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Sunday, 14 June 2015

Donald Allmey

Former London coach operator Don Allmey, who founded and ran Allmey Coaches of Eastcote, died on 6th June aged 78.

Don was more than just a family coach operator which were typical in London and elsewhere in the post-war years. Both Don and his wife Jean were well-known to their loyal customers for very many years and their fleet a familiar sight.

Don and his late brother Allan, had a special interest in old London buses. In the 1960s, they formed together with Prince Marshall of Old Motor Magazine, the London Bus Preservation Group. In the early 1970s they broke new ground by securing a former Vickers building in Weybridge and created the first undercover private museum for London buses. The collections of vibrant and working London buses through the years owned by private individuals, owes a tremendous amount to their foresight and courage often at huge personal risk given the guarantees and commitments required.

That museum now lives on in a different location, inside Brooklands Museum. It is open to the public daily - an extraordinary achievement inconceivable in those early days.

Allan and his wife Lyn were tragically killed in a car accident in 1978. Don and Jean brought up their young nephew William, together with their own children: Victoria is married to Des Maybury, Director of the Big Bus Tours empire, whilst in another twist of genealogy, son Martin works in vintage vehicle restoration with Prince's son Sebastian.

An old fashioned entrepreneur (although he would have considered that a posh word for 'wheeler dealer'), Don ran a successful business selling spares, parts and vehicles. His encyclopaedic knowledge of AEC products and their workings made him always in demand.

Don belonged to a special era when deals were done on personal knowledge and trust, and his eye for business was as acute as his kindness and genuine desire to help others.

He and Jean retired to Cyprus. However, after his onset of dementia, they returned to England. For some years now Don had been in full-time care. As is often the case, recollections of some wonderful days in the past would reawaken his otherwise declining awareness, always bringing a smile to his face.

The funeral is on 22nd June.