David Cole Off the trains and on the buses
Even when I'm on a day off from the Avon and Somerset Railway I can often find myself having a busman's holiday – literally!
I've always been interested in transport and back in the early 1990s when the railway was using vintage buses to transport Day Out With Thomas visitors from the off-site car park to the station I mentioned to one of the owners that I would be prepared to help him look after his bus, if he needed some help with it.
A few months later he called me to say that he had something to show me. Upon asking if he wanted me to clean it he said, "No, I want you to buy it!"
Curiosity took the better of me and in a moment of madness I took the bait and subsequently became the proud owner of a Bristol MW bus – a vehicle which I can drive after having passed my PCV test on the second go.
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And we use it for various railway events when high numbers are expected and we bus people in, so the vintage theme starts from even before they get to the train station.
We also work closely with Bristol Vintage Bus Group, which is what I was doing the other weekend as August 11 saw the annual Bristol bus rally.
Dozens of us showed off a whole range of vehicles dating back over the decades; it's a huge nostalgia trip for many and it's wonderful seeing the faces of young children who can't remember the different styles of buses which used to be on the streets. Bus rides were free as by law those of us who are owners of preserved vehicles can't charge fares but we do ask for donations to help with the restoration.
The event shows how Bristol's heritage has changed over the years and it fits in with the day job of working with a heritage railway.
And in fact as we held the event at the Brislington park and ride site, visitors could take a ride to the railway as well as Bath and Bristol city centres.
There were clippies on some buses – remember those days? Quite often we get people telling us stories about what life on the buses really was like. And hearing those tales is all part of the fun of bringing history to life.
So ten years after taking the bait I still have a true love for old things, but please don't mention that to the other half!