Thanks to everyone who has been in contact regarding Fleet Ramblings, which it seems is well liked and several people commented that it would otherwise require visits to several website. We generally only cover the fleets for which we have produced Fleet Handbooks, or intend to produce books in the next few months.
One area of feedback we have implemented from today is to indicate the date and time of each update. This will assist in identifying where additional posts are made on the same day.
We started our Fleet Ramblings coverage last year and generally we use it to give a commentary of the changes reported each month by the companies we produce Fleet Handbooks for. We are also able to give snippets of information at other times that we are made aware of. Recently we have received many comments that our information duplicates that of other groups and websites.
We will continue to provide a Fleet Ramblings section on our website through until the end of the year, but will review options going forward.
Work on our next two Fleet Handbooks is now underway and we are planning to publish these at the end of July. They will cover the fleets of Stagecoach South and Stagecoach Manchester. See our publications page for more details.
The Rally season is now in full swing and a big shout to the many bus and commercial vehicle preservationists who spend huge sums of money, and time, buying, restoring and exhibiting their vehicles. It is challenging as I can personally confirm.
More years ago than I care to remember, I was part of the nucleus group that founded the West Midlands Omnibus Preservation Society (WMOPS). We wanted a local bus - I wanted a Midland Red D9 - and initially looked at one of the former Stratford Blue Leyland PDs which were being operated by South Warwickshire operator Cateralls. The cost was too great so it was back to the drawing board. Eventually we bought an ex Stratford Blue Leyland Tiger Cub being operated in South Wales and followed this a few years later with a Midland Red S22. Separately, I was also involved with a group of staff from the West Midlands PTE’s Coventry garages in buying a former Coventry Daimler CVG, 239. But money and time took its toll and I left both groups, a decision I now regret, and eventually the WMOPS folded. The Tiger Cub eventually ended up in Ireland with New Age Travelers, but the S22 and CVG passed hands and remain intact and preserved, although the CVG is currently out of use with its owner DeCourcey of Coventry.
Having been involved in preservation I can share the pain currently being felt by the owners of ex United Counties Bristol RELH6G 273, ORP273F which was destroyed by fire at Rushden over the weekend. Northants Fire & Rescue Service has been reported as saying that they believe the fire was started deliberately.
Despite not owning any vintage buses, I have been privileged in being able to ‘work’ with historic vehicles with Stagecoach and also Wheels/Midland Red Coaches. Steven Knight Media also played its part several years ago in sponsoring the repaint of the Stagecoach Megadekka 14000 into the original Stagecoach stripes livery.
There is also a buzz from seeing your bus(es) on display at a Rally. I never did see any of the buses I was involved with rallied whilst I was still involved with them, but whilst working for the West Midlands PTE I did have the ability to take buses from the Coventry fleet to several bus rallies, and on several occasions with significant results bringing back awards to Coventry. The 1970s and early 1980s were a golden age for bus companies supporting bus rallies and created a real pride in vehicles. At Coventry we did adopt CVG 239 as a 'Showbus', but generally opted to take a bus just out of the paintshop or something that was historically significant - it was the latter that saw 239, a prototype Metrobus and a Neepsend-bodied Fleetline heading to Showbus at Hillingdon on one occasion.
It’s been a while since we did a blog post, but it has also been a busy time. Last week saw us updating all our Allocation Supplements for our Fleet Handbook series. As the number of books has increased it is becoming a major job to update and check these documents and post the updates in a timely way. We will continue to do so for the foreseeable future, but may have to be realistic and stagger the updates over a couple of weeks, to allow time to check the documents. We are human and errors do sometimes creep into the updates, but we aim to correct these as soon as we become aware of them.
We are still working on the Stagecoach South and Stagecoach Manchester books, but have also been working on railway news recently attending Greater Anglia’s refurbished train launch and then attending a briefing with Virgin Trains on its Pendolino modification programme. Thrown in a couple of bus running days, Delaine and Fenland and the days have been extremely busy. I was particularly pleased to see so many people, and industry colleagues, out at the Fenland Running Day last Saturday. I was undertaking a regular role as conductor of the Stagecoach FLF and at one stage almost had to declare a three bell load to my driver, we had just three empty seats left!
In railway news, West Coast Railways has resumed operations and the letter confirming their ban from Network Rail infrastructure has been lifted can be downloaded below.
Sales of our Stagecoach Historic Bus & Coach Fleet book have been really encouraging and we are about to go to our third reprint.
Steven Knight is a Transport Specialist who has over 40 years experience in the bus and rail industries as well as in specialist transport journalism. He is a member of the Chartered Institute of Journalists.