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  WEB NEWS 31  

In this issue of WHOTT Web News we take a brief look at WHOTT Members favourite vehicle and Truronian.          


WHOTT's Your Favourite Vehicle 2008? John Grigg has been busy collating the responses to the 2008 Friends polls.

Many thanks to all those Friends who completed the favourite vehicle and favourite bus station sections of the renewal forms earlier in the year.  You certainly have wide ranging and varied tastes and interests in buses and coaches.  I must admit to being surprised that all your nominated favourites were either buses or coaches.  There was not even as much as a Lipton's delivery boy's bicycle, or a Co-op milk float in your responses, although one Friend who's anonymity I shall preserve did point out that there is more to transport than buses and coaches.  Perhaps it was the next question, which was specifically about your favourite Bus or Coach Station or Garage, which may have subconsciously suggested that it was all about buses and coaches.  If that was the case, I apologise.

Perhaps I should not have been surprised that makes such as Crossley, Dodge, Foden, Gilford, Morris Commercial, Reo, Seddon, Straker-Squire, Thornycroft or Vulcan were not represented in your choices, but I was surprised that one Friend's favourite was a Clarkson Steamer, the last of which was withdrawn from London General Omnibus Company service as long ago as 1919, some 89 years hence!  Does he remember riding on one, I wonder?

There was considerable evidence of the wide geographical spread of Friends' origins and indeed their present location with single references to Alder Valley Bristol VRs generally, London Transport RTs (particularly RT2043), and Southern Vectis Dennis Ace 405 (DL9015) which was one of eight fitted with a Harrington B20F body, and which lasted with Southern Vectis from 1934 to 1959.

There were two other votes for Dennis Aces, one for the Western National/Southern National versions totalling 81 which were delivered over the period 1934 to 1938 and bodied variously by Eastern Counties (35) Brush (30) and Mumford (16) and one vote for a specific 1936 built Ace, Southern National 3650, which had a Dennis built body and was one of three taken over by Southern National from Sully of Chard in 1936; this vehicle survived as a booking office until late in 1963.

Colin Billington's Dennis Mace, ex Southern National 668 (BTA59), attracted one vote as did a Dennis Lancet of Blue Motors of Minehead registered YD4593, built in 1932 with Duple bodywork, that lasted in the fleet until 1940 when it was requisitioned by the War Department.

Blue Motors also provided another nomination in the form of its now preserved 1939 built Leyland Cheetah LZ5 with Harrington dorsal fin C31F bodywork, registered EYA923.

One other Friend expressed a deep fondness for any Touring Coach of Scarlet Pimpernel of Minehead, which amalgamated with Blue Motors in 1954, to form the well known "Scarlet and Blue" company.

Probably one of the rarest vehicles to be nominated was the Sentinel STC4/40 delivered new to Potter of Haytor in 1950, being registered LOD974.  After six years with Potter's "Tor Bus" it passed through two other West Country operators before ending its working days at Porton Down germ warfare establishment in Wiltshire in 1959.  Rescued for preservation in 1981, it has since been restored and is kept in Devon.

Want to read the full story, then become a member and receive our quarterly newsletters.

Bere Regis and District Motor Services Beadle Rochester, KPR688, on a BRMS express service to Gosport and Brighton.  The Beadle badge combines the AEC triangle and Ferrari prancing horse – what does this say about its performance.   Grey Cars’ Ranger, AUO199, outside the entrance to Torwood Street Coach Station in Torquay.

Truronian - The First Great Western Railway Motor Bus Service is now operated by First - On Tuesday 8th April 2008, First Devon & Cornwall Limited, after clearance from the Office of Fair Trading completed the acquisition of Truronian Limited.

The Truronian name has a long pedigree; by 1923 William Ernest Richards and his son Austin were operating three motor charabancs known as the ‘Truronian Cars’. In the post war years Austin Richards ran the business which also included several Austin coaches. In August 1964 two local taxi operators Harold Brown and Godfrey Davies acquired the tours and bus services to Feock and Point and to St.Michael Penkevil. The new owners continued to use the ‘Truronian Tours’ fleet name, however the two bus services were discontinued in 1965. Harold Brown became the sole proprietor in 1982.

Truronian Ltd was formed in September 1987 by David Rabey, Ken Branchett and Geoff Rumbles who had previously been senior managers at Western National Ltd, and the newly formed company immediately acquired Truronian Tours. Further expansion followed in 1988 when Flora Motors of Helston was acquired. This was followed in 1993 with the acquisition of C.RWilliams (Coaches) Ltd. of St.Agnes.

At the time of acquisition by First, Truronian operated in the region of 70 vehicles, made up of around 50 buses and 20 coaches from the main depot and workshop in Truro and an operating base in Helston. A number of high profile services were operated including;

a)    The Eden Project Park and Ride, since June 2006 this has been operated by 3 Mercedes Citaro Bendibuses.

b)    The Eden Branchline linking St Austell Railway Station with the Eden Project.

c)    The Helston Branchline, a major project involving the Countryside Agency and Cornwall County Council to provide a bus service linking Redruth Station with Helston as a fully integrated 'virtual' Branchline service.

d)    The Trevithick Link group of services in the Camborne and Redruth area operated by a group of low floor vehicles in a dedicated livery.

The coach fleet operated UK and continental coaching holidays in addition to National Express operations and executive coach hire including the provision of team coaches for the Cornish Pirates Rugby Team and Truro City Football Club.

The Truronian fleet have now been numbered into the First corporate 5 digit numbering scheme and repaints into the First corporate livery are now underway.

N169KAF – operating on the T1 service at Poldhu Cove, this 1996 Dennis Dart with Plaxton Pointer bodywork made an appearance at the recent Plymouth rally repainted in First corporate colours. L726WCV – new in 1994, this Mercedes 811D with Plaxton Beaver bodywork is seen at St.Agnes, the northern end of the coast to coast T1 service from The Lizard. WK06AFV – The T7 service Truro – Redruth – Portreath – Camborne is one of the Trevithick Link group of services. Seen outside Redruth railway station in March earlier this year heading for Truro is WK06AFV a Dennis Dart SLF in the dedicated livery applied to a number of vehicles.

Bus Enthusiasm in 1949 - In 2008 it’s fair to say as transport enthusiasts we expect well illustrated quality publications such as WHOTT’s NEWS! However the story was very different in 1949 and Barry Povey (Friend 106) has kindly provided two copies, together with accompanying background notes, of ‘The North Western – The Official Journal of the Omnibus Interest Society’. This pioneering publication was ‘put together’ and printed on a gelatine tray by John Potter and Keith Phillipson during their school years at Altrincham Grammar School. It was illustrated with copies of photographs taken on a Coronet 12-20 box camera being glued into the space left.

The school had an annual camp, at the time it was probably considered adventurous to go as far as Ladram Bay, near Sidmouth. Some 80/100 boys, teachers and old boys set off annually in a fleet of coaches owned by Sykes Motor Tours of Sale, Cheshire. No doubt this annual camp provided the inspiration for several articles contained in Volume 1 No.6 – September/October 1949, of ‘The North Western’, which unfortunately was the last issue.

The brief articles reproduced below were the work of two enthusiastic 14 year old school boys, so we should allow for any historical and geographical inaccuracies. To reflect a moment on the changing times, it’s probably worth considering how many 14 year old school boys or girls are actually reading this issue of WHOTT’s News! ? If there are any perhaps they would consider preparing a small article for a future issue.   

During the year 100 BC (before cylinders), Hart's bus services were born. Every morning the pride of their fleet, the aeronautic juggernuts bustalot speeds up to Ladram Bay at 2 m.p.h.. Providing the driver clears Otterton Cross, one arrives in comparative safety. The notable, though friendly, driver "Perce" who takes one hand off the steering wheel, to get himself a jam sandwich whilst travelling at 30 m.p.h. down a typical Devonshire lane which goes anything but straight is a very familiar figure. Another notable character "Charlie" who goes with Perce always says "O.K. Perce" instead of using the bell (a contraption consisting of string running through curtain hooks to a bicycle bell). Charlie also knows every man, woman and child who is resident on the route and a long time is spent at stops chatting about various happenings which have been going on in the neighbourhood recently. But we must have a hart and not persicute them too much. In actual fact, Hart's do an excellent job of work carrying passengers between Exmouth and Ladram Bay at a very cheap rate. Their buses are excellent considering their age.


DTA499 Perce’s 1936 Albion PK115 service bus with Tiverton bodywork at Ladram Bay.  It passed to Devon General, along with 4 other vehicles and the Exmouth – Ladram Bay service in June 1952. However it wasn’t operated by the new owner.


WHOTT Events Past & Future - Royal Blue Run & Kingsbridge Running Day

Points of View - Yellow Peril & South West Bodybuilders

Archive Print Service

Just the Ticket - 13

Every Picture Tells A Story...and not least this one!

Future Activities



WHOTT's 500th Friend, Alan Neale, at BVBG's Brislington rally posing by Hants & Dorset No.779 (KLJ749), a Portsmouth Aviation bodied Bristol LL6G owned by BVBG members Paul Tovey & Chris Knight. Allan became a Friend of WHOTT at the time of a last minute drive from Bristol to Fifield for brake repairs to 1299 for an MOT before the Royal Blue Run in June. Many thanks to Alan and congratulations on being WHOTT Friend 500.

WHOTT's 500th Friend


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Web News 30

Web News Index

Web News 32


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