18 June 2007

Day 3 of 4: Weymouth

Peter had hit upon a great wheeze which saw our whole day cost nothing in terms of travel if we doubled back on ourselves to Bournemouth on the National Express Service 205 (Poole - Gatwick) and then got on the summer only Service 316 (Portsmouth - Exeter) alighting at Weymouth. The 316 also calls at Poole though intercepting it here would mean a £1.80 bus fare on the M2 and the time on board the bus was megligable. The downer was that, catching the 205 from Parkstone to Bournemouth, meant a 20 min walk to the coach stop, much of it being uphill. Peter really isn't built for hills! Not dissimilar to a vintage bus, the slightest incline makes him near enough stop!!

Still, full laden with an internal, digesting full, english breakfast, we set out on foot to board the 1015 NX Service 205 to Bournemouth for 1030. The vehicle in question was operated by Excelsior and was another of their Volvo B12Bs though this one had Jonckheere bodywork and registered A16 XEL, carrying fleet number 916. We arrived in Bournemoth and the sun was shining, the birds singing and the temperature pretty high!

The summer only Service 316 is also operated by Excelsior and vehicles in their yellow/light mustard livery. YN05 VSM was our chariot on the 1055 departure. It was a Volvo B10M with Plaxton Paragon bodywork and very welcome climate control. We alighted in Weymouth bang on time, at 1210.

The bus rally in Weymouth was commemorating 40 years of the rear-engined bus in the town and over 70 vehicles were parked towards the end of the harbour. They'd been positioned fairly well for the sun and the photography was good. Luckily, the area where the buses were parked was off the beaten track, so having the wait for people to move out of the way was almost non existent. The event also marked a Royal Blue running event from Cheltenham the day before, with the vehicles parked in the rally. Additional to the static vehicles, a timetable had been organised, offering free services to three localities nearby: Route 21 made use of 1960s coaches attending, taking people to Abbotsbury; Route 22 used rear-engined buses, taking passengers to nearby lighthouse Portland Bill; and Route 23 utilised open top buses for rides along the seafront. Pete and I managed a ride on Route 23, which was in fact a Bristol SUL4A, registered 675 COD, and is one of only three known examples preserved; the run to Portland Bill was on a Western National liveries Leyland National, HTA 844N. I remember very vividly travelling on Leyland Nationals as a kid, during jaunts in East Midland and Chesterfield Transport territory, so travelling on this vehicles was a fairly momentous moment for me - similar to when people my dad's age relive their childhood memories of travelling to college on a Lodekka.

We didn't return immediately on the LN, but waited for the penultimate journey of the day - a Southern National liveries Bristol VR, VDV 122S. Lincolnshire RoadCar operated a plethora of VRs in my native Lincolnshire when I was a child, though I rarely travelled on them, unlike Peter, who, even in adulthood, travelled regularly on these vehicles.

Weymouth is unusual in that it has a railway line running through its main shopping area. Its last known use was in 1999 when it took a charter train along its length. Built linking the rail station in the town to the harbour, the trains using it would carry those booked on boats/ships to the Channel Islands that departed from Weymouth Harbour. A chap would walk in front of it waving a flag to warn motorists of the obvious danger approaching. Like everything, the chances of it ever being used again are virtually nil; in 2002 the local paper carried an article claiming the rails will be taken up in the near future. Another piece of nostalgia gone for good when this happens.

Our return coach to Poole, NX Service 333, operated by John Shaw (Travellers Choice) of Carnforth, Lancs, was at the stop awaiting our arrival 10 mins before we were due to leave. Nearly new Volvo B12B/Caetano Levante FJ56 PDU was operating the service and despite a spirited run by the driver, we were late arriving in Poole! Peter had opted for a reverse of the outward route though I said we'd be better risking a free ride on the train, as on a Sunday evening, the chances of being caught on a 4 minute rail journey were almost nil.

And lo it came to pass that two adults from Lincolnshire boarded the 1932 SWT service from Poole to Parkstone without a valid ticket for the journey. As predicted nothing was said. The train was 444 020 and as we alighted there was an almighty thunderstorm so we made use of the pub adjacent to the station for an hour before dodging the rain drops back to the Blue Shutters guest house.