Richards depot visit with three interesting coaches for sale

An impressive line up of coaches at the Richards yard in Guist.
Last week I received an unexpected email from Richards Coaches operations manager Simon Spencer inviting me for a look around the depot on Norwich Road in Guist. So I am told, a few of Richard's drivers and office staff have stumbled across the blog on social media.

Richards are a long established family run coach operator, with a smart and very interesting mix of vehicles. Simon explained how Richards as a company are looking to move forward, update their fleet and become more known for being a top quality coach operator, offering all that would be expected from them - a clean modern vehicle, friendly drivers and excellent customer service. New vehicles are coming in and replacing older VanHool Alizees, including Volvo 9700 GDZ435, Volkswagen Crafter S555BUS, Irizar Century bodied Scania GDZ405 and brand new Unvi Touring GT bodied Mercedes Benz Atego PO15AZU.

The fleet total stands at thirteen, with a registered vehicle allowance standing at fourteen. Richard's have an excellent range of coaches on offer, from a sixteen seat minicoach through to a seventy seat Jonckheere Monaco bodied Volvo B12BT. Just four of the vehicles in the fleet were out of the yard during my visit, so I got to have a good look at all that was available - they are simply top noch and maintained to an excellent standard. Even the two very oldest members of the fleet look just as good as their brand new sisters.

WWX48 had been new to Hargreaves of Morley in 1959, it was
acquired as a source of spares for 5200AH
There are three vehicles at the depot which I've really taken a liking to - all of which I am told Richard's are interested in finding a serious buyer for. In the garage is Yeates Europa bodied Bedford SB1 5200AH, which had been new to Smith's of Wood Norton in 1959. A lot of work has been done to this one, with most of the bodywork redone and it being stored undercover for many years. Alongside it, but kept outside is almost identical WWX48, new to Hargreaves of Morley in 1959. This one has a near enough full interior and full compliment of glass, so would be perfect for a source of spares for 5200AH. As far as I am aware, just five of the type are known to survive - one in use as a caravan in Suffolk on my last count and two in preservation - and obviously, this pair at Guist. If anybody is interested in the vehicles, I am happy to pass on contact - Simon tells me that they would consider any serious buyer who wishes to restore them. Sadly, work halted on 5200AH when owner Richard passed away; being his own personal projects, there was nobody who could take them on within the company.

One of four produced, GDZ5892 is now sadly withdrawn.
The third gem lurking around at Richard depot is GDZ5892, a very rare VanHool T8 Alizee bodied Bedford YNV Venturer. It is one of just four of the combination ever produced, and was withdrawn from service due to a problem with the track rods - quite obviously, parts for the type are scarce and there was no way they could keep it running. It now spends its days parked in the corner where it's quite a struggle to get out of with no seats. I am told that if it wasn't for the fault, it probably would still be in use. I have narrowed it down to being new to Bakers of West Super Mare in January 1987 as C413DML. Now is where I wished I wasn't a student with little money - Richard's are also looking to get rid of this one. Again, anybody seriously interested in preserving it are welcome to send Norwich Buses Blog an email which will be passed on to Richards.

The visit to Richard's is just one of a few exciting things I've promised on social media over this year's "summer" - there's a lot more to follow over the coming weeks! A special thank you is certainly due to Simon for the invite and the team at Richard's for being so helpful in filling in the missing gaps in my fleetlist - that will be on line soon.
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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:
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  1. The Yeates Europa bodied Bedfords 5200AH & WWX48 have now passed to Cyril Kenzie the well known coach operator & vintage coach restorer at Shepreth Cambs. The ex Smiths 5200AH will be restored, with WWX48 being a spares doner.