Monday, 20 September 2010


270 KTA may not have been able to go to the ball, but her Fairy Godfather did bring her a coach.*

Here they are, the Sheppard SUs, together for the first time in almost 15 years. Following this weekend's brilliant Kingsbridge Running Day (more about which in a moment), an overnight stop for 275 KTA allowed for a reunion in the sunshine at 270 KTA's Devon home.

It's likely they are friends of old. They would certainly have worked together during the Christmas of 1965, when 270 KTA moved (briefly) from her Kingsbridge base to 275 KTA's native Plymouth depot.

Last time they met, at the Plymouth rally in Newnham Park in 1996, both were in the early stages of preservation. 275 KTA had made the the long journey from Berkshire, having only recently returned to the road after a decade in bits; 270 KTA arrived from Laira behind a Western National tow truck, having been donated to them for preservation.

This weekend, 275 KTA was very much a star performer at the Kingsbridge Running Day, where we were celebrating 50 years since the first Bristol SU took to the road. Among the highlights of a truly magical day, a journey on Service 110 saw us heading along the narrow lanes through Beeson and Beesands to beautiful East Portlemouth, with a full compliment of 33 passengers - who loved every minute!

As my Dad will attest (he negotiated the double hairpin bends on hills with customary skill, often to well-deserved applause from the passengers), the SUs come into their own on terrain like this.

When they're running, that is! The past few weeks show that 270 KTA has, realistically, a good few months of work in store before I can think of subjecting her to passengers with any great confidence. A check-over by my Dad (and Chief Engineer) this weekend has cemented that fact, and I'm now working on prioritising a list of 'little jobs' for me to tackle over the Winter months.

The weekend has spurred me on enormously, and reminded me that the occasional perils of owning a Bristol SU are worthwhile. 275 KTA travelled 470 miles in three days without a problem - a timely reminder that with excellent maintenance, they're excellent little vehicles.

So - 270 KTA will go to the ball one day. But not until I've stripped-down the glass slipper, cleaned it from top to toe and reassembled it with copper-slip. It should be easier to fit then, too...

*Comments from SU detractors about "ugly sisters" will be ignored.

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