Friday 25 July 2014

90 : Should Have Been 100

In 1914, Leicester Corporation Tramways planned a motor bus route. Timetables were printed and vehicles ordered.
But an eccentric old man with a weird moustache and a spike on his hat (used, fbb understands, for storing doughnuts) created an horrific kerfuffle and the buses were requisitioned by the military.
So it was 1924 before they tried again. On 24th July a route began from Humberstone Gate via Evington Road to its junction with Evington Lane.
Bus 5 was typical of those early days. The terminus was St Philips Church.
So it was that yesterday, precisely 90 years after that first run, fbb was in Leicester to enjoy yet another Heritage bus "launch" from First. A substantial collection of elderly gentlemen assembled in Leicester's Town Hall Square ...
... and, efficiently together, four vehicles drew up.

Two were Leyland PD3s, fleet numbers 48 ...
... and 90 ...
... both magnificently preserved by members of the Leicester Transport Heritage Trust ...
... who had organised the day. And organised it splendidly, too. It was helped by the fact the LTHT head honcho had been at the Sheffield, Rotherham and Doncaster celebrations; yesterday had a very familiar feel about it.

In front of the two PD3s stood the star of the show. KP54 AZL ...
... had been repainted by the lads at Rotherham paint shop in the post-1961 cream and three maroon stripe livery ...
... complete with authentic fleet names etc.
This was the heroic work of Darren Sentance and his gang, rapidly gaining a reputation for skill and attention to detail.
But the superstar of the day was Darren's recreation of one of the originals, bus 5 as pictured above, metamorphosed from KX05 MJF.
And what a beauty she has become.
Even the curly script lettering for the manager's name has been reproduced in finest detail.
There was a cavalcade of all four motors along the original route to St Philips Church ...
... continuing to the Racecourse for the customary speeches from Managing Director Nigel Eggleton and his Worshipful the Mayor.
Unusually, the Mayor's chat was actually interesting; remembering his late night bus trips to train at swimming aged 8; back on the last bus and woken at his stop by the conductor.

There was an expurgated history of the Company ...
... by the aforementioned Mr Greenwood and LTHT member Ken Johnson had brought along a selelction of his 1:76 models.
Sorry they didn't photograph well! Of course, there was a buffet with lots of lovely fresh fruit to quench the thirst.

As a final tribute to the new look for First Bus, four of the specially branded modern Leicester deckers joined the line up at the Racecourse.
The sun shone, the birds sang and the enthusiasts drooled. Well done all concerned; a truly splendid advert for a dedicated enthusiastic and forward looking nostalgic bus company!

Thanks for the invite.
Team First, eh? Eat your heart out, Glasgow!

There will be more from Leicester later next week.

P.S. fbb nearly forgot the staircase panel ...
... and the freebee brochure ...
... photographed atop fbb's overnight bag on the 1620 departure from Waterloo yesterday; which by 1603 was passing Hook station on the approaches to Basingstoke!!! Dashed clever these SouthWest Trains drivers ...
... or mayhap the joys of modern GPS technology.

 Next blog : Saturday 26th July 


  1. That single decker, in particular, looks beautiful.

    Memo to bus company corporate image designers: Please, please can we go back to livery schemes that follow the lines of the vehicle, with straight chunks of colour, with suitably contrasting secondary colours? I don't mind what colour you choose, although green is always pleasant, but let's finally dispense with all those swirls, swoops and diagonals. They are so dated now. Look how dignified that single decker looks, with colours that follow the straight lines of the vehicle.

  2. It has been reported that the single-decker has already got 'dinged' before properly re-entering service in its heritage livery. Always the way.