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Sunday, 4 September 2011

Return to Imber

Heeding the severe warning of the sign on the left, the first wave of
Routemasters venture onto the military road

The third annual pilgrimage to liberate the abandoned village of Imber, on Salisbury Plain, evacuated in 1943 and never returned, took place yesterday.

This village, like several others, was commandeered during the war. In this case it provided a training facility for US troops ahead of D-Day. Only a very few or the original inhabitants remain alive. But once a year thanks to the efforts of local people and with the co-operation of the Ministry of Defence, the military road across Salisbury Plain is opened. A service takes place at St Giles' church, and relatives can visit their ancestors buried in the churchyard.

An ever-developing bus network allows people to visit the village and also see the views of abandoned tanks, firing ranges and of course the specially-built target buildings installed for military training. In more recent times the persona of the village has been more like urban Northern Ireland. This year the network ventured even further to outlying villages and with the arrangements more widely publicised, an increasing number of people visited.

As already described across on The Omnibuses Blog a fleet of Routemasters delivered the service - thanks to the combined efforts of Bath Bus Company, Stagecoach, First and led by Peter Hendy. The service is properly registered for the day and the Traffic Commissioner for the South West, Sarah Bell, inspected the operation personally. This year Routemasters 1005, 1510, 2344, 2657 and 2735 were involved.

The opportunity to visit this site attracts a good many local people, many of whom have their own stories of the village and its occupants. Real-time aural history abounds on the buses, in the village and at the church.
Once more it was blessed with good weather and enjoyed by all.