Thursday 30 April 2020

Shearings Seeks Rescue Deal

The Specialist Leisure Group (SLG), owner of Shearings Holidays and the Bay Hotels chain, is attempting to avoid becoming the next corporate casualty of the coronavirus pandemic.

It has been reported that SLG is having talks with a number of potential buyers in an attempt to hold off administration and the company's collapse. The operator runs numerous tour holidays to Great Yarmouth and surrounding area using the town's Carlton Hotel, part of the Bay Hotel chain, as its base.

Shearings had already suspended its holiday programme and laid up its fleet of coaches as the effects of the virus outbreak first became clear. Most of the group's 2,600 workforce is reported to have been furloughed under the government job retention scheme.

Shearings' demise could have a serious impact on the area's tourism industry.


Wednesday 29 April 2020

Depot Demolition

Following yesterday's article on the old Lowestoft's depot and bus station, Syd Eade has contacted me with photos and information about the depot demolition.

Undertaken during June 1986 the accompanying photos show the demolition of the old garage building in progress

He tells me more about its structure 'The original name Regent Alfresco was such because the sides could be opened up, it did have a 'starlight' roof but it was destroyed during the war. The lifting side shutters on the right hand side remained throughout it's life as a bus depot but secured closed.'

He also provides a photo of the interior of the building prior to its conversion with the photographer unknown.

My thanks to Syd for the photos and supporting information


Service Alterations Registered ~ 29th April 2020

Today’s Notices and Proceedings Report, published by the East of England Traffic Commissioner, includes many changes to our local bus services.

There are numerous entries to vary existing services no doubt due to the Covid19 outbreak. One victim is the Southwold Town Council's suspension of its Southwold Shuttle from 3rd April 2020 until 31st August 2020 (or until the pandemic restrictions are ended)

First Eastern Counties has amended the timetables of its 63/64 (Ipswich Station to Aldeburgh Fort Green) and 75/76/77 group of services (Felixstowe to Ipswich) from 6th April 2020

Konectbus amended its Halesworth to Norwich 40A/41A, X41 timetables from 12th April 2020

BorderBus has similarly altered timings on both of its 146 (Southwold to Kessingland and Kessingland to Norwich) routes plus its Beccles Town service from 30th March 2020.

Simonds of Bottesdale also introduced timetable changes on its 552 Denham Post Office to Framlingham service from 13th April 2020

National Express has a new timetable in place for its 375 Birmingham Coach Station to Great Yarmouth Market Gates route - effective from 6th April 2020

However, the full report will soon be available to view here.


Tuesday 28 April 2020

Old Lowestoft Bus Depot

I received an interesting tweet from 'Lowestoft Central' yesterday which included a couple of pictures featuring photos of the old Lowestoft Bus Station and Depot before the latter moved to more spacious premises at Gasworks Road

The photos were taken on a Kodak Instamatic camera shortly before depot demolition occurred in the 1980s. Martin tells me the depot was housed in the former Regent Alfresco Theatre - named as such as it’s roof could slide open.

My thanks to 'Lowestoft Central' for the photos. Whilst not up to the standard of photos taken on today's digital cameras they do bring back some great memories.


Monday 27 April 2020

New Arrival For Our Bus

One of Norfolk's smaller independent operators Our Bus of South Burlingham near Acle have added another Optare Solo SR to their growing fleet. YJ62FZD becomes the seventh active Optare Solo with the company.

It was new in September 2012 to Britannia Parking in Bournemouth before passing to Dawson Rentals, where it also had spells on loan to M&H Coaches of North Wales and Red Kite of Tilsworth.

Thanks to Alex Claughton for use of the photograph.

Stay Safe, Grahame.

Lowestoft Lock Down

A week ago I provided an update on local First activity (Local First Update - 20th April 2020) which included a report that First Lowestoft's Gasworks Road depot was closed and being used for storing out of use local buses.

I am now able to illustrate this with photos from Syd Eade who had to deliver a large amount of groceries to his daughter who lives close to the site. The initial photo shows Great Yarmouth heritage liveried Volvo B7TL 32059 W219XBD present in the yard alongside Wright Eclipse Gemini 36187 BN12JYK.

The second features a Dart sandwich with 42920 EU05AUM providing the filling together with former First Bradford 37025 YJ06XKO and 37021 YJ06XKK which only arrived at Great Yarmouth during January this year

The yard contained more mothballed First Great Yarmouth Geminis with 32348 LK53LKL and 37044 YJ06XLU parked close to the fence with 37174 SF07FDE looking on.

At the rear of the depot is Lowestoft heritage liveried ALX400 bodied Volvo B7TL 30888 W743DWX which had been withdrawn during February.

A third local heritage liveried bus is also present in the form of Flying Banana Dennis Dart SLF 42943 WA06OAS which was also playing hide and seek!

My thanks to Syd for the photos and it's surprising how many Great Yarmouth allocated vehicles are at the Lowestoft depot.


Saturday 25 April 2020

Another Ensign Departure

After Roy's report of Volvo B7TL 32065 departing Caister Road for Ensign, they returned the next day to collect another.

32212 LT52WTV is seen above being hooked up to Ensign's wrecker ready for the trip down to Purfleet and its new home.

Here she is pictured in the yard at Caister Road back in June 2010 awaiting entry into service so she didn't quite make a full ten year service!

Many Thanks to Will Drake for the Photo.

Stay safe, Grahame.

Friday 24 April 2020

More Excel Exercise

Another permitted daily exercise with a three and a quarter mile circular walk through Gorleston's Magdalen Estate to Lowestoft Road and return

My departure was carefully timed to intercept First's Scania double deck 36913 YN69XZT on a northbound X1 working on Magdalen Way. I had travelled on this to Dereham on the official press launch day in January.

No other buses were seen until I neared the end of my walk on Church Lane where I observed blue 33821 YX63LKL passing the East Norfolk Sixth Form College on the 8 for Caister.

After resting on the small wall for a few minutes, another X1 Norwich bound Scania approached with 36914 YN69XZU in service followed by a friendly wave from the driver.

And I thought that was that, until I saw a further Excel blue E400 heading east along Crab Lane with a Bernard Matthews contract working. 33810 YX63LJV paused at the Magdalen Arms stop which allowed me to get a photo.

An excellent, satisfying and rewarding walk!


Another Ensign Collection

A further First Great Yarmouth decker was collected by Purfleet dealers Ensign on Wednesday in the form of  ALX400 bodied Volvo B7TL 32065 W425SRP.  It arrived in the town during April 2014 from the then Leicester Citybus

W425SRP in happier times on a Bernard Matthews run during October 2018
Similar W223XBD is still available for sale at Ensign as is another ex Great Yarmouth bus. Volvo B7L 66334 MV02VBZ is advertised as such on the Ensign website.

My thanks to LiamS for alerting me to the sale of MV02VBZ


Thursday 23 April 2020

Pakefield Permitted Walk

Syd Eade was out on one of his allowed walks in Pakefield earlier today close to his home and found the usual mix of First Scanias and E400s on Lowestoft town services.

His first photo shows red Excel Scania 36913 YN69XZT on the X22 service on 17th April which appears to only run to and from Carlton Colville.

His second contribution is that of blue Enviro400 33819 returning to Lowestoft on London Road South with the 99 from Kessingland earlier today.

My thanks to Syd for the photos which retain his copyright


Wednesday 22 April 2020

Lockdown Look Back No.3

Welcome to Part Three of our Lockdown Look Backs, today we head a bit further into Suffolk with a trip to Ipswich in February 2007.

First up is Mercedes Benz Citaro BX56VTP which was a demonstrator from Evobus in Coventry on loan to Ipswich Buses. It was 2015 before a batch were actually purchased by the company. It remains in service at present with Kent Coach Tours.

Far East Travel ran a variety of vehicles on two routes between Ipswich and Framlingham. Dennis Dart M499ALP is pictured opposite the Rail Station working the 98 service. It was new to R&I Tours, Park Royal and also worked with MTL London Northern and Metroline before being bought by Far East in 2005. Far East ceased operations in 2012 along with Gemini Coach Tours part of the same company.

In 2006 Ipswich Buses purchased a batch of Scania N94UB numbered 70-75 and when new they carried a shortlived Green livery which changed colour depending on the angle and light, needless to say it was not long before they were repainted into a White and Green standard Fleet livery! YN56NVF is now with Connexions Buses in Harrogate.

Next up is former Anglianbus Scania YR02ZYL, purchased by Galloway of Mendlesham. Seen above operating the 110 service to Claydon.

Finally First were busy repainting the majority of the Dennis Dart SLF Fleet, 43445 P445NEX once a long time stalwart of Norwich operations is seen freshly outshopped in Barbie livery as it works the local 61 route to Greenwich.

Look out for another instalment soon..........


Yellow Excel Service!

Omar Atiallah contacted me earlier with a report of an usual appearance on the XL route at Norwich Bus Station this morning.

The 7:10 to Peterborough had Norwich Yellow Line Volvo B9TL/ Wright Eclipse-Gemini 36266 BG12YJY waiting departure time.

My thanks to Omar for the information and photos of this unusual working.


Service Alterations Registered ~ 22nd April 2020

Apart from two community bus service entries there is little to report from today’s Notices and Proceedings Report published by the East of England Traffic Commissioner.

The inclusions relate to two service suspensions by High Suffolk Community Transport due to the Covid19 outbreak. They are the 185 between Southolt Green and Framlingham and the 207 between Kenton Crown Public House and Lowestoft Railway Station and are retrospectively effective from 30th March 2020

However, the full report will soon be available to view here.


Tuesday 21 April 2020

Busy Beach Coach Station ~ 21st April 2011

Another in our series of viewing previous posts from the same date in a different year and this time we go back to Thursday 21st April 2011

Beach Coach Station was unusually busy the previous day with no less than fifteen coaches on site. They included two vehicles from Nottingham City Coaches (YN07DZW and YN58CGP) (see photo) and one each from National Holidays (57 NH05CDH) and Shearings (212 BF10VCC). Normally only one or two coaches can seen there on a Wednesday - if you are lucky that is!


Monday 20 April 2020

Local First Update

Firstly a thank you to Grahame for his Lockdown Look Back posts and secondly apologies for some photos disappearing from recent posts for some reason. They should by now have been replaced.

Today's photos are of the eight Excel Scanias currently based at Caister Road. Taken by Duty Controller Kevin Buckles at 5 am yesterday, they are parked up from left to right in numerical order (30912-9)  ready to move key workers

Other information filtering through is that the First Lowestoft depot at Gasworks Road is currently closed with all operations transferring to Caister Road. Laine Tisdall emailed me yesterday to say that he used his 'designated hour exercise on a walk along Lowestoft's sea wall, which also took me through the industrial area that First's depot is located within. It appears the depot is currently not in use, as it is packed to the fences with older fleet, including both of GY's heritage liveried buses and the Yorkshire Geminis. I did not take any photos as I felt it would be inappropriate in the circumstances.

As a key worker in the registration service I still have to use buses during weekdays and from my observations it seems all services are being run from Caister Road at present using just four types of buses, the Excel Scanias on the X1, Streetlites on GY town services, Lowestoft's E200s on Lowestoft town services (I often see the E200s running light on the A47 in the mornings and evening), and E400s on everything else.'

My thanks to Laine for the information regarding First Lowestoft depot which has been confirmed by my sources at First. My thanks also to Kevin Buckles for allowing me to use his photos.


Sunday 19 April 2020

Lockdown Look Back No. 2

Welcome to another Lockdown Look back, today we are off to Lowestoft in February 2005. A colourful scene at the time with Eastern Counties having a fine array of liveries in use!

We begin with Olympian 34972 J622BVG which was employed on local service 115 and it was yet to recieve the new Barbie 2 livery for older fleet members at the time.

A Mass influx of ex Eastern National & Thamesway Mercedes Benz 709D minibuses had taken place and a few were still running in their former operators colours, 50941 K641GVX is pictured awaiting passengers on the 105 service.

The R-BNG batch of Darts spent most of their time at Lowestoft, 43460 is pictured above working the 603 to Martham, the route was shared between Yarmouth and Lowestoft Depots at the time, now of course better known as the 1/1A Coastal Clipper service.

Coaches were a big part of operations at the time and former Thamesway Volvo B10M-62 20111 N611APU is seen leaving the Bus Station heading to Norwich on the X2 route.

Our final livery on display is the plain white of former Waylands Mercedes 51242 M242AEX, Pictured in Gordon Road heading to the Bus Station working the local 112 service from Carlton Colville.

Hope you enjoyed another look back, Part three on the way next!

Stay Safe, Grahame.

Wednesday 15 April 2020

Exercise Bonus

My permitted daily exercise during yesterday afternoon involved a three mile walk through Gorleston's Magdalen Estate to the Middleton Road area and I took my phone with me to check the number of steps and distance involved.

Its presence helped me to secure a couple of photos with the first being one of the new Scania double deck Excel fleet with 36914 YN69XZU on a northbound X1 working on Magdalen Way.

After continuing my walk to Pound Lane, I retraced my steps crossing Magdalen Square only to find former Excel Enviro400 33823 YX63LKN heading towards me on Hertford Way on the 8 to Caister's Marram Drive.

A pleasing exercise with a couple of unexpected photos as a bonus!


Service Alterations Registered ~ 15th April 2020

Today’s Notices and Proceedings Report, published by the East of England Traffic Commissioner, contains a bumper bundle of entries no doubt due to the Coronavirus outbreak 

Konectbus has amended the timetables of the 5B service between Stalham and Norwich City Centre and the X11 from Norwich Bus Station to Wroxham with effect from 30th March 2020.

National Express has revised the timetable of its 481 Felixstowe to London Victoria Bus Station and 490/491 Lowestoft to London Victoria Bus Station (via Great Yarmouth) service from 6th April 2020.

First Eastern Counties has changed the timetables of its 12/12A Pink Line route between Wroxham and the Norfolk & Norwich University Hospital, the 14/15/15A between Wymondham and Wroxham/ Blofield Heath/ Lingwood plus the 40/40A/X41/41/41A from Norwich St Stephen's Street to Bungay Hillside Road West. All effective from 27th March 2020

The full Notices and Proceedings Report will soon be available to view here.


Tuesday 14 April 2020

First Whippet of Spring ~ 14th April 2012

Another in our series of viewing previous posts from the same date in a different year and this time we go back to 14th April 2012 which fell on a Saturday.

Jonckheeer Mistral bodied Volvo B10M-62 H19WCL was formerly Y391KBN

Synonymous with the first cuckoo of spring was the appearance of the first Whippet Coach of spring in Great Yarmouth!

Whippet Coaches operated the first service of the year to Great Yarmouth on that day. Regular visitor from previous year, Volvo B10M H19WCL, appeared on Service A from Cambridge and is seen here at Beach Coach Station in mid-afternoon.

Whippet used to operate a number of coastal routes from Cambridgeshire to many coastal resorts which ran for the last time during the summer of 2014. Although termed as seasonal, one Great Yarmouth service even ran through until December!


Monday 13 April 2020

Cullum's Corner

Toby Cullum has forwarded some photos for use on the blog and they are reproduced here

My thanks to Toby for sharing his photos with us


Where Are They Now ~ YN03WRP?

Former Anglianbus Scania CN94UB OmniCity YN03WRP is on the move yet again!

After spending 18 months with Landmark Hire of Arlesley it was acquired by Edward Thomas & Son of West Ewell in December 2015. Some four years later it is now owned by Sussex Coaches of Shipley in West Sussex.

London red liveried YN03WRP joined Anglianbus from Metrobus in September 2012 receiving its Suffolk operator's colours a month later. Being declared surplus to requirements it was sent to dealers Ensign in July 2013.


Sunday 12 April 2020

Lockdown Look Back No.1

Firstly Happy Easter everyone, a bizarre time at present with things being very different to the norm to say the least. Having been off work it has given me time to look back through my photo archive and begin this little series for you to enjoy.

First visit is to Colchester in July 2009. The old Bus Station had been closed and a temporary one was in place at the time. First were the main operator in the town along with Network Colchester which was the name for former Arriva operations run by Tellings Golden Miller. Various Independents ran into the town also including Chambers, Hedingham, Beestons and Carters.

First up is Hedingham ADL Enviro 400 EU07GVY which was based at the Hedingham Depot, all vehicles carried the depot code as part of their fleet number and the traditional L at the beginning.

Carters of Capel St Mary ran into Colchester from Hadleigh with the 755 service, former Stagecoach London Dennis Dart R707YWC which was in use this day.

Chambers of Bures were running a large fleet of ex Metroline Volvo Olympians at this time, P488MBY was AV8 with the London operator, it had gained some fairly solid tree deflectors by this point also!

Next up is a familiar vehicle to locals, new to First Eastern Counties for the Excel X94 service in 2002, AO02RBY became 20501 and transfrerred to Essex for use on the X22 Stansted Airport Aircoach route. It did of course return to FEC for further use on Bernard Matthews contract work and the odd outing on X1 services prior to being sold.

Finally another vehicle now with a local connection, YN08HXZ was a Scania Demonstrator in use with Beestons of Hadleigh, seen above arriving at the Bus Station. It went on to work with Eastons of Straton Strawless before passing to its current owner Sanders Of Holt.

Hope you enjoyed Number One, Number 2 on the way soon.....


Friday 10 April 2020

Good Friday Excelling!

As you will have previously read some of the new Scania Double Deck Excel Fleet have been loaned to Great Yarmouth for use on the X1 and X22 services. Regular contributor Simon Taylor was at the helm of some today and sent us some shots of his shift out and about.

36916 YN69XZW was his first steed of the day, seen here at the James Paget Hospital about to head for Norwich.

36918 YN69XZY is pictured in Acle village heading for Norwich.

Finally 36918 on its return journey, back in Acle heading for Great Yarmouth.

Many thanks to Simon for the photos (And there were a few!)