Hampshire Yard Bash – 28th October 2017

Set this date in your diary! Itinerary is being drawn up

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Hampshire Yard Bash – Saturday October 28th

Come on board the tour for spotters and general bus and coach enthusiasts!

The coach booked is a 2013 ‘Platinum Class’ VanHool TX16 Acron. There is plenty of legroom, air conditioning, a toilet, and to keep you warm for this winter tour, hot drinks will be available for purchase at 70p.

This time, it is more spotter’s based as we will be using this coach for the day. However if you just like walking around yard’s looking and vehicles or just like taking pictures, you are welcome to come along too!

Joining points are expected to be Chandlers Depot, where there is free parking available, but as it may be an early start from here, there will be a Salisbury pick up too, either at the station or at Millstream Coach Park, a 10 minute walk from the station.

There are two options for joining the coach at the depot.

Chandlers Depot Feeder. Pickup outside Westbury Rail Station at around 08:30 – 09:00 (To Be Confirmed). Free service

You MUST state in your e-mail if you wish to use the feeder as it is a 16 seat minicoach.

 

Chandlers Depot Pick Up location. Expected to depart here at around 09:00 – 09:30 (To Be Confirmed)

Chandlers-map

Address: 158 Chemical Road, Westbury, BA13 4JN

Salisbury pick up around 10:00 – 10:30 (to be confirmed)

Confirmed visits:

– Wheelers Travel (Ower)
– Emsworth & District
– Lucketts Travel
– Portsmouth Preservation Transport Depot
– Xelabus

 

To be Confirmed but not guaranteed yet:

– Stagecoach Portsmouth

 

Of course there are many other places yet to request, so keep this page bookmarked for further updates. The itinerary will be on this page so the link will not change.

Price is £15 per person payable in cash only on the day. you MUST reserve a seat as there is only 34 seats available.

You can wait until the itinerary is finalised, but you can reserve a seat now if you wish. E-mail me at james37611@hotmail.com and state how many seat’s you wish to have reserved, and if you are joining at Chandlers Depot, Westbury Station, or Salisbury.

Times/pick up location will be confirmed on here.

 

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Somerset Yard Bash Trip Report – 11/02/17

Intro

The Somerset Yard Bash was a tour that took many months to come together. It was my first ever tour so was rather tricky writing up a plan. Initially the idea was going to be a trial run just using the Chandlers fleet, the problem though was where to go? Visit coach parks? Maybe visit yards, that would be different but then Wiltshire is a bit sparse for garages, how would we do vehicle swaps with our fleet, not that there is much ‘school only’ fleet that would be of interest.
Over time it grew into using Chandlers and Centurion fleet, and next thing it turned into a multi-vehicle yard bash! This involved a lot of E-mails and was a huge help having some contacts.

The timetable and itinerary was drawn up, which was altered a few times because it was looking a bit ambitious, and even the final timetable looked a bit tight and I was wondering if we would even be able to finish at Westbury by 18:00.

The places we were visiting were spread over different counties, but as the ‘Wiltshire, Bristol, Somerset and Bath & North East Somerset Yard Bash’ was rather long for a title, I simplified it to ‘Somerset Yard Bash’.

I set it up with a limit of 49 seats and asked people to reserve seats just in the slight off chance that there would be a lot of people and not enough room, I’d hate to have to turn people away on the day. However I was only predicting 10 people, maybe 15 at a push.

In the end there were 25 passengers on board, most were from the local region however there were people from Devon, Berkshire, Wales and even West Yorkshire.

 

The Tour

08:40am I had arrived at the Chandlers Depot, the boss had Dennis Javelin T701 SUT ticking over, warming the coach up and making sure everything was fine. I already hand washed the floor, hoovered the seats, mopped the floor, polished the cab, cleaned the windows, polished the outside windows and washed the body making the Javelin look presentable, all that was left to do was clean the wheels

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Steve from Centurion Travel arrived and did his checks and familiarized himself with the vehicle. He was to be the driver for the first and last legs of the tour.

There was now a bit of a change, if there was time we would visit the other part of Centurion in Radstock where the sales fleet are, and also we could use the reserve Duple Laser Bedford B47 DNY from Bristol to Westbury instead of using T701 SUT again, a bonus for our passengers.

We headed off to Westbury station and was pleased to see the people that had turned up as booked, first time T701 SUT has been photographed in a while, especially as there wasn’t any other ones of it on Flickr!

We was doing fine for time and waited for the 0958 train to arrive as there were 3 passengers coming off that train.

We set of after 10:00 and our first visit was to the Chandlers Depot, which isn’t far away but we had to take a small diversion as the direct route over the railway bridge has a 7.5t limit. There was a First S&A Dennis Dart in tow behind on the 265 to Bath, and at the industrial estate there was another Dart operating the 265 towards Warminster.

At the depot I opened the gates and people went around getting their photo’s and numbers, the first time this has happened here I believe. CT14 CCT was out that day on a Strictly Come Dancing day trip, and HT07 CCT and CT16 CCT were away. The rest of the fleet was in for viewing. People had also noticed the privately owned preserved ECW bodied AEC Regal IV next door, which I forgot to mention. The registration is LYM 729, and seen here when it arrived about 5 months ago

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Back on the Javelin we set off on time for a run to Midsomer Norton via Radstock. Plenty of roadworks in the area (they were working too) and tree cuttings taking place which held back our progress but we made it to our second visit, the Centurion Sale’s park, all vehicles for sale. Contact Centurion if you are interested in buying one of these vehicles, as they need to go and would be a shame to scrap them.

 

Then it was off to the Centurion depot in Welton where we had a vehicle change to Martin Spiller’s Duple Dominant 1 bodied Bedford, wearing the Economy Travel livery. There was time here for people to view the Centurion fleet as well.

 

Martin Spiller took us in his Bedford up to Berkeley Travel up in Paulton to view their fleet. I hoped we could visit here as although I knew most of the fleet was ‘modern’ but would be a good place for spotters to get what they could. There was the added bonus though of ex-Westway Van Hool T8 E329 OMG.

 

Having viewed the fleet it was back on board KPC 211P for a drive down towards Shepton Mallet. It was a great run including a couple of hill climbs. We were on our way to see Steve Lester’s private collection, although it was two vehicles it was a case of quality rather than quantity.
He got his Bedford VAL out for us to see which is currently under restoration. The registration is RPR 738K. Next to this was his Plaxton Paramount Leyland Tiger KYA 284Y.

 

KPC 211P was moved out the yard and Steve attempted to get his Tiger out of the farm. Having managed to get it out onto the road, we jumped on for a short spin out to Pylle. It was a shame we couldn’t do a longer run or do a return trip but there wasn’t much time and we were already around 30 minutes behind schedule.
Our visit to Pylle was to visit the Smith’s garage. The owner was unable to be there however he was going to park what he could outside for us to see, and he did a good job as there was a variety of vehicles parked outside.

 

Unfortunately, I packed my camera away with it switched on and killed the battery. So photos from here on are taken by my friend who has kindly allowed me to use them for this report.

The Tiger returned to base and we switched back to Bedford KPC 211P for a ride to the Travel Filers/Somerbus yard at Stanton Wick available to view. There was a wide variety available, a  Jonckheere Deauville, a Marshall dart, a variety of Van Hool’s and even a rare Van Hool A308.

Tim Jennings had his preserved AEC Regal 3 on display as well. We had a vehicle change here onto Alan Peters Abus Optare Spectra YE52 FHF which was requested. Steve also turned up with the Duple Laser Bedford B47 DNY who would be following us up to Bristol.

 

Trying to do a headcount on a double decker was a bit of a challenge but after three attempts I counted 25 passengers and we headed off to Bristol. We decided to try Eastville (KT Travel) first as we were expected between 1500-1530 and we was pushing it for time as we were still late.
Passing through Temple Cloud, a few people noticed the Buglers coach depot, unfortunately this was not scheduled in and we wouldn’t have had time to stop over.

We made it to KT Travel at around 15:20 or so, but there was no-one to be seen. A driver appeared and wandered what we were doing, and after explaining we were expected here he let us look around. There were a couple of coaches and the added bonus of ex-Frist and Arriva Olympians

 

 

Back onto the Spectra we had a short ride to the 3 Tuners sites. Unfortunately the gates were closed on two of the site’s, but the owner apologized for this as he wasn’t well and it was cold outside so he went home which is understandable. There was also a private Routemaster nearby used as a mobile cafe.

 

Our last visit was to the two Abus site’s. As always, there was a wide range of vehicles to be seen at the Kingsland Road site, including 1910 Group’s R910 BOU, ex-APL Dart Y658 NLO, Routemaster ALD 977B, ex-Empire Facilities E113 KYN and a wide variety of other vehicles.

At the Abus depot round the corner, we got to see the rest of the fleet and the Optare Spectra being converted to an open topper before being exported to Jamaica.

 

The original plan from here was to use T701 SUT back to Westbury so that the Javelin is back home, however we got it arranged that we could use Centurion Duple Laser B47 DNY then swap the vehicles over at the start of the week. This was an added bonus and I think everyone enjoyed the use of both Bedford’s.

On the way out of Bristol in the Brislington I pointed out the Playbus Olympian. If anyone was wondering what the registration is, it’s J620 GCR

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We did a set down and Bath Spa and Westbury Station then set off to the Chandlers Depot to park up the Bedford.

Despite our late running earlier, we managed to arrive at Westbury Station 2 minutes early!

Overall it seemed to be a very successful day and various people asked  ‘Are you doing another one?’ ‘When is the next one?’ All I can say is keep your eye’s peeled on this blog!

I’d like to thank all the operators and various people who have helped make this possible, and more importantly I would like to thank all 25 of you that turned up for the ride. We visited 9 yards, covered 101 miles, rode on 5 vehicles and saw a wide variety of buses and coaches. I hope that it was worth the £10, and I certainly won’t charge any more for the next one.

 

Bath Rail Replacement Buses 15/11/2016

I took a visit to Bath, having to make a visit to the Royal United Hospital, and the day started off by taking the 06:04 train from Trowbridge. However upon arriving at the station, everything was cancelled due to a ‘broken down train’. I had to take the 06:23 265 bus to Bath instead.

It turns out a freight train was the issue as the axle broke and damaged the rails, and was stopped at Hawkeridge, between Trowbridge and Westbury.
No Rail Replacement Buses could be sourced immediately but they would come out once vehicles were free from school duties. After the visit to the RUH, I went back to the City at 10am to see the Rail Replacements were out in force until around 14:00.

A variety of coach operators were out in force providing a variety of vehicles, and it was handy that I bought my camera with me! Here is the vehicles I caught operating Bath to Westbury services:

Applegates

Applegates of Berkeley provided their Plaxton coach H6 EFA

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Centurion Travel

Centurion Travel of Midsomer Norton provided their Irizar Century S344 SET

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Chauffeurhire

Chauffeurhire Coaches had a Mercedes Tourismo CP15 CHP parked near the station though I didn’t do a turn, I suspect it was a reserve

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Pewsey Vale Coaches

I noted 3 coaches from Pewsey Vale, Bova WA04 MHM, Beulas Spica C PE63 OSO and Bova Futura 2 WA15 BWB

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Silverlink Travel Services

Silverlink Travel of Nailsea bought along their Yutong YD66 AXS, which also worked the school runs later on, not seen a new ’66 plate coach on school duties before

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South Gloucester Bus & Coach

Bristol based South Gloucester Bus & Coach bought a small selection. What caught my eye was two N.C Palatine 2 bodied Volvo Olympians at the coach park! I did not see both of them work a service when I was taking photos, however when I passed the bus station on the bus from the RUH, I noted one of them parked outside the station, and then proceeded to the coach park, I suspect they were reserve.

Their National Express Levante’s NX05 AAA and T100 SGB also worked the rail replacements

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Wiltshire Day Rover – 28th April 2016

This is the post excerpt.

Wiltshire Day Rover: 28th April 2016

Welcome to my first post! This first trip report covers my Wiltshire Day Rover (WDR) travel on the 28th April 2016, and also covers a bit of info on the rover as well.

It isn’t my first day out using this rover, as I’ve done a couple before as I am trying to do all the routes covered by the rover ticket, and it’s not that easy to do!

This is however my first spotting trip, having recently purchased PSV Circle’s Wiltshire fleetlist. At £9.99, it not only covers the bus and coach operators, but has all the non-PSV vehicles too, so that’s minibuses registered for schools, community travel, clubs, groups etc. You can get one for each area of the UK, and I highly recommend their books.

The Ticket

The rover not only covers Wiltshire, but expands over the boundary too, and can go out by some distance too. For instance it is valid on Stagecoach route 66 from Swindon to Oxford, even though only a short distance of the route is actually in Wiltshire. It is also valid to places like Southampton,Bristol, Bath and Hungerford, although you can only travel to these places on certain routes.

As for operators, it is accepted on a lot of operators, there isn’t many operators that it isn’t valid on, but there is information on the Wiltshire Council website which lists what operators it is valid on.

I always carry the WDR leaflet in case a driver doesn’t know what the ticket is, and believe me it does happen! (I once almost got refused travel on a bus because the driver was adamant that it wasn’t valid, but thankfully I had the leaflet to prove otherwise!)
I also have it on my phone as a PDF. This is a more updated version provided by Wiltshire Council, the reason being that their leaflets they supply are out of date, as it not only shows long gone operators such as Hatts Coaches and Levers Coaches, but it shows the old price of £7.50 instead of £8.50, and the map shows that Swindon to Fairford is valid, but actually it is no longer valid on that route.

I do wonder how many people go to the Tourist Information Centre for a leaflet and not know of the changes without going online, you could go on a bus from Swindon to Fairford, and claim that it is valid, as the information you are provided with shows it is valid?

I will also mention that it isn’t that easy to buy either, although you can apparently purchase it from any bus driver, that very much depends on who knows how to issue one. If you try to get one from Beeline or Libra Travel, in my experience, they have no idea how to sell one (in fact most drivers have never heard of it). First bus apparently don’t have it on their machines, despite publications stating that you can buy the ticket from any operator. I wonder how many people actually purchase this ticket? With out of date leaflets with mis-guided information and operators not knowing how to issue one, it is quite poor compared to some other day riders, which have clear information and is widely advertised.

The Trip

I had a rough plan set out, which is essential when it comes to covering routes that only run once a day, or is very limited. The plan basically covers the northern part of Wiltshire, including Bath and Swindon.

I set out from home at 0730 for the walk to the town centre, making a visit en-route to the County Hall to see what Wiltshire Council minibuses were parked up. Having noted these, I went to the town hall to get the 08:06 bus to Chippenham.
This is on the X34 route from Frome to Chippenham operated by Faresaver (J.V Pickfords), which used to shadow the 231 route operated by First S&A until they pulled out in 2015.

SN65 OFP, an Enviro200 Dart, appeared on the X34 from Frome, and was only a minute late. The ticket was successfully purchased and I got a seat, which surprised me as I expected it to be full of school kids, but I suspect most of them are on school coaches.
The interior was in a good condition in my opinion, and on my previous Faresaver journeys I’ve found their interiors to be in good condition, compared to some major operator’s buses which are sometimes dirty.

Having poodled around Trowbridge, we were on our way to Melksham, having only stopped a couple of times to let people off. Progress was going well as was time keeping, but that was soon over when we reached Melksham town centre. The traffic was clogged up, with a mix of commuter and school run traffic. What doesn’t help is the two set’s of traffic lights and a mini roundabout all in a short distance from each other. This particular service is given tighter timings than the other services outside of the rush hour, which I find rather odd. It’s given 8 minutes to do Semington to Melksham, and in the middle of the day, when it’s quieter, it’s given 12 minutes. It took us around 15 minutes to do Semington to Melksham. I also noted a couple of bus stop flags that still have ‘First’ on them, on part of the route where the 234 used to operate, but they pulled out of the route in 2015.

From Melksham, it was well loaded with college students. The service now runs fast to Chippenham, one of the only northbound services to skip out the village of Lacock.

We arrived into Chippenham Town Bridge around 10 minutes late. I was going to take it to the bus station, but got off here as we were late and didn’t want to miss the 09:20 town route. Turns out it was 09:20 after all though. I got the time from Traveline South West, however the timetable at the bus stop suggested it was 09:30 for the route 44A.
The Faresaver operated Optare Solo turned up at 09:15, and the driver got out, and got back in at 09:25, so obviously it is 09:30 then!

Faresaver YJ10 MGX at Chippenham Town Bridge on the route 44A town circular service

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I told the driver I’d be going round the whole route, just to save him asking me where I am actually going (which has happened to me a lot of times in the past) but I was the only one getting on, which is no surprise really as I can’t imagine many people going home already.

We went round a few estates that I haven’t even heard of before (and I used to be a pizza delivery driver in the area) but we certainly picked up a few passengers, mostly using bus passes. I felt like the odd one out, everyone knew everybody on board, dishing out the gossip about who passed away and who did what at number 12. We came back to town 12 minutes later with a load of around 12 passengers.

I jumped off for a power walk up to Chippenham Bus Station for the 09:55 route 35 to Castle Combe.

The vehicle was another Faresaver Optare Solo. Loading’s were light with only a couple of passengers onboard. I didn’t do the whole route, I was only taking this to Willowbank on the outskirts of Chippenham, the nearest stop to Bumpers Farm Industrial Estate. I went here to visit the Faresaver yard to see what I could spot and to see what was knocking about, as Faresaver also operates as NextBus, leasing out and buying/selling buses.

Former Sunray East Lancs Myllenium vehicle at Bumpers Farm Industrial Estate, now stored out of use

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So after a brief visit and logging of sightings, I set back to Willobank for the return 35 to Chippenham Town, formed of the same Solo I got off earlier.

It was then time to leave Chippenham and board the 11:05 X31 Chippenham to Bath Faresaver service. First operations have only just ceased in this area, as they scrapped the 231 route, leaving Faresaver to operate the route. Vehicles vary on this route from Optare Solo’s to ALX400 decker’s. I was kind of hoping to try out one of their MCV eVolutions, but the 11:05 was formed of MAN Wright Meridian FJ09 NZK.
The X31 basically follows the route of the former 231 route, which it always has been with just a couple of minor variations. One could assume the ‘X’ means express, or direct, however the route divert round the housing estates of Corsham, and pulls away from the A4 at a couple of places. It is booked to take 1 hour and 12 minutes to do the entire journey, if you took the train it would only take 18 minutes. Not many people on this bus were doing the entire journey though, the bus is always handy for serving the towns in between where there is no train service.

Arriving into Bath, we pulled into the bus station rather than stopping outside, with the absence of First’s 231, this leaves a bay free for Faresaver to use. There was an hour free in Bath, which I built into the plan for a PNB and lunch break, so me and my mate wandered around to the coach park and stocked up on food. The Riverside coach park is considerably smaller to what it used to be, and nowadays is a drop off/pick up point.

We then headed to the Grand Parade to pick up the X76 service. This route is a one-a-day return service from Marlborough to Bath and return, operated by AD Rains. In the school term, It’s a school vehicle which after dropping at the Marlborough schools, it does a round trip to Bath, and returns in time to do the afternoon school run. Last time I did this, it was a S724 KNV, an SLF Dennis Dart.

This time it was Jonckheere Modulo bodied Volvo B7R FL02 ZYA.

AD Rains FL02 ZYA in Bath operating the X76 Bath to Marlborough

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Last time I did the route on the Dart, it was full with every seat taken, but today’s loading’s was rather light, with only 8 other passengers on board. I told the driver I was going to Calne, as there was no stop bell on the vehicle:

Me: “I’m going to Calne”
Driver: “Oh are you!?”

He looked at my ticket and just shrugged, probably not seen a Wilts Day Rover before. The route is almost direct, and only pulls into a couple of villages. It was non stop from Bath to the village of Bromham (between Melksham and Calne). I thought this fast running would have made us early, possibly stopping somewhere to wait for time, but actually we were only just pushing on time as it was.

The ride itself was rather comfortable, compared to the Dart which got a battering being thrown around along country lanes with potholes. It was surprisingly tidy inside and practically intact, considering it’s used on a school run.
Calne was reached and we arrived at the town hall a minute early after a non-stop run from Bromham. Just as well, as our next bus out was just coming down the road! What was supposed to be a 20 minute wait turned into a 1 minute leap from one bus to another.

We stepped onboard Stagecoach operated route 55. The driver took a look at my ticket, shrugged and said “erm…OK, whatever”. Usually if it’s a day rover printed from a stagecoach machine, you don’t get any puzzled drivers, in fact I’m sure I’ve shown one to this driver before and got on ok, but as this is from a Faresaver machine, he now doesn’t know what it is.
Still I didn’t have to pull the leaflet out, he let us on anyway, still looking bewildered .

The vehicle is E400 bodied Scania VX61 FKE, fleet number 15731, which has Bowood advertising on one side, and Stagecoach standard livery on the other.
We sat at the top front window seat, which was in a bit of a state, worn seats, biscuit crumbs and half eaten biscuits everywhere and the panels needed a bit of a clean! I understand that the food may have been recent, and you can’t expect cleaners to be on the case straight away, but the stains certainly looked like they have been there a while.

I don’t rate the 55 route that much, I do find it quite a uninteresting route, that is my personal opinion of course. I don’t know why, but it might be because it’s not much of a scenic route. When you approach Swindon, the route is far from over. You get the added bonus of a free tour around Swindon’s Council estates.

Swindon Bus Station was finally reached, and there was a 2 hour free time built in to my plan to basically do whatever. My mate went off into town, whilst I headed out on a Thamesdown route 13 to Cheney Manor to see what was around in the depot. The buses were quite full as it was school kicking out time, the worst time of the day I find! Still, it was only a short ride to Cheney Manor, the new home for Stagecoach Swindon. There wasn’t much there, though being a weekday afternoon I’m not surprised but I did manage to cop the two Plaxton Premier training vehicles.

I then headed back to town on another Stagecoach Dart. The plan was to go out and ride Thamesdown vehicles I needed to go on, but with school brats everywhere, people going home etc it was a bit off putting. I find Swindon makes me feel unsafe, I feel like I can’t just whip out the notepad and camera and expect to get left alone.

Instead I found a quiet spot on a wall and jotted down the buses that passed me for an hour. I met up with my mate who was sitting at the end of the bus station waiting for me. He didn’t spend long in town at all, saying it was run down with chav’s all over the place.

I felt a bit safer with someone being with me, and got some phot’s of vehicles leaving the bus station, even got a nice wave from the APL driver on the route 74

APL Optare Solo MX55 BYC in Swindon on the 74 to Lechlade

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The bus station is in dire need of a re-fit, probably the worst bus station I’ve been to, but I suspect there’s worst out there that I haven’t been to yet, if you know of any, let me know!

We then got Stagecoach Route 49 back to Swindon with Enviro400 15971. Last time I was on this vehicle was at Cheney Manor, going through the bus wash. Considering it was 17:10, it wasn’t that busy, though the local routes to Highworth etc were wedged.
Even spotted an ex-Fosseway Reeve Burgess bodied Renault on the outskirts of Swindon, now privately owned as some sort of van:

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We arrived into Trowbridge on time, and went home via the Chip Shop to finish off a respectively good day out.