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 builders had 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 platform before 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 pictures long 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!
Report and pictures by David Vaughan