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P.C.T.P.G FROM MILEHOUSE TO BURRINGTON WAY

PART 1: THE PLYMOUTH BUS CLUB 1967 - 1978

We take a look back at how Plymouth City Transport Preservation Group has grown through the years, from starting out in the tramshed of Milehouse, plymouth citybus depot in July 2006, to Colebrook, Central Park, and now at our current base in Burrington way.

 But first a look back at how Plymouth's bus enthusiasts have enjoyed their passion through the decades.

It all started with a Plymouth Railway Circle bus tour "Ghost Tram" in July 1967 organised by Roy Sambourne

From this Eric Honey who worked for the Co-operative put together a couple of trips with Tony Masters, who was a traffic inspector with Plymouth corporation under the name of "The cooperative society".

 The Plymouth Bus Club officially began from these outings. Eric Honey, Terry Whittard and Mervin Kendall established the group in 1969. A group meeting room was shared with the Plymouth model railway club in the attic of the co-operative society building in North rd east.

 Plymouth's first preservation project started with the acquisition of ex Plymouth 1946 PD1 CJY 299 "89" (this amazing survivor will appear more than once in this historical piece. now owned by mike Bojanitz and restored for a 3rd time.) Found in London being used as workers transport for Clarnico, a sweet manufacturer. It was brought back to Winkleigh to be restored. Seen below at an open day being used as catering point. 

 With restoration complete its home was at the co op depot in Recreation rd, Beacon park. Seen here with new coat of corporation red and cream. 89 saw regular outings for club trips like a bus rally in Home park car park and a city tour, parked at the Mayflower steps. Several steam traction engine rallies were attended. Weymouth bus rally was also attended one year, with members sleeping on the bus due to the distance and speed of 89.

 

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The bus club existed in an interesting time for Plymouth transport, with the half cab era coming to an end. They were being replaced by Leyland Atlanteans and Leyland Nationals. There were many opportunities for farewell tours like the highbridge,JJY 516 fleet number 16 on 24th May 1970 seen below at Compton tram sheds, still intact.  Then the last PD2 tour 17th feb 1974 with OCO 521 number 120 and OCO 511 number 111, seen here in Bretonside station

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Unfortunately in 1973 89 had a major engine failure on the way to a bus rally in Exeter. it was returned to Winkleigh for repairs, that ended up with a replacement engine and which would see it stay there until 1979.

In the meantime the club continued with hiring buses of interest. One such outing was a preview of P.C.T newly converted open toppers tour of south east Cornwall ending at Looe with WJY 758 (which we own and will restored to this era)

 3 PDR1s 158 159 160 had been converted and painted in bright yellow & white for a new summer route to Bovisand 

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DARTMOOR RIVERS TOUR SUNDAY 16TH MAY 1976

The objective of this tour was to circumnavigate the edge of Plymouth, crossing as many river as possible.

 358 MCO 658 pct's then 20year old open top pd2/12 titan was hired by the Plymouth Bus Club.

 Departing Bretonside bus station 358 headed out along Exeter st and over the river Plym at Laira , passing the now long gone Western National depot.

 On reaching the Elburton Hotel our route took us left along Sherford Rd (now the expanding Sherford community) but then narrow country lanes over to Plympton via Voss farm and over the By-pass at what is now Language industrial park and power station. Making our way towards Hemerdon over the main railway line. At the time the last western Diesel hydraulics were being taken over by Class 50's. Negotiating some low trees, we rejoined the 58/59 scenic circular route at West Park Hill, heading down to Newnham rd. Making the sharp right turn into the B3417 heading up to Lee Moor via Torycombe. This route having been abandoned from network in 1975 with the 60 to Lee Moor and Shaugh Prior replaced by 58/59 circular via Sparkwell and Cornwood. 358 continued up to Torycombe, unrecognizable today with the landscape scarred by the Tungsten mine. After photos at Lee Moor village, we continued along the old road through the china clay tips and onto Cadover bridge. Having crossed the River Plym again and passing over the River Meavy at Gratton bridge we arrived at Yelverton. Then taking the long climb up to Princetown, passing the source of the river Meavy along the way. 

 A lunchbreak was taken in Princetown and a chance of a natter. Amongst those present were your vice chairman Paul Burch, our treasurer, then 15 years old and a 3 year old webmaster.

 Taking the Western National route 113 towards Tavistock, crossing the river Walkham at Merrivale and the river Tavy in Tavistock, where photos were taken in the old configured bus Station. On now to Horrabridge and crossing the river Walkham again. Taking the back road up to Walkhampton, onto Dousland and Burrator to the terminus near Norsworthy bridge at the far end of the lake. After photos 358 returned to Yelverton via Meavy and the very narrow Meavy lane. This had been added to the network the year before on 8th June 1975 with the circular route 56/56A, using PDR1 218 219 220 FJY918E - FJY920E. These were converted to one operation for the 55 - 56 -61 group. Carrying onto Crapstone and Milton Combe, turning in the old way at the top of the road down to Milton Combe and then in the new turning circle built for the one man Atlanteans. Heading back to Plymouth via the Rock Shelter and A386 to Roborough. Then there was no by-pass, no Believer and everthing had to go through the single lane road of Robrough village. Unknown to everyone on board, 358 turned right in the village and headed out along Tamerton lane towards Tamerton Foliot. this would be the road into the industrial estate now, but then a country lane not on any bus route and collecting alot of leaves and tree parts along the way. From Tamerton we headed out to Tamerton Foliot railway station, long since closed (noted to be the least used station in the country!!)

 With the very low trees and everyone taking cover between the seats, 358 managed to turn around in the forecourt. The station building then as now used as a nature centre and the upstairs used by an elderly lady who looked after scores of cats. A club trip would return to the station in the 80's but with a much more suitable vehicle, more of that in another edition.

 After Tamerton, Bull point and Saltash passage were visited. Photos with Western National service 6 then run with Bristol Lodekka FLFs. Heading up Normandy hill still as steep and narrow now as then. The last stop was to be around the Barbican and West Hoe Tinside pool, meeting up with the last sea front circular journey of the day for photos. The service that day being run by Atlantean 158, which is still owned within P.C.T.P.G and awaiting restoration. So we will recreate this photo sometime.

This article acknowledges the article from The Plymouth Bus Club magazine "buses west" May /June 1976 aswell as reminiscences of the author Philip Heseltine.

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358 photo at Horrabridge, Burrator norsworthy bridge terminus, Burrator Dam and Meavy lane, (how p.c.t thought this was a good route for a service??!!)

TOURS FROM 1976 - 78

SUNDAY 26TH FEB 1976  AN68 TOUR TO DARTMOUTH AND TORBAY

This took place the day after our 6th annual evening dinner held at the Elfordleigh hotel. As at the evening before AN68 89 GDR 214N was chosen for the tour, as it had the same fleet number as club bus PD1 89 CJY 299.

 The route taken followed the 93 route through the South Hams to Kingsbridge and onto Dartmouth. 89 was taken carefully onto the higher ferry in Dartmouth (Paul Burch seen in the photo guiding 89 off the ferry)  , the final destination was the Devon General Newton rd depot, but not before stopping at Kingswear, Brixham and Paignton. (my camera packed up at this point P. Heseltine) On arrival at Newton rd depot, we were given a short tour of Torquay in ex Exeter Corporation Guy Arab IV 256 UFJ 296 with Park Royal bodywork. Still in the Western National fleet, it retained its Exeter Corporation green and cream livery.

 For those on the tour it was an opportunity to have an access all areas look around the depot. In 1976 there were still a few buses still in cherry red and ivory livery, then almost phased out by the NBC poppy red livery

 In addition to the numerous Atlanteans and AEC reliances, there were a few withdrawn AEC Regent 5s dating from 1963 with MCW front loading door bodywork. They were parked in the field behind the depot, manly in the tradional Cherry red/ ivory livery, but a few had been painted into the NBC poppy red livery despite being at the end of their working life.

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SUNDAY 20TH MARCH 1977 

SILVER JUBILEE TOUR

A group of PBC members undertook a tour of Plymouth in Leyland Atlantean PDR2 252 MCO 252H which had at the beginning of the year been painted into red white and silver livery for the Queens silver jubilee later in the year. Starting as usual from Milehouse and then Bretonside bus station to pick up members.

 The route followed the the 8 out through Laira narrows and up Pike rd to Manifold gardens for a photo stop.

 Carrying on to Torridge way and down Efford lane. The next part of the route took 252 up the one way road from Lipson vale and left onto Lipson hill clearing the turn with inches to spare!!

The next part of the tour took us to Heybrook bay and then to Wembury point H.M.S Cambridge via the narrow Gabber Lane, passing a articulated vehicle carring hay bails. other destinations on the route were Eggbuckland, Fort Austin, Tamerton Foliot, Wanstead Grove and Tamar way (now long gone under the A38 Parkway)

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SUNDAY 17TH APRIL 1977

Cornish independents tour

Our next tour was to visit several Cornish independent bus operators. Using the latest delivered AN68 104 LTK104R.

 With just enough time to inspect 85 GDR 210N, just out shopped in the revised livery with cream extended around the drivers windscreen.

 Heading down through Cornwall from Saltash, Liskeard, Bodmin, Indian Queens and Redruth (having taken a wrong turn for Cambourne). The first stop was Troon and Grenville motors, a regular purchaser of ex Plymouth transport buses. Present on this day were ex P.C.T PD2/12 "Orion" MCW highbridge bodied Leylands, 52 LCO852 and 60 MCO660. 60 clearly already out of service, missing its engine and radiator. Having failed in Penryn, now keeping 52 running. An inspection of the interior of 52 showed how utilitarian it was, with single skinned panels upstairs and very angular window frames. The next stop was Penzance for a lunch break with very little to see except a Bristol VR 1082 GTA52N on a service 517 from St Ives. The garage at wheerydown had many ex Maidstone Altlanteans and new to Western National Leyland Nationals. 

 Our next garge stop was of Richardson's, trading as Flora motors in Helston. There were several withdrawn buses here, including 55 MCO655 which was leaning against a former East Midland lowbridge Atlantean which was full of hay. 55 was little better with missing windows replaced with hardboard and piled up with old seats. Other vehicles of interest was an ex East Kent full fronted Regent v PFN844, an ex Glasgow Atlantean with an Albion badge DGE314C, and ex Sunderland corporation Leyland Panther with a stylish Strachan dual door body. No visit to Helston would be complete without visiting the old Western National depot. seen here were a few relatively new Bristol VRs and around the back (its always worth walking round the back of a garage) were two un-rebuilt Royal Blue MWs still in traditional blue and cream. 2248/ 9         615/6 DDV. Considering that most of these MWs had been converted to Dual purpose vehicles for local work or sold to south Wales transport, these were a very rare find. Also in the depot was ex Devon general AEC Reliance CCT19C, ex Leyland Leopard 29 115CUF. Bristol VR 1071 BFJ171L with unusual seat coverings incorporating the NBC double N logo. Devon General "sea dog" Atlantean 926GTA "sir Francis Drake" was present sporting its removeable roof. 

 Following a brief visit to Grenville's Penryn depot the next stop was at Roselyn's Par depot. Still resident were ex Maidstone Regent Vs, a city of Oxford Bridgemaster, ex Exeter PD2 15 HFJ142. From here we returned direct to Plymouth.

 

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Sunday 3rd July

SILVER JUBILEE TOUR TO 7TH WEYMOUTH BUS RALLY

The 7th Weymouth bus rally gave us the opportunity to take 252 MCO252H. The only occasion we took a PDR2 on a long distance tour. With a pit stop at Honiton to pick up members no longer living in the local area. The decent of Haldon Hill with gears knocked into neutral by Eric "oxo" Beveridge is something members present will not forget in a hurry!!

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SUNDAY 12TH MARCH 1978

MOORLAND AND COASTAL TOUR

Plymouth Bus Club's final organized outing was "The dartmoor and coastal tour" using the newest bus inthe fleet at the time, AN68 120 OCO120S which had only been in service for 1 month. As 12th March coincided with a major network change including city circular 45/46 replacing the old 25/25A  26 and 49. Without time to set PCB on the blind whilst sat at Shakespear rd, 108 OCO108S pulled up along side 120 heading towards Estover on the first 45 service. After photos, it made us a little late at Crownhill to pick up a dozen trainee officers from RNEC Manadon, who had been invited along by my late father Jimmy who would've been teaching them, to see the beauty of Dartmoor and the English Riviera.

 Plymouth City Transport had designs on operating the "Transmoor Link" on its inception 1976, instead of Western National, so this view taken of 120 by the Warren House inn between Princetown and Moretonhamstead  is a what might of been shot. Plymouth Citybus would take over this service in the late 80's. After Moretonhamstead we continued through Chudleigh to Exeter and on down to Starcross, Dawlish, Teignmouth, Torquay, Paignton and Dartmouth via the higher ferry, Kingsbridge and back to Plymouth by 18.00

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