Steve Newman keeps you up-to-date on Ensignbus' Vintage Fleet
Monday 14 December 2015
So our record of always getting at least one new restoration out for running day was continued, with the completion of the 1944 rebodied Daimler. New to London Transport in 1944 as D27 it was rebodied in the early 1950s by Massey for Southend Transport. Having served with them until 1962 it joined Essex Police and served with them as a training and support vehicle before finding its way into preservation. It had however fallen on hard times and required a fair bit of work when we acquired her in late 2011, but was duly started in 2013 and finished in the week before running day. Seen here in a shot taken by Nick Agnew on its very first run from Upminster, its first full passenger carrying duty for some 53 years. I am pleased to be able to report she performed really well and only suffered a couple of minor issues that have been quickly resolved on her return.
After running day we fix all the minor issues that may have shown as well as then starting to pull the front line private hire buses over to be 'prettied up' for the next season. All that starts now.The East Kent tiger went out on running day but didn't enter service as a gear select issue needed rectifying, so she is in for that now and followed RT3232 having a minor fuel issue sorted. Once we are on top of defects all the window winders, blind mechanisms, varnished floors etc will get attention to make sure the buses start the season as smart as ever.
However, to keep our annual debuts going you have to plan a long way in advance to have any chance of pulling it off, so already the next major project is in the main restoration bay. This time its ex Jersey Motor Transport Leyland TD2 J6332. New in June 1932, she survived World War 2 on the island under occupation and soldiered on in service until 1961 when it was purchased for preservation by the late Michael Banfield. It remained in his ownership until he passed away and his fabulous collection was sold in June 2014 from where we acquired it. Whilst structurally the vehicle is sound the nearly 50 years since its restoration is now taking its toll and it looks tired. We have started by stripping out the seats, trims and window mechanisms allowing us to free them up and get things working again. More of course on this as we progress into 2016.
Now for some of my favourite images from recently all with festive links. First up is this fine shot from Billy Birkett of our Leyland RM 1843 under the lights at Gravesend. A great atmospheric shot well done on capturing it so well.
Next up is the star of the show, also taken under the lights at Gravesend this time by Tom Drake, another terrific shot.
Wednesday December 9 saw the 10th anniversary of the last day that Routemasters ran in normal every day service (Heritage routes aside) and was commemorated by our friends at the London Bus Museum organising the return of some RTs and RMs to the final route the 159s.We had our RT4421 and the very last RM in service that day 10 years ago RM54 out and about. In this image taken by John Lidstone, RT4421 comes out of Regent St and into Piccadilly Circus, in what could be a timeless image save for the fact that ones of London newest class of LT buses can be seen in the background. A few people have asked about the adverts being worn by 4421 (and indeed 1431) both of which have recently starred in various TV and film work and are still wearing their 'makeup' before concluding their film obligations.
So that's almost it for another year. To those who supported running day, left comments and messages or indeed written in with facts and photos, many thanks. Indeed thanks for popping by and just reading and all I am left to do is wish everyone a Happy Christmas and a healthy and prosperous 2016.