Friday, 14 September 2018

Shanklin's Pony, Menndip Mule ...

... Dorset Donkey or even An Axminster Ass?
2017 was not a good season for former a Isle of Wight busman's open top service along part of the Jurassic Coast. The weather was poor all summer, business was thin and then there was the Horror of Haven Court! A couple of stroppy residents of a "seniors" block of flats upset the boss by complaining about noise, exhaust fumes, danger at the bus stops and ingrowing toenails. The couple are well known locally for their predilection to grumble about almost anything. But it all made headline on some typical summer slack news days

Herewith some of the newsbites as published nationally (!) on the Daily Mail on-line edition

Angry Devon pensioners 'staged a vendetta campaign' to drive classic tour bus out of idyllic town as operator claims wheel nuts were sabotaged and abuse was hurled at drivers.

Noise and fumes omitted from vintage 1950s buses is thought to have upset residents in retirement flats.

Frustrated owner Derek Gawn claims he and his drivers have been targeted by furious locals in Devon.

They have allegedly dangerously loosened wheel nuts on his buses and deliberately blocked them in. 

Hoaxer set up fake Facebook accounts giving service low reviews and pretending to be angry councillor

Unfortunately the boss responded by filling his face

book page with venom about Seaton. Apparently nobody in Seaton wanted his open top bus, and he would only return if the Council built him a layby and coughed up a donation of £30,000 to pay for low emission buses.  Of course, both of those were about as likely as Elvis Presley selling his chip shop in Sunderland.

It was all rather unfortunate and, frankly, badly handled all-round.

But, like an aged pop singer on yet another farewell tour, the open toppers DID return this season but just for the potentially lucrative school holidays weeks. And for absolutely the very last time - ever. (Unless they come back next year.)

The former Shanklins Pony open top RE ...
... rebranded as a Mule for an unsuccessful operation in the Mendips ...
... (seen above on holiday back in Shanklin) has been sold and 2018 will definitely be its last season as part of Derek's operation.

From sporadic personal observation, fbb reckons that the service ought to have had a successful season.

Again in "heart on sleeve" mode Derek (the boss) has Facebooked some details of his season's finances.

£9,500 : fuel
£6,000 : wages
£4,000 : insurance, tax
£3,000 : volunteer staff expenses**
£6,000 : vehicle hire
£1,000 : commission
£1,000 : accountancy
£2,000 : publicity
£3,000 : vehicle maintenance
£1,000 : admin expenses
£1,000 : sundries

£37,500 : total costs

** Management was provided by three "volunteers" claiming expenses only.

45 days in service

From this you can easily see that he needed to take £833.33 per day just to stand still, or about £400 per bus on his two-bus service. (click on the timetable for a more readable size)
His social media page does not reveal how much he actually took; but he refers to "the tiniest of operating surpluses".

fbb has a pretty good feel for this scenario as a result of his operation on the Isle of Wight ...  
... but he had a modest coach private hire business as well - and still didn't make enough money to pay himself.

On 2nd September, the very last day of operation ever (or not?), the festivities ended with a parade of seven open top buses between Seaton and Lyme Regis. They all ran along Seaton Esplanade and re-appeared outside Hansfords Undertakers just along the road from from fbb's palatial mansion.
Very convenient for fbb and Mrs in a few years, eh?

Bus spotters may amuse themselves by identifying the vehicles. The yellow one is ex Southern Vectis and, in a possibly prophetic pose of the "Pony", fbb managed to get it out of focus. Here are all seven.
It is not certain, but customers resident at the Undertakers did not seem to be very interested in the event.

Previous operators (top to bottom) include ...

Seaford Coaches
Roselyn (difficult to identify, this one)
Fal River
Buses of Somerset
Southern Vectis
Southern Vectis

Surely a feast of delight, especially for Bristol VR and RE aficionados.

And here they all are, lined up in the car park at Lyme Regis after their final run - ever.
Somebody asked fbb if he would be taking the business on.

Erm ... no thanks!
In addition to usual Church "stuff" on Wednesdays, fbb and Mrs are leading the Harvest Festival service on Sunday16th, then preparing and serving a church lunch to at least two dozen folk. Then on Saturday 22nd the twosome set off for a week's "Rail Discovery" holiday in Scotland.

Some reduction of blogging quantity and quality may be expected!
Shopping and further preparation today for the Harvest Lunch! How many bags of small potatoes will we need for 26 people? Thankfully Mrs fbb, in a previous life, was a professional cook and caterer.

 Next "catch-up" blog : Saturday 15th September 

No comments:

Post a Comment