Home to the Claude Jessett Collection – Steam Traction Engines • Steam Rollers • Fair Organ Museum • The Great Bush Narrow Gauge Railway • Miniature Railway • Historic farming and construction equipment
Sunday April 22nd saw the annual East Grinstead bus running day taking place. This event, organised by ‘Country bus rallies.’is a very popular event as it gives members of the general public the opportunity of free bus rides from the East Grinstead town centre to nearby towns and villages.The Trust provided two buses from the collection, a 1950’s ex London Transport RT double decker (The classic London red bus) and a 1940’s open top bus from the fleet of Brighton Hove and District. This bus was supplied to Brighton at the start of WW2 in uncompleted form as the body buildershad already gone over to wartime production of military equipment. BH&D completed the work but the vehicle was unable to work on the seafront route, number 17, it was designed for as Brighton’s seafront was closed due to the invasion threat.
After the war the bus was fitted with a detachable roof, one of the first of its type ever to be built.With its new roof the bus could work over most routes, even in inclement winter weather.
The bus was donated to the Trust by an enthusiast who had started work on restoring it but was unable to continue and wanted it to go to a good home in its native home county.Trust volunteers have worked hard over the past 6 years to achieve a full restoration of the vehicle to its original appearance and work is still continuing.
The bus was very popular on the running day round-the-town service as it was a warm and sunny day. Many of the passengers had probably never travelled on an open top bus with an open platformbefore and so it was a novelty particularly enjoyed by the children. Many older folk also enjoyed a ride down memory lane.
As can be seen from the accompanying pictureslong queues formed to enjoy the novelty of riding “up on top”. The volunteer crews worked hard all day but were rewarded by grateful thanks and smiles form the passengers as they disembarked and over £75 was raised, by selling commemorative tea mugs,towards the restoration of the bus which still needs new upholstery on the lower deck. Much work also is needed to restore the old roof which, hopefully, will be in place next year enabling us to operate in all weathers without upstairs passengers getting rain soaked or blown away by the wind!
The Tinker’s Park Open day is an absolutely delightful event – I went along this year (2017) for the first time and can highly recommend it. The range of old steam-engines on display, all of them in working order and in fantastic condition, was most impressive. There were also vintage buses, cars – not to mention a small steam-train which will take you round the perimeter of the park! There are other rides to go on and there’s also the chance to sample the excellent beer on tap at the refreshment stall.
As a musician I was particularly interested by the magnificent display of fair organs, the sort that would have been used at fairground carousels or roundabouts. The proud owners were only too happy to demonstrate these and they really are a joy to experience. All in all, a great day out and I shall certainly return.
Paul Guinery is a London based concert pianist who studied at the Royal College of Music. He has worked for many years at the BBC, including writing and presenting music programmes for Radio 3.
Paul is pictured standing in front of the Brighton & Hove Bus CAP229. Keith, is pictured in front of the blue Ford tractor, photographed Paul and Paul kindly took the rest of the images. Thank you Paul.
The ex Brighton Hove and District open top bus owned by the Trust took part in the East Grinstead bus running day on April 30th. The bus is a Bristol K5G and was delivered to BH&D for use on the seafront service as an open topper in 1939 in an unfinished state, owing to the outbreak of war. It entered service in 1940 having been fitted out in the Holland Road works of the company. In the early 1950’s it was rebuilt as a convertible open top bus, with a removable roof, to enable it to be used on town services in the winter.
CAP 229, RF & RTSince the Claude Jessett trust was formed in 2003 several important new items have been added to the collection based at Tinkers Park these include two double deck buses which, like other vehicles in the collection, are often shown off to the public as working examples of our transport heritage. The buses are an ex London Transport RT double decker ( The original big red bus as seen in the film Summer Holiday starring Cliffe Richard) and an ex Brighton Hove and District Bristol K type convertible open topper dating from 1940. This was the archetypal seaside bus and used to run a regular Service along the seafront from Rottingdean, through Brighton and on to Hove. Both vehicles were donated to the trust by their previous owners who wanted to see them go to a good home where they would be enjoyed by enthusiasts and the general public.