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  PREVIOUS ROYAL BLUE  
     
 

Background

 

Our Royal Blue Runs were established in 2002 so that owners and their passengers can relive the pleasures of long distance luxury coach travel for which their carefully preserved vehicles were originally intended.  The aim is to follow original Royal Blue routes as closely as possible and to travel at a leisurely pace redolent of the times.  The runs also create a wonderful spectacle for innocent bystanders and dedicated photographers alike, thanks to the hard work and resources the owners have devoted to restoring and maintaining their fine coaches.


A lot of work goes into planning the runs from selecting routes from the extensive Royal Blue network and researching the original drivers’ instructions and passenger timetables, preparing maps and outline routing, driving the routes to develop detailed instructions allowing for modern
day features and constraints, organising refreshment stops, obtaining parking permissions, to identifying potential accommodation for a dozen or more coaches and their passengers.  Despite all the preparations, final timings are hard to judge whether due to roadworks or things that might pique the interest of crews along the way.   The coaches do not travel in close convoy so as not to inconvenience other road users.  Some drivers have also been known on occasion to deviate from the intended route (unintentionally!).   
Overall the focus is on education and enjoyment and we hope that however you take part you share in the pleasure.

 

2019 Route

An illustrative overview of the 2019 routes is given here and outlined below. 

The ‘positioning run’ on Thursday 20 June saw participating coaches converging on the Coventry / Birmingham area.  The journey for those vehicles travelling from Berkshire linked up at Henley on Thames with a former Associated Motorways route from Portsmouth to Birmingham which was operated jointly by Royal Blue and Midland Red (usually a Royal Blue northbound and Midland Red southbound one day and the reverse the following day).  The Royal Blue vehicle changed daily as the coach duty also worked to / from Bournemouth.  From Henley the route goes via Wallingford to Oxford then through Banbury and Southam to Coventry for Birmingham.

 

 

 

 

 

Day 1 (Friday 21 June) of the main Royal Blue Run departed from the National Express Coach Station, Digbeth and followed part of the former Elliott Brothers Royal Blue route from Ilfracombe to Derby that operated in the early 1930s.  At the time the Elliott Bros coach stop was at the nearby Smithfield Garage.  The route was followed as far as Lichfield passing through Sutton Coldfield. 

The continuation to Liverpool was part of the route begun by Tourist Saloon Coaches from Southampton.  Tourist (including this service) was absorbed in the Royal Blue network in 1935 and the route was extended back to start from Bournemouth.  Although it was later integrated into Associated Motorways, it remained the preserve of Royal Blue vehicles into the 1970s.  From Lichfield the route goes via Rugeley, Newcastle under Lyme, Knutsford, Warrington and Prescot to Liverpool passed along Skelhorne Street near the Ribble coach station with a short stop at Mann Island.

Day 1 concluded in Chester and the route from Liverpool formed part of the Liverpool – Cardiff service operated jointly by Western Welsh and Crosville.  It started in 1965 and was included in Associated Motorways timetables, becoming part of the Traws-Cambria network.  It ran from Skelhorne Street coach station, sometimes calling there having started from the Crosville bus station in Edge Lane.  Coaches used the Queensway/Birkenhead tunnel under the Mersey going via Ellesmere Port into Chester.

 

 

 

1951 Royal Blue Bristol LL No. 1250 sweeps round to Mann Island in front of the iconic Liver Building in Liverpool towards the end of Day 1. © H Billington

 

Day 2 (Saturday 22 June) continued the Liverpool – Cardiff route as far as Newtown going from Chester via Wrexham, Oswestry and Welshpool.  The service from Liverpool continued south via Llanidloes, Rhayader and Builth Wells to Brecon and Cardiff , originally going from Rhayader to Builth Wells via Newbridge-on-Wye, but from the summer of 1971 via Llandrindod Wells.  From June 1979, however, the first of the services marketed as Traws Cambria was introduced from Bangor to Cardiff, via Newtown.  On its 40th anniversary, therefore, it was appropriate that this route was followed south from Newtown (from Builth Wells onwards it is virtually the same as the route used by the service from Liverpool).  Interestingly, Service T4 continues today, deviating to serve some other villages albeit with very similar timings to 40 years ago.  From Newtown, the 2019 Royal Blue Run continued to Llandrindod Wells, Builth Wells, Bronllys and Brecon to Merthyr Tydfil.   

 

1953 Royal Blue Bristol LS No. 2200 and 1969 Crosville Bristol RE No. CRG103 climb away from Newton on Day 2. © H Billington

 

  The starting point for Day 3 (Sunday 23 June) was near Treherbert which coaches reached by coming either down from the Heads of the Valleys Road (A465) or up the valley from the Cardiff direction.  The Treherbert to Cheltenham route followed was part of an Associated Motorways service that had its origins with Red & White and Royal Blue in the Elliott Brothers’ era in the early 1930s.  Royal Blue RE blinds from 1969 still included the Treherbert destination as, in the late 1960s, there was a through summer only service from there to Salisbury, via Pontypool, Cwmbran, and the old Severn Bridge, with connections to Bournemouth and Portsmouth. From Treherbert the route went down the valley via Porth to Pontypridd and then via Nelson, Ystrad Mynach, Pontypool, Usk, Raglan, Monmouth, Ross-on-Wye and Gloucester for Cheltenham where the 2019 run terminated.
     

Western Nation Bristol SUL4A No. 425 leads Red & White Bristol RE No. RC968 and Royal Blue Bristol LS No. 1286 from the TV&GWOT fleet over the mountain to Treherbert at the start of Day 3.

     
 

The authenticity can be seen from the map on this 1934/5 Associated Motorways’ timetable leaflet.  At stages in the history, Royal Blue services specifically operated to Liverpool and to Treherbert

       

2019 Participating coaches for some or all of the Run

Fleet no

Reg No

Type

Date

Company

279

EMW284

Bristol L6B/Beadle C32R

1947

Wilts & Dorset

1250

LTA729

Bristol LL6B/Duple C37F

1951

Royal Blue

1286

MOD973

Bristol LS6G/ECW C39F

1952

Royal Blue

1299

OTT98

Bristol LS6G/ECW C39F

1953

Royal Blue

2200

OTT43

Bristol LS6G/ECW C39F

1953

Royal Blue

26

MMR553

Leyland Tiger Cub/Harrington Wayfarer C41C

1955

Silver Star (WN)

2267

56GUO

Bristol MW6G/ECW C39F

1961

Royal Blue

2270

253KTA

Bristol MW6G/ECW C39F

1962

Royal Blue (WN)

425

275KTA

Bristol SUL4A/ECW C33F

1962

Western National

TCR960

960HTT

AEC Reliance / Willowbrook Viscount C41F

1962

Devon General (Grey Cars)

1423

EDV505D

Bristol MW6G/ECW C39F

1966

Royal Blue (WN)

U1766

JAX117E

Bristol MW/ECW B45F

1967

Red & White Services

830

PTX830F

AEC Reliance/Plaxton Panorama I C41F

1968

Neath & Cardiff Luxury Coaches

RC968

OAX9F

Bristol RELH/6L/ECW C41F

1968

Red & White Services

ERG52

UFM52F

Bristol RELL6G/ECW DP50F

1969

Crosville

CRG103

AFM103G

Bristol RE/ ECW C47F

1969

Crosville

CRG106

AFM106G

Bristol RE/ ECW C47F

1969

Crosville

CRG111

AFM111G

Bristol RE/ ECW C47F

1969

Crosville

1460

OTA632G

Bristol RE/ECW C45F

1969

Royal Blue

2380

OTA640G

Bristol RE/ECW C45F

1969

Royal Blue

1006

B106JAB

Leyland Tiger 245/Plaxton Paramount 3200 MkII C46Ft

1985

Midland Red West

XC262

C262GUH

Leyland Tiger / Plaxton C70F

1986

National Welsh

 

 
     
  Previous Royal Blue Runs  
     
  We have been organising vintage coach runs for Royal Blue and Associated Motorways ‘on-hire’ vehicles over traditional routes since 2002 and so far have covered:  
     
 
2002 Taunton – Ilfracombe – Tiverton
   
2003 Bournemouth – Weymouth – Exmouth
   
2005 125th Anniversary Run - London (Victoria) - Bournemouth - Exeter
   
2005 125th Anniversary Run - Exeter - Penzance - Exeter
   
2006 Cheltenham – Weston-super-Mare – Exeter
   
2007 Cheltenham – Bath – Trowbridge – Blandford Forum – Weymouth
   
2008 Cheltenham – Radstock – Taunton – Westward Ho! – Bude – Polzeath –   Tintagel – Exeter
   
2009 Cheltenham – Bath – Yeovil – Weymouth – Swanage – Bournemouth – Portsmouth
   
2009 National Centenary Run - Penzance – Plymouth – Taunton – Bristol – Cheltenham – Cannock – Newcastle-under-Lyme – Manchester – Glasgow – Dundee – Aberdeen
   
2010 Stevenage – Hitchin – Luton – Slough – Reading – Newbury – Andover – Salisbury – Yeovil – Taunton – Minehead – Bude – Newquay – Porthleven – Penzance – St Ives – Princetown – Exeter
   
2011 Oxford – Weston-super-Mare – Taunton – Exeter – Bude – Padstow – Newquay - Hannafore – Looe – Tavistock – Lewdown – Exeter
   
2012 High Wycombe - Reading - Hungerford - Salisbury - Wincanton - Exeter - Torbay - Salcombe - Plymouth - Bodmin - Exeter - Taunton - Wells - Bath
   
2013 London - Sidcup - Maidstone - Canterbury - Margate - Ramsgate - Dover - Folkestone - Rye - Hastings - Eastbourne - Brighton - Worthing - Arundel - Chichester - Portsmouth - Southampton - Salisbury - Marlborough - Swindon - Cirencester - Cheltenham
   
2014 London  (Victoria) - Esher - Guildford - Farnham - Alresford - Winchester - Romsey - Bournemouth - Wimborne Minster - Blandford Forum - Yeovil - Montacute - Langport - Bridgwater - Taunton - Exeter - Minehead - Wheddon Cross - Dunkery Beacon - Porlock Weir - Minehead - Watchet - Bridgwater
   
2015 Windsor – Bracknell – Wokingham – Hartley Wintney – Basingstoke – Andover – Salisbury – Yeovil – Exeter – Launceston – Davidstow – Wadebridge – Newquay – Portreath – Hayle – St Ives – Penzance – Camborne – Redruth – Bodmin – Launceston – Tavistock – Plymouth – Exeter
   
2016 London - Maidenhead - Reading - Newbury - Chippenham - Bath - Keynsham - Bristol - Bath - Shepton Mallet - Blandford Forum - Bournemouth - Wareham - Lulworth Cove - Christchurch - Milford - Brockenhurst - Lyndhurst
   
2017 Northampton - Bicester - Newbury - Andover - Winchester - Southampton - Bournemouth - Poole - Wareham - Weymouth - Bridport - Lyme Regis - Sidmouth - Exeter - Honiton - Yeovil - Sherborne - Shaftesbury - Salisbury - Stockbridge - Basingstoke - Windsor
   
2018 London (VCS) – Caterham - East Grinstead – Broadbridge Heath - Petworth – Liphook – Winchester – Romsey – Bournemouth – Poole – Wareham – Dorchester – Crewkerne – Chard – Taunton – Exeter – Tiverton – Barnstaple – Ilfracombe – Simonsbath - Minehead – Wellington - Taunton
   
2019 (Henley-on-Thames – Oxford – Banbury – Coventry –) Birmingham – Lichfield – Newcastle-under-Lyme – Warrington – Liverpool – Chester – Wrexham – Oswestry – Newtown – Builth Wells – Brecon – Merthyr Tydfill – Treherbert – Pontypridd – Pontypool – Usk – Monmouth – Ross-on-Wye – Gloucester - Cheltenham
 
     
 

 
 

Royal Blue coaches at Exeter Coach Station

 
 
The line up for the 2011 Royal Blue Run departure from Polperro – many of the same vehicles will take part in 2012. Stopping for a comfort break and photo opportunity in Callington later on 19th June 2011 The ascent and subsequent descent through Cheddar Gorge was spectacular for passengers and photographers alike, despite the rain.
  2012 Royal Blue Run  
Day 1, the coaches assemble prior to departure from Hughenden Manor, High Wycombe, courtesy of the National Trust. Coaches two rows deep park up in Teignmouth early in Day 2 Towards the end of Day 2, coaches draw in to the bus station at Kingsbridge
Day 3 began in Plymouth bus & coach station with another extensive line-up Day 3, en route The end of the Royal Blue Run 2012 in Bath coach station, although many had a hundred miles or more to travel home
 
 

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