EATM 50th Anniversary Special

VR385 operating the park and ride at Ashburnham Way
Today was the East Anglia Transport Museum's 50th anniversary of being open to the public as a museum site, where a commemorative event was held to celebrate. Rather sadly, attendance numbers were low both in terms of visitors and visiting vehicles. I'm sure the persistent heavy rain scared off most people, either that or the British Grand Prix took priority. During my stay, just six visiting vehicles were around with the rest of the numbers being made up the with the East Anglia Transport Museum's own stock. Nevertheless it was great to catch up with some good friends, and meet some new chums whilst hiding under shelter from the rain.

Neither First or Anglianbus were able to operate the free park and ride shuttle this time around, resulting in the museum making their own arrangements. Used for most of the day was Eastern Counties ECW bodied Bristol VR VR385 OCK985K. Here it is photographed above by Ashburnham Way Co-op store on a very wet morning run on the park and ride.

London Transport M394 was one of the less frequent visitors today
Free shuttle services were running hourly from the museum site to and from Beccles and Lowestoft using both visiting and native vehicles. I got a chance to travel on two of the vehicles in operation today including prototype ECW B51 bodied Bristol RE VHK177L with Clive Nixon and Sam Larke. We all agreed thar the comfort of the coach and the standard in which the restoration had been completed was simply fantastic; other than the roar from the engine, the interior very much meets that of a modern day equivalent.

Although visiting vehicles numbers were low, most of what did turn up was not just the regular attendees. Making an appearance at the East Anglia Transport Museum was MCW Metrobus Mark I GYE394W. The bus had been new to London Transport in August of 1980 as M394. It is currently kept alongside other preserved buses at the Great Yeldham Transport Collection in Essex. It exists today in a fully restored condition, which has been completed to an excellent standard.

Former Surrey Motors HLP10C seen after a run to Beccles and back
Next up is a bus of many histories, Harrington Grenadier bodied AEC Reliance HLP10C. It appears to have been in and out of preservation, and in and out of active service between that. I believe it had been new to Surrey Motors in 1965 and later passed to Premiere Travel, entering the preservation scene again in 2000 after deteriorating slowly in the yard of Classic Coaches, High Wycombe. In between this it worked for Birds of Ongar and was also acquired for preservation during the mid 1980s. I am unable to find a record of its current ownership, but it is certainly still in preservation having visited the East Anglia Transport Museum on a few occasions over the past few years. Notably, a second former Surrey Motors AEC Reliance currently exists in preservation, this being 669RPA with similar Harrington Cavalier bodywork.

Patrick Burnside's preserved Eastern Counties Bristol L5G KNG711, which celebrated its 65th birthday on Wednesday 1st July, also arrived later in the morning. Once again, it was looking stunning as ever - so good, it looked as though it had just left the paint shop!

The immaculate KRU848 parked up for the morning at the museum
One final visitor was Wilts and Dorset ECW bodied Bristol VR KRU848W. Believe it or not, this particular bus lasted within the Go-Ahead group up until 2009, when it was withdrawn and sent to Ensignbus for onward sale - representing an impressive twenty nine years of service. In 1996, along with a handful of others, she was completely refurbished inside to give it a bit more life. A poster in the window revealed that the bus was one of three at Ensignbus, it read "They were shoe-horned into a corner of their shed in low light conditions. So choice was largely based on instinct...". He later discovered on collection that it was the same Bristol VR which Wilts and Dorset used for around six years to represent the company at a local Wiltshire rally for around seven years. Today it is housed at the Colne Estuary Preserved Buses collection.

Amidst the heavy rain and low numbers, it really wasn't a bad morning - it was certainly made up by the handful of more interesting vehicles which you don't get to see at all the local events. 
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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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