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Sunday, 11 April 2010

Where were all the best dressed people today?

Probably at the last Cobham Open Day in its current format which started 37 years ago.

I remember the first ones, informal affairs at the Museum where people and buses were plucked out of nowhere to run to and from Weybridge Station. Over the years the event has grown to several thousand people and is now occupying nearby Wisley Airfield as well as the Museum site itself.

It's a big friendly event where people from the industry in its widest sense come together for, probably, the first opportunity of the year. It is easy not to see everything as the chance to catch up with old friends and browse at the sales stands can soon mean it is already time to head home.

As for the Museum itself there was a time when, perhaps, the Open Day was tolerated by the regulars, rather than welcomed. Then it gained in popularity and became an annual good reason to tidy up, paint the fence, and get organised. I was close to the event for a few years in the late 1970s, working through Saturday and overnight. One year it rained to hard we were still bailing out in the early hours of Sunday. Nevertheless most years it earned a reasonable amount of money and somehow each year the free bus service gained in popularity until the offer of vehicles and crews from third parties was critical.

Since then there have become the need to observe more stringent regulations, licence the bus services to full PSV standards, and provide attractions and facilities for the wider audience.

This year a great event with good weather and many interesting vehicles. It is slightly tinged with sadness as it probably marks the last ever using the old Museum building and site at Redhill Road which was bought, freehold, thanks to the generosity of the Allmey family and others who were founders of the London bus preservation movenent. The building is, it is understood, time expired. And of course, after nearly 40 years, there are many more exhibits needing space. So the current management team has put in place a deal which sells the site and creates enough cash to invest in a new purpose-built facility at the nearby Brooklands site already the home to interesting motor vehicles and aircraft.

A far cry from the primitive conditions at the Redhill Road site, which itself has historic connections from the Barnes Wallis research of World War II. Moving from there was probably the last thing in the minds of the first generation preservationists. But then again many of the vehicles now preserved have been there very many more years than they were ever in service. Their designers didn't envisage such longevity either!

Amongst the best dressed people - Peter Hendy, Ray Stenning, Noel Millier, Alan Millar, Mike Dryhurst all celebrating being another year older!

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1 comment:

  1. I'm so glad there's room for a "tongue in cheek" headline to compliment that picture. Ray - I’ve never quite understood how, and I mean this in a nice way, a man responsible for putting so much style into the bus world, can look like….....well, I’ll leave that to others perhaps! :-)

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