Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Autumn Fall

They say that pride cometh before a fall.

A proverb with its roots in biblical times, essentially it means that if you allow yourself to become too proud of your SU, you're certain to end up with a head-gasket failure...

... and look how proud I am here.


270 KTA's appearance at the South Devon Railway's superb Diesel Gala received a characteristic warm welcome from all, and afforded much cause for pride.

Whilst a fairly intensive free bus service was operated alongside the railway, Pearce & Crump-style, there were numerous opportunities to exploit the driver's vanity for photographs such as these.

As well as 'rail replacement' trips to Ashburton, we operated a few photographers' specials to Staverton - a quintessential, rural GWR branch line station, with level crossing, station yard (and "To the National Buses" sign) - which made for some really excellent poses...

... and, of course, our friend looks very at home outside the station at Buckfastleigh. 

No wonder, then - with all this pride about - that we seemed to get through an awful lot of coolant on the final day. A quick check tonight reveals levels on the dipstick have risen dramatically, and the lovely fresh oil I changed only a month ago is now looking like full cream...
I've yet to confirm it properly, but I suspect the ancient proverb has come true. This will be the Winter when I remind myself how to change a head-gasket.
Deep joy, and deep breaths.
For now I'll just console myself with railway trifle...

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Dear David II...

If you didn't deserve so much better, I'd be tempted to make a joke about waiting years for an extraordinary photo, and several turning up at once...

You must excuse me - I'm a little overcome.

Following yesterday's incredible find, these two gems were presented to me today amongst a bundle of old photographs which the donor thought "might be of interest". They were apparently taken by his son - yet again, a little boy with a magic camera that yields its happy coincidences decades later.

The photos show how 270 KTA looked in 1996, shortly after the late Derek Willis (of Bodmin) had donated it to Western National's preservation group. It was towed to the Plymouth bus rally at Newnham Park in this year, and as you'll see, it was quite a spectacle against other more complete exhibits - including our very own newly restored 275 KTA.

Of particular interest is the rear view, showing traces of poppy red still on the bootlid and corner panel, as well as damage to the rear dome (rectified only this year!).

I suspect the donor knew this prize pair of photos was buried in his bundle, and is now awaiting a call to let him know I've found them.

My Dad was the donor, by the way... and the boy photographer was me.

Monday, 3 November 2014

Dear David...

A hitherto stranger writes...
"I went to the Warminster running day yesterday, not far from my home. Your bus rang a faint bell. As a child I was fanatically interested in buses and was sure I had seen this one before.

Attached is a photograph of it (Box Brownie, I am afraid) outside Western National's Salcombe shed in August 1963. It was a shed too: a wooden lock-up that accommodated one single decker.

I hated going on the annual family holiday to that ghastly seaside resort and looking at buses was one of the few distractions that made it bearable.

Peter Brown"

And so arrived this extraordinary photograph, reunited with its subject by the same kind of chance encounter that led to its creation 51 years ago.

Young Peter couldn't have realised the significance his photograph would one day hold. It's among the earliest known photos of 270 KTA, the coach being just over a year old when Peter discovered it, ready for a trip back to its home depot from Shadycombe Road shed in Salcombe. Photos of the Kingsbridge fleet are comparatively rare, and Salcombe is especially seldom seen. This photo is therefore very special.

Add to that the charm of the Box Brownie (which has actually captured the scene with remarkable clarity), and the low-angle achieved by a presumably very little Peter, and it's hard to imagine a better find.

Thank heaven for little boys...

Our friend will next be appearing this weekend at the South Devon Railway's Diesel Gala, where its photogenic qualities will be very much part of the requirement.

Bring along your Box Brownie...