Previously at this fun-filled Isle of Wight event, there were 19 routes around the island with 98 licensed premises to be visited, including pubs, clubs, hotels and restaurants, with a huge range of beers and often 50p off your first pint.
All the buses are free of charge, but you are asked to buy a £7 programme from any CAMRA pub or the Isle of Wight Bus & Coach Museum and these are your bus tickets – show the programme and you travel for free. You need it for the 50p off your pint as well!
Not only do these programmes include details of the pubs, town maps, the routes and timetables, they also have a selection of special offers at the participating pubs, plus details of special events over the weekend, including live music and Morris dancing.
The Isle of Wight Class Beer & Buses Weekend is a wonderful opportunity to travel on buses that haven’t been seen on the road for quite a few years. The oldest are 80 years old, with one dating as far back as 1939, and the most recent are from the late 1990s. You can see photographs of all the buses on the Beer & Buses’ event website.
Of the 19 routes that go all around the island, the circular stretches are probably the most popular. Of those that begin at Newport, routes B and C navigate the West Wight, taking in pubs such as the Crown Inn in Shorwell, the Sun Inn in Hulverstone. Route T travels through Yarmouth, stopping off for three pubs in the town, then heading onto Alum Bay, taking in the Highdown Inn and Totland and the Horse and Groom in Ningwood and the New Inn at Shalfleet.
Go direct to Cowes via route A and you can sample the ten pubs that follow the High Street from one end to the other, not forgetting the Sugar Store on Shepherd’s Wharf. Alternatively, you can meander through Porchfield, Northwood and Gurnard to Cowes on routes N and P.
Routes H, J and K from Newport makes tours around the south Wight, via either Chillerton, Rookley or direct to Whitwell. Route K then detours to the Buddle on Niton Undercliff, and H and J go on to Ventnor Seafront for the famous Spyglass Inn.
In the East Wight you have a selection of options, with route F taking you from Ryde to the Culver Haven Inn on top of Culver Down, or Route G that travels from Ryde, through Brading to Sandown and Shanklin. Or you can take R and S that take a circular route through Bembridge and St Helen’s, through Nettlestone and Seaview to Ryde. The real beauty of all these routes is that you can jump from one to another - just get on the next bus.
The buses range from Southern Vectis’ open top bus ‘The Old Girl’, in green and cream livery (often hired for weddings on the island), built in 1939 in Bristol, to the most modern buses for the weekend that date from 1998. Some have been loaned from London Bus Museum, such as traditional Routemaster buses, many are from the Isle of Wight Bus Museum and others are from around the country, both from museums and private collections and some are owned by local enthusiasts.
If you prefer to walk your beers off between pubs you can take one of the weekend’s pub walks that have been specially devised by the Rambler’s Association for the event. These either begin at one of the featured pubs or finish at one – or both – and most of the pubs on the tour are included in the walks. See the website for details.
Profits are shared between the upkeep of The Bus Museum and the Bus drivers who have very kindly donated their vehicles, their time and their diesel to make this event the best of its kind. An incredible amount was raised from the 2019 event and the complete restoration of Leyland Olympian A700DDL is well underway with the proceeds, plus a Bristol RELL TDL563K was repainted, the wheels for ‘Civility’ their 1880 horse drawn coach were sent for a professional rebuild and they bought a new extractor fan for the Isle of Wight Bus & Coach Museum’s workshop.