The Cornwall Bus Preservation Society in association with the Thames Valley & Great Western Omnibus Trust has been inviting visitors to sunny, warm West Cornwall for vintage bus running days since the original Final VR Running Day on 9 December 2006.

The events are based at Penzance Bus Station and typically take place on the third Sunday in April. 

The network of routes has expanded as the event has grown over the years and routes around West Cornwall now include Penzance to Camborne, St Ives, St Just, Hayle, Marazion/Perranuthnoe, Praa Sands, Paul/Sheffield and out to Sennen Cove and Land’s End with small vehicles going into Mousehole

In 2019, 34 buses and coaches plied 18 routes through the day, with a record breaking number of 6800 passenger journeys being made.


In 2020 a Covid lockdown forced the event to be cancelled.  Not to be defeated by restrictions on gatherings in 2021, CBPS and TV&GWOT mounted a Penzance & West Cornwall Vintage #Busflyby.  22 locally-based vehicles looped between Penzance, Hayle and St Just with the activities streamed via Facebook for enthusiasts to enjoy in their own homes. 

In 2022 CBPS and TV&GWOT returned with a full passenger carrying event on Easter Sunday 17 April.  It was early days since Covid restrictions had eased but renewed enthusiasm for these vintage bus days was demonstrated by nearly 5300 passenger journeys being recorded across the 30 buses and coaches in service over 19 routes.  The 2023 event on 16 April built on this success – further details can be found here.


Programmes are produced by TV&GWOT for each event.  Beyond a record of the vehicles in service and the routes for the running day, these programmes include newly researched articles on aspects of the local transport scene over the years, lavishly illustrated with old photographs and ephemera from the Trust’s Collection.  Recent covers echo local timetable booklets from years gone by. 

Themes addressed in the pages of Penzance Running Day programmes to date include:

  The 2023 cover design (left) was based on the ‘Coronation Year’ Cornwall area timetable from 1953 (70 years ago). A copy from the TV&GWOT archive is shown on the right.    
2023 The Phoenix Rises Again: The Life and Times of TT03 As the restoration of former Truronian Dart TT03TRU was completed by CBPS for the 2023 vintage bus day, including application of distinctive Easy Access transfers, its introduction to the fleet and significant role at Helston-Lizard anniversary celebrations is told.
  Great Western Railway Road Motors – 120th Anniversary 2023 The inauguration of motor bus services by GWR in 1903 to extend the reach of the railway from Helston to the Lizard is celebrated. The rapid growth of services and vehicle numbers around West Cornwall in just a few years is illustrated with images from the archive. Scenes from events to celebrate the 75th, 100th and 110th anniversaries underline the significance.
  From GWR – Then and Now GWR’s Transport Integration Manager 2023 explains the current initiatives to provide continuity of bus and rail operations to benefit passengers building on the company’s pioneering work over a century ago.
  Chill Out Man Gray Lightfoot, renowned poet and bus driver, contributes an amusing poem about the super hero attributes required.

Buses and coaches in picture postcards of West Cornwall – Wish you were here?!

18 pages of picture postcards featuring passenger transport form the horse-drawn era, through the introduction of motor buses, to modern colour postcards with additional local interest in the changing scene. 

  Returning a Grenville-liveried Bedford YRQ to Cornwall

An account of the recovery and restoration of a Bedford YRQ by a CBPS member

  The Modern Cornish Bus Driver’s Song An original poem by Gray Lightfoot hummable to tunes from the operetta “The Bus Drivers of Penzance”
2019 The changing palette of bus liveries in South West Cornwall – More than a century of colour An illustrated history of the liveries of buses operating in an around Penzance from the GWR chocolate and cream of the GWR Road Motors used on the first service to Newlyn and Marazion in October 1903, through the green and cream following the merger with National in 1929, to the variety of liveries for different routes introduced with the First Kernow brand from 2016 onwards.

Penzance Bus Station Remodelled and Reviewed – 115 years as a motorbus terminus

Illustrated history of Penzance bus station over the past 115 years showing changes not just in layout but in the vehicles operating.


By Bus and Coach (and Air) to the Isles of Scilly

Examples of the vehicles operating feeder services within Cornwall as well as those on the islands.


A Century of Coach Tours in and around the Penwith Peninsular

A review of tours from the 1920s to 1980s illustrated by the vehicles and accompanying publicity leaflets.


Re-Creating bygone Travel at Running Days

Photographs from the 1950s and 60s illustrating the locations served by the Penzance Running Days to re-create the scenes more than 50 years on.


From Nationalised Uniformity to First Bus – The years between 1985 and 1995

The visible changes in vehicle types and liveries through this important 10 year period.


Memories of advertising seen on buses in West Cornwall

The types of advertising, design styles and colours as applied to West Cornwall buses from the 1930s to 80s.


Remembering Penzance and West Cornwall Buses in Pictures.

Comparison of buses serving Penzance photographed by one observed in 1952 and another 25 years later.


1927 GWR Guy FBB No. 1268 – YF714 Returns to Penzance after a 10 Year Restoration.

The story of the operational life, rescue and restoration of 1268 as it returns for display at Penzance.


Return of Bristol LH 716 to Penzance after 29 Years

The LH type and the specific history and preservation of Penzance-based 716.

2008 The Mouzel Bus The Mouzel bus traced from its origins in 1919 through a series of diminutive vehicle types to the 1990s.

While stocks remain past event programmes are available to purchase at the discounted price of £3 each including p&p. 

TV&GWOT’s Blog also has an account of the 2016 Penzance event.

The Gallery below shows examples of the vehicles and scenery to be enjoyed at Penzance:










Photos: Helen Billington, Luke Farley, Jack Gordon, Robert Hawkin, Geoff Hobbs, Scott Hunnisett-Croft, Neil Markwick, Peter Nicholls, Alasdair Page, Terry Partridge, David Sheppard, Lionel Tancock and Shane Webster


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