Thursday 22 September 2016

Kingsbridge 2016: A Unique Day

There's nowhere quite like Kingsbridge.

And there's nothing quite like our annual Kingsbridge Vintage Bus Running Day, which is unique for its scenery, its authenticity and its team spirit. This year's event was the most successful yet, with almost 6,000 free rides given to the public, and was characteristically full of adventure.

SUL 420 awaits the arrival of a good shepherd.
Photo: Luke Farley
The terrain poses unique challenges for the drivers, who must always expect the unexpected. These sheep were encountered by Driver Luke Farley and clippie Zoe Williams on their way to East Portlemouth with Bristol SUL coach 420. We were once treated to a story by a former Western National driver who'd encountered cows crossing on this route in the 1960s, halting the bus on its way down a hill, and causing significant wheelslip on its way back up! Now we (including Luke and Zoe's full load of passengers) know how he felt...

Meanwhile, passengers on SUS 600 looked-on with relish as its Driver and Conductor grappled with a huge fallen tree branch in a narrow lane near East Charleton. This had apparently been pulled down minutes earlier by a tractor and trailer carrying hay, and had to be moved to a safe place to enable the bus to get underway. Following a quarter mile-walk (drag?) and much applause, the bus eventually did....

An unSUSpecting 600 at Gara Bridge earlier in the day.
Photo: Nigel Canham

Whilst it certainly poses challenges, the terrain compensates with spectacular views of the unique South Devon scenery. Our free luxury coach tours to Blackpool Sands (formerly a location for scenic Royal Blue publicity shots) were once again very popular, as were trips operated by visiting open-top vehicles.

Bristol LS 1376 is chased through Torcross by a Leyland PS2 (FNV 557).
Photo: 'Torbay Bus Boy' on Flickr
Passengers aboard Leyland PD2 LRV 992 enjoy Kingsbridge Estuary.
Photo: 'Torbay Bus Boy' on Flickr

In addition to our 5,972 passengers, others turned out with their cameras to enjoy the spectacle of the buses at work. Many terrific photographs are appearing online and we're always pleased to see how the vehicles looked as they assumed their place in the landscape. In many cases, it was as if they'd never been gone.

Bristol VR 1141 looks at home in the South Hams as it heads for Slapton.
Photo: William Spencer

Kingsbridge is a hugely sociable running day, made great by the people. Our visitors are a unique mix of local people, keen to experience an important historical aspect of their area, and enthusiasts from across the country. This makes for a lively atmosphere on board the vehicles and in the bus station itself.

Bristol FLF 2019 and LD 1943 await departure to Salcombe, the day's
most popular destination. Photo: Paul Featherstone

Authenticity is an important aspect of the day, as our mission is to educate the public in how bus and coach travel has evolved in the area; to that end we take great care to ensure that the correct vehicle types are used on the various routes. This recreates the original experience precisely and gives rise to some unique, magical recreations as history comes to life in all the right places. Even the former Western National depot in Kingsbridge, closed in 1971, came back to life as our overspill yard for the day, evoking scenes from a half-century ago.
The former Kingsbridge depot then, now a factory for Jades Electronics.
Photos: TV&GWOT (DS)

We're very lucky to have the support of many vehicle owners to compliment the Trust's 'home' fleet, and many travel long distances to take part. We're especially grateful to the Isle of Wight Bus Museum who, despite an unavoidable mechanical problem with their bus, beat the odds to attend with this fine Wilts & Dorset Bristol VR as a substitute, surely a first time visitor to Devon.
Bristol VR BFX 666T navigates through the stone walls of Malborough.
Photo: Charissa Bartram

Supporters round off the preparations... and the cake.
Photo: TV&GWOT (DS)
So, we love the terrain, the scenery and the adventures, but the running day is only possible thanks to the help of our Supporters. Many have volunteered their time over several months to help with preparations and planning; on the day itself they crewed buses, acted as controllers and marshalls, they sold programmes and helped our thousands of visitors to get the most from the day. Kingsbridge Running Day is a great team effort with a unique sense of team spirit.

To all our visitors, our sponsors and our Supporters, a heartfelt thank you for making Kingsbridge 2016 such a unique and successful event.

If you'd like to help us stage events like this for the public to enjoy, you might consider joining our Supporters Group. As a Supporter you will enjoy several exclusive benefits of working closely with the Trust, including our quarterly magazine To and Fro'. Visit for more details and join us online today.

1 comment:

  1. My wife (a non-enthusiast) and I attended this year's running day, and despite forgetting to bring a carefully calculated day's rides, managed to do everything we wanted, and see almost everything we wanted.
    My wife is so keen on the day's events that she is already leading the talk about going next year.
    Can't be bad!