A 'Swift' visit to Hopton

85 attracted visitors all day, who shared their memories of blue buses
in Great Yarmouth.
Today I spent a couple of hours in Hopton, where the Great Yarmouth Lions were holding their annual fete at the local recreation ground, where a couple of local buses were making a special appearance.

Chris Speed, First Eastern Counties General Manager, brought along his jointly owned preserved Eastern Coachworks bodied AEC Swift 85 WEX685M. In hot pursuit was First Great Yarmouth Wright Streetlite 47506 SN64CRF, at the hands of First Norwich's Sheldon Rees. What a pleasure to spend the afternoon with the both of them, even if we did have a small dispute on the concept of a Flying Banana liveried heritage bus!

The buses were equally popular, attracting those of all constantly during my stay. It was wonderful to hear so many memories and stories of blue Great Yarmouth Transport buses from previous drivers and their families, along with the passengers who used to use them. The top memory seemed to be getting on at the front and getting off in the middle, a concept which is somewhat alien to today's younger generation of bus passengers. The Swift is a real stunner; interestingly, some of the seats which required attention when it was acquired were redone with leather around their base using the same material used on the Wright Streetlites. On the backing of the destination blinds are banterous notes from former drivers about each other, some of which will certainly not be repeated here. Even these are little pieces of history which are lovingly tied up within 85.

During a much darker period is 47506, displaying a Norwich route
Forty two years separate Swift 85 and Streetlite 47506, and only when you hop from one to another making comparisons do the advances of technology in the production of buses really shine. 47506 turned heads with its curvaceous styling and impressed visitors with its high fuel economy, kinetic energy rebuilding system and simply how much First paid for each bus. Many visitors who do not today use the bus were impressed by the smart interior of the Streetlite and commented how the standard of the vehicle exceeded their expectations. It was excellent to see so many children taking an interest in the bus, and pretending to be drivers and passengers alike. One particular chap took a massive interest in the vehicle, and had a thousand and one questions about what each button and switch done; the wheelchair ramp request button by the door appeared to impress him the most. What seemed to impress the visitors the most was the cost of the bus itself, and the individual parts. Alone, each vehicle cost somewhere around £150,000, which includes the approximately £22,000 MicroHybrid Flywheel system. Sheldon surprised one individual with the £300 cost of each black panel above the windscreen, and pointed out that the front end consists of just one main panel, and three along the front bumper. 

Swift 85 and its newer equivalent from above (Chris Speed)
Now, I can't turn down this offer from Chris. Taken during the fete setup in the morning by Chris from the top of an enormous inflatable slide is this aerial shot of 85 and 47506 together on the field. It was Tweeted on WEX685M's Twitter account, which is rather humorous, "Just arrived at Hopton for the Village Fete, one of these young Street things has tagged along, watch and learn son!" - very much a true statement, with the six Wright Streetlites being found on the town network, which was operated by Great Yarmouth Transport; buses out of town were operated by red Eastern Counties buses.

A special thanks goes out to Chris and Sheldon for their company today, which revealed some exciting stuff I look forward to blogging about in the future...
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About Kieran Smith

Norwich Buses Blog was founded in December 2013 by Sam Larke after he left another popular blog, Norwich Bus Page. Since it's launch, the site has grown dramatically, especially whilst written solely by Kieran Smith during 2015. The blog is now in it's third year and we look forward to more success and growth in the future. If you think you'd make a good writer for Norwich Buses Blog, please do get in touch via email: samuel.larke@gmail.com
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