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  PREVIOUS ROYAL BLUE LONG-DISTANCE COACH RUNS  
     
 

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.

 

1951 Royal Blue Bristol LL No. 1250 sweeps in front of the iconic Liver Building in Liverpool during the 2019 run before continuing into Wales to mark the 40th anniversary of the Traws Cambria service. © H Billington

 
 

Royal Blue & Associated Motorway Long-distance Coach Run Routes

The 2022 Royal Blue & Associated Motorways coach run reached compass points from Birmingham in the North, Portsmouth in the South, Gloucester in the West, and London in the East over three days. The vintage coaches set out from Victoria Coach Station, the mass departure formed one of the spectacles in the year-long VCS90 celebrations marking 90 years since this important coaching hub was opened. The run was an intricate combination of joint Royal Blue/ Greyhound, Associated Motorways, Elliott Bros era, and Tourist (later Royal Blue) routes. The 2023 event on 16-18 June will build on this success – further details can be found here.

The 2021 Royal Blue Run (postponed from 2020) marked 140 years since the foundations for Royal Blue were set in 1880 and the Centenary of the registration of the National Omnibus & Transport Company (NOTC) in 1920.  It was also the 20th such Royal Blue Run re-creating the experience of bygone coach travel using traditional vehicles on authentic routes.  This five-day epic trip connected the constituent territories of NOTC’s successors, Eastern, Southern and Western National via Royal Blue’s HQ town of Bournemouth and the HQ towns of NOTC (Chelmsford) and the three National successor companies (ENOC Chelmsford, SNOC & WNOC Exeter) together with the Western and Southern National area depot towns of Weymouth (SNOC Somerset & Dorset area), Plymouth (South Devon & East Cornwall area and Central Repair Works), Newquay (a major joint WNOC Cornwall Area and SNOC North Devon & North Cornwall Depot), Bideford (SNOC North Devon & North Cornwall Area and Central Repair Works relocated during the Second World War blitzing of Plymouth), Taunton (WNOC Somerset & East Devon Area), Trowbridge and Stroud (WNOC Gloucestershire & Wiltshire Area).
 

   

You can sample highlights of the 2021 coach run here:

 
     
  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
   
2021 (Various routes, including North Circular – Epping – Harlow-) Chelmsford - Southend-on-Sea - Basildon - Grays - Dartford - Oxted - Redhill - Reigate - Dorking - Guildford - Farnham - Basingstoke - Winchester - Eastleigh - Southampton - Lyndhurst - Christchurch - Bournemouth - Poole - Wareham - Wool - Weymouth - Dorchester - Bridport - Axminster - Honiton - Exeter - Chudleigh - Ashburton - Buckfastleigh South Brent - Ivybridge - Plymouth - Liskeard - Lostwithiel - St Austell - Truro - Newquay - Wadebridge - Launceston - Holsworthy - Bideford - Barnstaple - South Molton - Wiveliscombe - Taunton - Street - Glastonbury - Shepton Mallet - Frome - Trowbridge - Melksham - Chippenham - Malmesbury - Tetbury - Nailsworth – Stroud
   
2022 London (Victoria Coach Station) - High Wycombe - Oxford - Banbury - Stratford upon Avon - Henley in Arden Birmingham (Digbeth) - Halesowen - Kidderminster - Worcester - Tewkesbury - Gloucester - Stroud - Cirencester - Swindon - Devizes - Salisbury - Fareham - Portsmouth - Petersfield - Farnham - Camberley - Wokingham - Henley on Thames
 
     
 

 
 

Royal Blue coaches at Exeter Coach Station

 
 

From the earliest days of Elliott Brothers’ Royal Blue luxury services, coaches frequented Cheddar Gorge

as this c. 1928 photograph recording a visit to

Gough’s Caves shows.

Part of the authentic re-creation of TV&GWOT’s

Royal Blue Runs saw 1951-vintage Bristol LL6B

(Fleet No. 1250) descending Cheddar Gorge in 2012.

© Colin Billington

Spectacular scenery on the 2018 Royal Blue Run with MW6G 253KTA (2270) on of the 12 participating coaches © Chris Drew
The 2022 run departed from VCS.  OTA640G in white livery also marked the 50 year anniversary of National Express. © S Bigley Coaches including Wilts & Dorset EMW284 and Bristol Greyhound NHY947 set out from VCS into London traffic. © S Bigley Royal Blue LL 1250 (LTA729) paid homage to Digbeth, the home to National Express . © H Billington

TV&GWOT’s LS 1286 (MOD973) led Red & White RE OAX9F out of Birmigham through torrential rain.

© D Williams

The oldest coach to join the 2022 run, JA5515, dates from 1936 originally in the North Western fleet.

© G Tormey

An impressive line-up in Southsea coach park on the final day of the 2022 run. © R Kemble

Newly-restored United Counties Bristol RE coach TBD278G enters Petersfield, far from its home in the North West.

© S Bigley

The finale to the 2022 run was in Henley hosted by the Fawley Hill Railway Society with train rides and museum display

…plus cake to celebrate the successful run and TV&GWOT chairman having owned his Royal Blue coach for 50 years (after its 21 year service life).

 

You can take a virtual trip on our 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017 runs on our Blog and our Facebook page has video coverage from the 2018 and 2019 runs. 

Information about the 2022 Royal Blue Run can be found here and news of 2023 plans here.

 
 

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

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