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ROYAL BLUE RUN - 17/18–21 JUNE 2021

 
     
 

The 2021 Run

Thanks to the dedication and commitment of private coach owners and their volunteer crews the Royal Blue Run 2021 successfully completed the 750 mile epic journey linking National area depots from their origins in Chelmsford with the home of Royal Blue in Bournemouth and area depots throughout the West County.

TV&GWOT’s Royal Blue LS 1286 turns into Moulsham Street, Chelmsford in front of the site of the steam bus works set up by Thomas Clarkson before establishing ‘National’,  the National Steam Car Co. Ltd, later on 13 February 1920 becoming the National Omnibus & Transport Co, Ltd. Unable to travel as passengers due to Covid limits, the White Bus team brought their own bus – a welcome addition, appropriately charting the company’s 100 year heritage in vinyl and displaying a digital Stroud destination. It is pictured in Corporation Street Taunton alongside Royal Blue LL 1250. Royal Blue and Associated Motorways are natural companions on the TV&GWOT runs and here Crosville RELH CRG103 and Royal Blue Leopard 3547 depart from Stroud (the WNOC Gloucestershire & Wiltshire area depot established by ‘National’ in October 1919)

An illustrated authoritative publication about the origins is in preparation and will include highlights from the run.  Meanwhile extensive coverage, including videos, can be enjoyed on the TV&GWOT Facebook page.

Background

The 2021 Royal Blue Run was the event postponed from 2020 designed to mark 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).  It was also the 20th such Royal Blue Run re-creating the experience of bygone coach travel using traditional vehicles on authentic routes.

The 2021 route was designed to connect together 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)

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It was an epic journey, best enjoyed by luxury coach, and scheduled over four principal days Friday 18 June to Monday 21 June.  Some coaches travelled to Essex on Thursday 17th, taking the opportunity to trace routes that by necessity endured London’s North Circular albeit rewarded with a run through Epping Forest.

Thursday 17 June – Various routes, including North Circular, Epping, Harlow

Friday 18 June – Harlow, Chelmsford, Southend-on-Sea, Basildon, Grays, Dartford, Oxted, Redhill, Reigate, Dorking, Guildford, Farnham, Basingstoke, Winchester, Eastleigh, Southampton

Saturday 19 June – Southampton, Lyndhurst, Christchurch, Bournemouth, Poole, Wareham, Wool, Weymouth, Dorchester, Bridport, Axminster, Honiton, Exeter, Chudleigh, Ashburton, Buckfastleigh South Brent, Ivybridge, Plymouth.

Sunday 20 June – Plymouth, Liskeard, Lostwithiel, St Austell, Truro, Newquay, Wadebridge, Launceston, Holsworthy, Bideford, Barnstaple

Monday 21 June – Barnstaple, South Molton, Wiveliscombe, Taunton, Street, Glastonbury, Shepton Mallet, Frome, Trowbridge, Melksham, Chippenham, Malmesbury, Tetbury, Nailsworth, Stroud.

COVID Restrictions

The Royal Blue Run 2021 endured many restrictions to comply with COVID rules in terms of passenger numbers and social gatherings, and was impacted by measures venues had to impose along the way.  These factors, plus the long journeys and the consequences of some atrocious weather made things particularly challenging in 2021 both for crews and those hoping to photograph passing vehicles.

The successful outcome and the tremendous photographs that have been shared are all the more remarkable for this and TV&GWOT would like to thank sincerely all those involved whether as owners, crews, spectators or photographers

 

 
 
 
 

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.

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

Information about previous events can be found here.   

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 run. 

 

 

 

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

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