Well I might be the first person to get their Imber story on the internet but given the familiar faces in Wiltshire today there will be plenty more very soon.
Imber is a Wiltshire village with a difference: at its height no more than 500 people worked the land and look their goods to the local market town. By 1931 only 152 people were resident in the village.
However in 1943 it was evacuated and commandeered by the Ministry of Defence. As with a number of sites on Salisbury Plain vast swathes of countryside were used for training, target practice etc.
Imber was never given back and remains closed – except for the occasional day when access to the metalled roads and village is allowed. On this day the church is open, people can visit the graves of relatives buried there, and when possible a church service is held.
Today is the only day this year when Imber was opened, so following a precedent sent in 2009, a one day bus service comprising red Routemaster buses was provided. It is only the second time since 1943 that Imber has had a bus service.
The service, pioneered by London's Transport Commissioner Peter Hendy and registered by Martin Curtis at Bath Bus Company, ran from Warminster Station, across the wilderness to Imber, then on to Tilshead. For the first time the service was further extended to the Bustard Inn – a pub and a few mobile homes near Shrewton and accessed across the plains rather than the conventional way from the A360.
Several senior transport figures again joined in the day – driving, conducting and supervising – and everyone had an exceptionally good time.
I had the great fortune to drive the first journey beyond Tilshead to the Bustard Inn with RM613 and so popular was it as a destination that additional capacity was needed during the day.
We seem to miss the tanks and unexploded shells so I hope that means we might repeat the whole exercise again next year. Watch for dates as the opening of Imber is determined by the MoD and not always with much notice!
TOP The absence of traffic allowed to us have an impromptu line-up across the road. A high-powered delegation including Peter Hendy attend to a small coolant problem on his RM1005.
BOTTOM Quite a lot of buses for a village that has no population!