On the buses in Clacton

PUBLISHED: 11:08 26 May 2011 | UPDATED: 19:27 20 February 2013

On the buses in Clacton

On the buses in Clacton

Hold on tight please! Vintage buses return to the streets of one of the county's best-loved seaside towns as the third Clacton Bus Rally arrives<br/><br/>By Nicky Adams

Clactons Steven Hughes first caught the bus bug in Blackpool, but 20 years on a passing interest has become a passion.
As a child, I used to holiday in Blackpool once or twice a year with my parents, explains Steven. 15 to 20 years ago, many shops were inaccessible to someone in a wheelchair so I used to be left outside to watch the trams pass and, of course, I started to notice the buses too. This happened in other towns too and so my fascination with big, noisy buses began.

When a friend and local bus driver purchased the bus Steven used to ride to school in as a child, his fascination continued. Steven started helping him with cleaning parts of the bus and some interior restoration work, and before long Steven had made the decision to purchase his own bus and join the Colne Estuary Preserved Buses organisation and other museum societies in East Anglia.

It was as a fellow bus enthusiast and I were chatting about the disorganised manner of the bus event we were attending that I was challenged to do better, explains Steven, and thats how Clacton Bus Rally came about.

Doing things better Steven undoubtedly has, and the Clacton Rally is now in its third year thanks to him and his fellow members of Colne Estuary Preserved Buses. As many as 50 buses from all over the country are expected to converge on Clacton Factory Outlet Village on Sunday, June 5, 2011, ranging from vintage to modern models. Many will be offering journeys around the town, giving a whole new perspective to the familiar sights of one of the countys favourite seaside resorts as people take advantage of what was once the most popular mode of transport on Britains streets.

Boarding a bus at the back to see the driver in his cab at the front is something which very few younger
people have ever experienced

In fact, if the past two years events are anything to go by, up to 3,000 local people and visitors will turn out on the day to appreciate a bygone era in public transport and to enjoy free rides along routes to Clactons station and town centre, and along the seafront to neighbouring villages.
Older people love riding vintage buses because it reminds them of their youth, says Steven, and the younger generations enjoy riding older buses because they offer a completely different experience to riding on modern vehicles. Boarding a bus at the back and seeing the driver in his cab at the front is something that very few younger people have ever experienced.

This experience is made possible by the ten members of Colne Estuary Preserved Buses, a group of bus owners and enthusiasts who own and restore a fleet of heritage buses and coaches and who mastermind the Clacton Bus Rally, which draws vehicles and their owners from far and wide.

The vehicles in our own collection are owned individually by the members and the group is simply a collective name, explains Steven. Between us we currently have around 20 vehicles and they come from all around the UK. We help each other with bus knowledge as well as physical tasks, from changing parts to restoration.

Although not all of the buses in the Colne Estuary Preserved Buses collection are restored or even roadworthy, work is ongoing and there is plenty to do. The buses that are ready for the road are polished and shown at bus events and rallies across the country. Perhaps the most notable and popular examples are the last remaining ex-Eastern National Bristol LH (UVX7S), the last remaining Flat Fronted Bristol RE from Eastern National (FWC439H) and two open-top buses, which are perennial favourites.

Steven and his colleagues believe that the time they spend bringing engines back to life and perfecting the original paintwork and interiors on these vintage examples of Britains public transport past is a real investment.

From transporting troops to the frontline throughout the two world wars to taking millions of people to work, school and on outings over the decades, buses were, and still are, an important ingredient of daily life, says Steven. Preserving the older models just shows us how far methods of automotive manufacture and engineering have progressed. Buses
are an integral part of our history.

Find out more
Clacton Bus Rally takes place on Sunday, June 5, 2011 at Clacton Factory Outlet Village, 24 Russell Court, Churchill Way, Colchester CO2 8SR. Parking is free, as is entry to the rally, and there are free bus rides around the local area and to Clacton town centre via Burrs Road/Oxford Road, although buses will only pick up at the Rail Station and Pier Avenue Stops. For more information,
go to www.clactonbusrally.com

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