Vintage vehicles from Bristol’s transport heritage will be the focus of a day-long celebration where visitors will be invited to travel back in time by both road and rail.
Avon Valley Railway and the Bristol Vintage Bus Group have teamed up once again to organise the popular Vintage Bus Rally, which returns on Sunday, 31 July, for the 13th year running.
Visitors will be able to admire more than 50 vintage buses on show at the Brislington Park and Ride site on the A4, where admission is free and there will also be bus crews in vintage uniforms, stalls, a barbecue and refreshments.
Among the vehicles on display will be the only Bristol J type bus operated by the Bristol Tramways and Carriage Company that has been preserved. It ran throughout the Second World War before becoming a mobile home for members of Nailsworth Boys’ Club complete with bunk beds, kitchen and boat rack for their expeditions, until it arrived in restorers’ hands at Bristol Vintage Bus Group.
Rides on board some of the vehicles will also be running throughout the day including taking passengers to Avon Valley Railway at Bitton, where both steam and diesel services will be taking visitors along the restored line with an intensive timetable.
Dayley Lawrence, a trustee of the Bristol Vintage Bus Group said: “We’ve come a long way from our first rally back in 2004. Avon Valley Railway and the Bristol Vintage Bus Group first had the idea of a joint event to show off part of Bristol’s transport heritage and make it available for public benefit.
“Twelve years on we really have a first-class show for you today, with vehicles entered ranging from the 1930s to the present day. This year also marks the 30th anniversary of Badgerline. As you will see, we have some lovely examples of the Badgerline days along with a special treat from First Bristol.”
A CityLine Dennis Step Dart bus has been donated to the group by bus company First and, while at just 21 years old this year it is the youngest vehicle preserved by the charity, it is of historic significance as the last bus of its kind to come out of service with First’s fleet. The vehicle has been repainted in CityLine livery and the charity will be fundraising towards retrimming the interior.
Also marking a special anniversary is the FTT704 (353) which was delivered in 1945 after being manufactured by Bristol Tramways & Carriage Co. It was used by Western National at its Totnes Depot for most of its life with that company. It has been with the BVBG since 1973.
Enthusiasts from the charity and railway will be sharing their passion for preserving these pieces of local transport heritage offering visitors plenty of chance to find out more about their current projects and how they can support them.
Avon Valley Railway volunteers are currently hard at work fundraising and restoring steam engine Avonside 0-6-0ST 1798 Edwin Hulse to return it to full working order in time for its 100th birthday in 2018.
Mark Simmons, Avon Valley Railway commercial manager, said: “There are many members of the public who share our enthusiasm for our transport heritage and we are delighted to give them the opportunity to see so many fine examples at close hand and even ride on them throughout the day.
“The preservation work undertaken by the volunteers from both Avon Valley Railway and the Bristol Vintage Bus Group is vital as many of these vehicles would have been consigned to the scrapyard and lost forever without their efforts.
“We look forward to welcoming the many people who support this work as well as the many visitors who will enjoy finding out about it on the day and to seeing these vehicles on show and filled with passengers once again.”
The Vintage Bus Rally will run from 10am to 5pm at Brislington Park and Ride, where admission is free and there is free parking. Avon Valley Railway’s Bitton Station is open from 9am, where steam and diesel services will be running from 11am until 4.30pm and the station buffet will be serving refreshments. Admission to the station site is free, fares apply for train rides.