in July 2007 as dealer stock

A snapshot then of the coaches providing transport for aspiring young footballers attending this annual event


Wednesday 24 June 2015

Service Alterations Registered ~ 24th June 2015

Time for our fortnightly look at the latest Eastern Area Traffic Commissioner's Notices and Proceedings Report which was published at 9:00am today. Full details of Publication 2208 can be viewed HERE

Regular bus on Seafront Circular last year was SF54OUY
Registration of New Services
Two 'new' services have been registered by First Eastern Counties and Our Hire Limited. The former is a Monday to Saturday hourly service 104 round trip from Lowestoft Bus Station from 2nd August 2015
The second comprises OurHire's reintroduction of Seafront Circular Service linking Haven Seashore Holiday Camp and the Britannia Pier. It will operate Monday to Friday except public holidays between 29th July 2015 and 28th August 2015 
Registration of New Services Granted Under Short Notice
Norse deckers on P&R at Castle Meadow earlier this year
Under short notice Norse Eastern has retrospectively registered three of its Monday to Saturday park and ride services to take effect from 15th June 2015. They are:-
  • 605 Postwick Park & Ride to Sprowston Park & Ride via County Hall, Norwich, Castle Meadow, Anglia Square
  • 606 Sprowston Park & Ride to Postwick Park & Ride via Anglia Square Castle Meadow, Norwich, County Hall
  • 603 Norwich Airport Park & Ride to Norwich Bus Station via: Anglia Square, Tombland, Castle Meadow
Applications to Vary Existing Services
EG52FHD on the X2 at Lowestof t Bus Station in early 2015
A number of First Eastern Counties services in the Lowestoft area are to be amended from the beginning of August
  • 111 Bus Station and Carlton Colville Transport Museum - change to route and timetable 
  • 106 Bus Station and Burnt Hill - amendment to timetable 
  • 99 Bus Station and Kessingland - changes to route, stopping places and timetable 
  • 102/122 Gordon Road and Oulton - alteration to timetable 
  • X2 Bus Station to Norwich Bus Station - timetable amendment
Aldborough Village Community Bus Committee is to provide an additional Fridays only circular service from Sharrington to Holt Market Place commencing 31st July 2015

Ambassador is to cease its 730 route in late August
Cancellations of Existing Services
Two operators are cancelling the operation of services. Ambassador Travel is to cease operating its 730 Reedham to Great Yarmouth service from 29th August 2015
Similarly First Eastern Counties has cancelled its 103/123 Lowestoft town service from 2nd August 2015. It will also cease its 807/808/809 Hemsby to Martham's Flegg High School services from 30th August 2015

Decisions Taken at Public Inquiries
At the June 15th Public Inquiry no further action was taken against H Semmence & Co under Section 17 of the Public Passenger Vehicles Act of 1981

Applications Withdrawn Prior to Determination
Richard Hipkiss and Steven Atkinson of Stalham have withdrawn their application for a licence

Quite a bit to report this time. However, the complete Notice and Proceedings Report can be viewed on the website by clicking HERE


Tuesday 23 June 2015

Afternoon 'Appenings

This afternoon witnessed my first trip into town since before my holiday - must have been three weeks! Nothing much changes, even the weather was a typical mid summers's day (on the cool side!)

Beach Coach Station yielded eight coaches including two local visitors in the form of Coach Services' Volvo SG03ZEY and Chenery Travel's Setra BNG444Y

Shearings Holidays' presence was in the shape of another Setra - this time 120 BN09FXK

I had timed my visit to perfection as two of First's deckers turned up to transport workers to the Bernard Matthews' factory. They were ALX400 32061 W221XBD and Olympian 34111 W431CWX

Lowestoft loanee ALX 30899 W744DWX was also later observed on Bernard Matthews' duty heading west negotiating school traffic on Gorleston's Beccles Road


Monday 22 June 2015

36172 Nearly There *Updated*

Thanks to Jim Long, we can update you with the progress of latest Norwich repaint 36172 at Simon Morris in Ipswich.

As you can see it's just awaiting the finishing touches now before heading back to Norfolk.

Thanks once again to Jim for the photo.       Grahame.

Saturday 20 June 2015

New Wright Streetdeck Demonstrator

Eastern Counties were rumoured to be gaining some of the new creation from Wrightbus, The Streetdeck but unfortunately this is not to be just yet! I contacted a photographer on Flickr after seeing a photo of a demonstrator that has arrived for evaluation with East Yorkshire Motor Services.
Streetdeck Demo SL15ZGP

It arrived with EYMS on June 8th and allocated to Hull, it is being used on the X46/47 Hull/Market Weighton/York service for around 3 weeks. The jury is still out on the overall look of the vehicle, i think it is a grower but  the individual livery will make the decision for most people depending on the operator involved.

Many thanks to Scott Poole (6228 Leeds on Flickr) for sending the photo to me. Scott also has his own blog which you can visit here www.scottpoolesbusblog.com Well worth a look!


Yarmouth Area in 2007

Loooking back through old photos makes you realise how much has changed in a short space of time, i found a selection from the summer of 2007 taken around the local area, only eight years ago i hear you say but all the vehicles around then have departed for pastures new or the scrapyard to finish their time.
69006 AU05DMF after an X1 short duty at Caister Road in June 2007.

Caister Road Depot was home to all the Norwich Park & Ride fleet at the time but many of the non standard liveried vehicles often appeared on local routes around the town during their time here, 69006 pictured above was seen after operating the X1 back from Norwich.
Probably my favourite RML photo, 39717 leaving the Beach Road Terminus in May 2007.
Enthusiasts were treated to Three Routemasters operating the summer 3 route from Yarmouth to Hemsby, 39480 JJD480D in traditional Red, 39623 NML623E in Banana Yellow & Green and 39717 SMK717F in a wrong version of Great Yarmouth Transport livery!. Other members of the fleet did appear if the RML's were out of action.
PIL6595 outside Reynolds Garage in June 2007

Reynolds Coaches in Caister were going through a repaint scheme which saw vehicles gain a new Grey, Blue and Yellow livery which was later replaced with the Silver colours in use today, Mercedes minibus PIL6595 gained a full allover Grey look shortly before being withdrawn.
Neaves Leyland Greenway PDZ6263

Neaves of Catfield were running quite a few Leyland National Greenway conversions in this year, all were painted in an allover Red livery, some gained names others without, used on a mix of local services and school contracts they were a common sight around East Norfolk for a while.
Preserved Eastern Counties VR VEX287X in Carlton Colville July 2007

July 2007 saw a special event at the Eastern Transport Museum to celebrate the vehicles built at Eastern Coachworks in Lowestoft, a sunny sunday in July saw many superbly turned out vehicles appear at Carlton Colville for a day of nostalgia, one of my favourite events there i have to say.

Well some of 2007 remembered here, im sure many more blogs will appear in time from various years jogging a few memories!


Excel 8

Reports of Excel livered buses operating on anything other than the X1 service are becoming more frequent

Jamie Skinner was passing Market Gates during early yesterday evening when he saw First's Excel liveried Gemini 37578 AU58EDJ at the stop normally used by the 8 service linking the James Paget Hospital and Caister's Second Avenue

Luckily he was on the top deck of a passing decker and managing to obtain this picture of 37578 awaiting the off

Many thanks to Jamie for the report and photo


Friday 19 June 2015

Abigail Unveils Reynolds' Coach

Today's Great Yarmouth Mercury features a report on a local little girl, Abigail, who has a particular fascination for the Caister based fleet of Reynolds Coaches

MAN/Beaulas PN06UBK at Reynolds' Ormesby Road site - neighbouring Volvo/Van Hool 7289DD is currently advertised for disposal on Reynolds website but was still employed on schools' duty earlier this week
As many of you will know, the operator's coaches have been personalised by receiving girls names. So when the managing director Charles Reynolds heard from Abigail he invited her to take a tour of his Ormesby Road premises and promised to name one of the coaches after her

Last weekend Abigail visited the site again and officially unveiled a thirty five seater as Lady Abigail following its refurbishment. She then inspected the coach named in her honour and tried out the driver's seat!

The coach temporarily received an AB11 numberplate which Abigail now has at home. It has since reverted to its PN06UBK registration but retains the Lady Abigail name. It is currently on tour in Cornwall


More On Caroline Coaches MXX87

Following yesterday's Throw Back Thursday feature on former Caroline Coaches RTL MXX87, contributor Syd Eade was quickly in contact regarding its workings etc

He tells me that MXX87 used to live in the open at the small garage at Halvergate, and he took this photo in July 1970 at those premises. He continues 'It was used on a local schools run and on summer Saturdays would work the stage service into Great Yarmouth and back for shoppers from there via Freethorpe....but I never went on it as you would get left in the middle of nowhere! The destination never changed, I think it was just a piece of paper stuck behind the glass.'

The photo was taken at the former Lake of Halvergate premises, the company being acquired by Caroline in 1955. For some time it was where most of the company's maintenance was carried out.

Incidentally, MXX87's companion in the photo is a 41 seater Plaxton bodied SB1, new to Beeline of West Hartlepool in March 1959. Note the telephone numbers!

Many thanks to Syd for the information and photo with the latter retaining his copyright


Loanee Moves

With the return of ALX400 32064 from Rotherham after repaint one of the Yorkshire B10BLE's that has been on loan to Yarmouth has moved up to Norwich. 60618 R781WKW is now working in the city.
60618 on Stonecutters Way in Yarmouth back at the beginning of the month


Thursday 18 June 2015

Repaints Latest

I understand that Caister Road's ALX400 32064 W224XBD is on its way back to Great Yarmouth following its repaint at Rotherham. It's almost exactly a year ago since the decker arrived here from First Leicester

It's place in the repaint queue has been taken by Norwich President 33152 LR02LXL

My thanks to Grahame and First for the information


#TBT Caroline Coaches MXX87

A really interesting subject for this week's 'Throw Back Thursday' feature as I delay the Canary Cup pictures to next week

Earlier this week I received an email from frequent contributor Tim Major attaching a photo of a bus which used to operate with Caroline Coaches before their merger with Seagull Coaches

I expected it to be a single decker as they didn't run that many double deckers. To my surprise, it was of the former variety and one I remember well from my formative years. It always used to attract my attention when in ran into Cobholm

MXX87 was a former London Transport RTL new in November 1952 as RTL 1364. I also remember its Park Royal H30/26R body being painted in a blue and white livery The RT type was the forerunner of the iconic Routemaster with the RTL being the Leyland powered version of the standard RT

Mr Maddeson often used to park one or two of his coaches (some Bedford OBs I particularly remember) on the roadside at Coronation Road, but I suspect MXX87 (because of its size) was probably parked elsewhere and the photo appears to show it on land adjoining Saw Mill Lane in Cobholm away from any housing

I have been unable to source any additional details about the RTL and would welcome any further information anyone has

My thanks to Tim for the photo which he obtained on a recent trip to Derbyshire with its source being unknown


Wednesday 17 June 2015

Lowestoft Loanees

Grahame informs me that two Lowestoft deckers are currently on loan to Great Yarmouth's Caister Road depot. They are ALX400 30889 W744DWX and Gemini 37570 AU58ECT

30889 W774DWX in Gorleston High Street during January 2014
My thanks to Grahame and our sources at First for the information


Monday 15 June 2015

First Coach gets a makover

Not strictly our area but something a bit different, First Essex Coach 20463 X193HFB is the latest vehicle to gain the rather lively First Driver Training livery at Chelmsford.
20463 pictured at Westway Depot in Chelmsford (Si Coates)

The vehicle previously acted as a back up for the X30 Aircoach route between Southend and Stansted Airport. She was new to First Wessex as 6193 for National Express work in 2000.
Blink and you still wont miss it!  (Si Coates)
Many Thanks to Simon Coates for use of the photos.

Service Alterations Registered

During my absence two Eastern Area Traffic Commissioner's Notices and Proceedings Reports have been published on 27th May and 10th June

Semmence S707JJH in Norwich during March 2014
The only content of the former report (Publication No 2206) of relevance to our local area is notice of a public inquiry to be held on 15th June for consideration of disciplinary action against H Semmence and Company Limited of Wymondham under Section 17 of the Public Passenger Vehicles Act of 1981 and also under Section 28 of the Transport Act 1985. Semmence is the sister company of Great Yarmouth based Ambassador Travel and often provides coaches for schools' services in the local area

Publication No 2207 notes the registration of a new service by High Suffolk Community Transport Limited of Woodbridge, The hail and ride service, linking Kenton Old Crown Public House and Lowestoft Railway Station, operates on the fourth Saturday of each month commencing on 27th June 2015

Borderbus Deckers at Moor Business Park, Beccles in April this year
The same publication provides (retrospectively) details of  'new' X1 and X2 services between Norwich and Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft respectively for the Radio One Big Weekend special event over the 23rd - 25th May Bank Holiday weekend

Under the heading of 'Applications to Vary Existing Services' Borderbus of Beccles is to amend route, stopping places and timetable of its route LAT3 between the Latitude Festival site at Henham and Southwold from 17th July 2015.

First Eastern Counties is to amend the route, stopping places and timetable of  its 1/1A/1B Lowestoft to Martham routes from 26th July 2015 

Whippet's SF05XYZ on the summer Coastal Service in April 2014
Under the 'Cancellation of Existing Services' Whippet Coaches has surrendered its Coastal Service A between Cambridge and Great Yarmouth's Beach Coach Station from 26th July 2015. Similarly it has abandoned Coastal Service B between Cambridge and Cromer and Services G and H from Cambridge and Lowestoft from the same date

Three Norse operated Norwich Park and Ride Services services have been cancelled from the 15th June 2015. These are the 603 to the Airport plus the 605 and 606 routes between Postwick Park & Ride and Sprowston Park & Ride

The Public Inquiry of the 1st June accepted the undertakings from Venturer Coachways of Woodbridge and accordingly granted their application for a licence


The Wanderer Returns

My first post since returning from 'over the pond' and at last my body is returning to UK time and the jet lag appears to be waning.

Firstly, I must express my thanks to Grahame for taking over the reporting of local news whilst I was away and I am sure you will agree he has done an excellent job. I also hope that you enjoyed my posts from the USA, which I managed despite being on the road for much of the time and the lack of WiFi

Getting back to local reports, after a drive along Great Yarmouth's almost deserted seafront during yesterday teatime (it is mid June isn't it?) I looked in at Beach Coach Station and observed three National Holidays' coaches out of the eleven on display

They included new addition to the fleet, Mercedes Tourismo NH15LDH, and Setras NH13CWH and NH09MRH