Ding ding: make sure you make a stop at the Bustival at the Isle of Wight Steam Railway next weekend, where there will be more than a few vintage omnibuses to see along with the more modern ones.
Organised in conjunction with Southern Vectis and the Island’s Bus Museum, the field beside the IW Steam Railway station will be full of buses of all shapes, sizes and colours on Sunday April 15th with at least 12 coming over especially for the day. A red Routemaster, a bendy bus from London and a Scania double decker from the current fleet will be amongst those appearing.
But it is the older ladies who steal the show at this event and two of the best are the Old Girl and her sister. Southern Vectis’s Old Girl is the oldest working bus in the country and this lovely old lady is the perfect mode of transport for any vintage lovers.
The Old Girl was purchased new in 1939 and has remained with Southern Vectis ever since. Her working life began on the Ryde to Cowes route, taking workers to and from the shipyards during the Second World War. Since then, the bus has seen a number of modifications, including having her roof removed in 1959.
For many years, she worked on the steep Needles Tour, and she clocked up nearly 800,000 miles during her working life. She is reputed to be the longest serving bus in the UK still in operation with her original owner.
The Old Girl is usually only available for private hire these days, although she is still occasionally used today on the Downs and Sandown Bay tours and is in particular demand during the summer months because she has an open top deck. Her sister is privately owned and just as resplendent as her sibling in their green and cream liveries.
Another great favourite is a French single decker pre-war Renault bus, known as the ‘Paris’ bus that will transport you back to the streets of Paris in the 1930s. Owner Robert E Jowitt is a well-known transport author and you’ll find him on his accordion, accompanied by a lady on violin, giving a definite French flavour to this corner of the field.
Vintage lorries will also be in attendance, courtesy of Hucknalls, and to top it all there will be a meeting of the Jaguar enthusiasts so there will be at least 37 different vintage Jags to see.
At noon there will be a battle staged by one of the Island’s very proficient re-enactment groups. Then at 1pm the Wight Diamond’s Marching Band will up the tempo with a rousing set and at 2pm the Five O Clock Shadows will be taking to the stage to transport you back to the 50s/60s.
There will be a bouncy castle, face painting and the beautiful Haven Falconry birds of prey to keep little ones entertained along with a beer tent for mums and dads. And don’t forget that you can take a ride on the vintage trains at IW Steam Railway too. A free Southern Vectis open top shuttle bus will run between Newport Bus station and Havenstreet Station from 10am to 4pm.