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Monday, 20 December 2010

This weather reminds me of a trip over 30 years ago

Looking back exactly a year I see there was a snow story then as well so no surprise that we are back into the bad weather. Once again well done to all the staff who have braved the elements to keep services going. As it happens the media has been very focussed on the effect on air travellers especially with the Christmas getaway being so badly affected. There are, however, lots of good local stories which in many cases demonstrate just how hard people have been working to keep bus services going.

Saturday should have been and end-of-season excursion with at least one Routemaster bus to the village of Imber. (For when we were last there see the blog on 18th September). Imber, you will recall is one of those villages requisitioned by the MoD during World War II and never given back. A carol concert in the still-standing church was planned for Saturday afternoon but when the roads became impassable it was cancelled, and so with it the bus service.

It has been customary to have a few tales from the olden days in these Christmas blogs so this one relates to a day in about 1978 when Bruce Swain (of RTL453), Terry Stubbington (RT190), the late Alan Allmey and I went to Wombwell Diesels to collect RF362 and a collection of parts. We drove RF332, the Cobham towbus, to up South Yorkshire through the night.

In those days the interior of the Cobham towbus was very spartan and we slept on the floor in sleeping bags in and around various 6V batteries which were aboard. Alan had a free-standing paraffin heater on the go as well. Alan drove the interesting bit from Cobham to the M1; after that we all took it in turns to sit in the slow lane of the M1 in the blizzard for a couple of hours at a time.

Arriving in the Barnsley scrapyard area in the early hours we tried to get some sleep - Alan pointed out that if the zip of my sleeping bag made all the right connections with the terminals of the batteries and the paraffin heater I would briefly be very hot and then very cold in perpetuity.

The following day we worked in thick snow removing components from RTs and RFs, loading them onto RF332 before setting off with RF362 in convoy.

An expedition (of which there were many) in the heyday of volunteer preservation efforts and in very similar weather conditions to today.

Luckily Bruce Swain has kept the photographic record of those trips and that means our seasonal photographs are indeed of RF332 and RF362 on this very mission and demonstrating the weather!

This story was also related by me in the programme which accompanied the events on the last public day of the old Cobham Bus Museum at Redhill Road in October.


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