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  EXCURSIONS, DISPLAYS AND OTHER SPECIAL EVENTS
   
 

EXETER – MINEHEAD, EXCURSION – 2 APRIL 2018

On Easter Monday, 2nd April 2018, the Trustees of TV&GWOT and the Devon  General Omnibus Trust (DGOT) arranged an excursion for TV&GWOT Supporters and Members of the Devon General Society to re-create the joint Western National and Devon General Service No. 217 which ran between Exeter and Minehead, via Tiverton and Dulverton.

The origins of this route go back to the 1920s.  It was jointly operated from July 1928, numbered 13A by the National Omnibus & Transport Co. (becoming 217 after the formation of Western National in 1929), and numbered 46 by Devon General (subsequently being changed to 53 in 1930). Both companies operated the route under the same number, 217, from June 1955.

A 24-page booklet was produced to complement the trip and share the experience more widely.  Based on extensive original research and with photographs and material from the archives, it illustrates the evolution of the services through to the present day.

A route description is included updating the Coaching Spotlights that accompanied Greenslades’ Silent Guide in the 1930s.  In combination with period advertisements, it demonstrates how travel and life in general have changed over the decades.

Three vehicles were used on the excursion, representative of the operations in different decades and of the Western National and Devon General fleets:

Devon General 1946 AEC Regal,

Registration No. HTT487, Fleet No. SR487

 

Western National 1951 Bristol LWL5G,

Registration No. LTA772, Fleet No. 1613

Western National 1962 Bristol SUL4A coach,

Registration No. 270KTA, Fleet No. 420.

Pictures are on TV&GWOT’s Facebook page.

While stocks remain copies of the booklet are available to purchase at the discounted price of £3 each including p&p.  

 

   
 
     
 

VICTORIA COACH STATION 85th ANNIVERSARY FESTIVAL – 10-12 MARCH 2017

 
     
 

In March 2017, Victoria Coach Station celebrated its 85th birthday with a three-day Coach Festival. It featured vehicles from every decade since the grand opening on 10th March 1932, showcasing coaches, artefacts and presentations on the history of coach travel in Britain. Modern coaches were displayed alongside preserved vehicles dating from the late 1920s to the 1990s.

The coach station, originally conceived, constructed and operated by a consortium of coach operators coming together under the banner of London Coastal Coaches Ltd (LCC), is now owned and operated by Transport for London. The Festival celebrated the history of the coach station and demonstrated the continuing development of the facilities to meet the needs of the much larger and complex vehicles now using VCS and the people who travel within them.  The heart of the operation remains the imposing 1930s’ Art Deco building on the corner of Buckingham Palace Road and Elizabeth Street. It provides the main passenger entrance with areas containing public facilities for enquiries and booking, seated waiting areas and a range of cafes, shops and snack bars. This building and the canopy behind which covers a significant part of the coach departure area are Grade 2 listed by Historic England.

TV&GWOT assisted TfL in organising the event by encouraging owners of preserved coaches to bring their vehicles to this iconic and nostalgic setting to celebrate its 85th Anniversary. Coaches originally operated by one of the principal express coach companies as well as those which might have been ‘on-hire’ to one of these companies at peak holiday weekends recreated the nostalgic scene.

To mark the occasion, TV&GWOT, in collaboration with the Bus Archive, drew on the LCC records to compile a 32-page booklet celebrating the first 85 years of VCS in pictures.  It includes many previously unseen images spanning the early LCC operations; construction and opening of VCS; and operational views through subsequent decades covering vehicles, passenger facilities and activities ‘behind the scenes’.  A description of the VCS site expansion in the 1960s is followed by a section ‘Wheels to the West’ showing the subsequent design changes in coaches serving the West Country and brought the story up to date. 

The recreation of a bustling coach station with vehicles from across the decades was enjoyed by TfL, coach owners, visitors and the general public on their travels, alike.

While stocks remain copies of the booklet are available to purchase at the discounted price of £5 each including p&p.  

The Gallery below shows the scene at VCS and examples of the coaches which joined the 85th anniversary celebrations:

 

     
 

85th Anniversary branding at Victoria Coach Station © Peter Delaney

     

Coaches assembled under the historic glazed canopy – © Peter Delaney (left) and © Colin Billington (centre &  right)

     
     
     
     

Preserved coaches assemble from fleets across the British Isles © Colin Billington

     
Coaches ventured to the international terminal © Colin Billington An overview contrasting old and new © Peter Delaney Leaving for home © Helen Billington
     
 

(C) Copyright The Thames Valley & Great Western Omnibus Trust

Company Registered in England No. 5035702.  Registered Charity No. 1125980