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.
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
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
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
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.