The Isle of Wight Bus & Coach Museum, based in Ryde, is delighted to introduce RYDABUS: a vintage Bus Running weekend offering transport enthusiasts and members of the public alike the opportunity to re-live bus operations from a bygone age.
The event takes place on Saturday & Sunday 20th & 21st May 2017, when a network of free bus services, similar to those seen in and around Ryde in the 1960’s, 70’s and 80’s will be operated using preserved buses and coaches, many of which are typical of the types used in the area during that period.
The event’s RYDABUS title derives from the late 1970’s when the National Bus Company undertook its Market Analysis Project (MAP), when each company reviewed its existing and potential demands and reset local service networks to reflect the results. The outcome of MAP introduced local identities such as RYDABUS, which name was applied to buses, bus stops, timetables and publicity throughout the Ryde area.
Ryde has, for many years, been the “gateway to the Island,” being the main port for ferry services from Portsmouth and Southsea as far back as the early 19th century. Ryde Pier Gates, Ryde Esplanade and, since 1974, Ryde Bus Station, have been major terminus points for motor omnibus services since they started operating on the Island in the early 20th century.
From 1929, the main bus operator on the Isle of Wight has been The Southern Vectis Omnibus Company, whose name combines the initial interests of the Southern Railway and the Roman name for the Island. However, Ryde was also the last stronghold of a long lived stage carriage route between Ryde and Seaview operated by local independent, Seaview Services. Vehicles originating with Southern Vectis will predominate in free passenger carrying service throughout the event weekend; however an example of a former Seaview Services bus is displayed at the Isle of Wight Bus & Coach Museum and another is expected to be in service.
The core services cover five routes based on those operated by Southern Vectis over the years; however they are also re-creating part of the former Seaview Services route between Seaview and Ryde which operated from 1922 to 1992.
- The flagship route is service 7. Southern Vectis once ran open top buses along the entire Haylands to Seaview corridor, and they are reliving those days by using open top buses on virtually all journeys. The return leg from Seaview to Ryde replicates the former Seaview Services route. This service showcases the two most recent roadworthy additions to the Isle of Wight Bus & Coach Museum fleet, in the form of beautifully restored Bristol K YWG109 dating from 1940, and Leyland Olympian K743ODL which was new to Southern Vectis in closed top form in 1993, converted by them to open top configuration during the winter of 2003/4, and donated by Southern Vectis to the Museum in October 2016.
- The route re-creation continues with service 6B to Binstead, using ‘half cab’ (engine beside the driver) double deckers. Many generations of this type of vehicle graced the Island and they are fortunate in having so many such buses in preservation on the Island and on the mainland.
- The service 20 recreates the service between Ryde and Elmfield, extended in 1981 to the new Tesco superstore (the first such store on the Island), although by that time the route was renumbered 6. The service uses front entrance double deck buses from the late 1960’s, 1970’s and 1980’s. The design of the front entrance bus, first seen on the Island in 1969, has evolved into the type of vehicle now prevalent with Southern Vectis on Island roads, and with other operators throughout the UK.
- Service 6 is a direct contrast to the 20, as it uses smaller single deck vehicles, terminating at the 1970’s built Pell Estate. The area is still served by Southern Vectis today, but the original terminating service was abandoned following completion of the through road in the 1980s and the introduction of Minibuses. One such vehicle, B259MDL, has entered preservation by recent donation to the Isle of Wight Bus & Coach Museum.
- Last, but by no means least, is service 3 to the village of Havenstreet. The original route started and finished at Ryde Esplanade, serving Havenstreet and beyond, using a mixture of single and double deck buses. However clearance under the railway bridge at Havenstreet has since been reduced so, to simplify travel between the event and the home of the Isle of Wight Steam railway, they are operating direct from the Isle of Wight Bus & Coach Museum using larger single deck vehicles.
- RYDABUS will also give you the opportunity to go ‘back to school’ on a number of specially recreated Schools services which augment and connect with their core routes on both days of the event. Subject to availability, all the buses that they are planning to use on these special Schools services will be wearing the smart Tilling Green livery that was typical on buses prior to the NBC corporate livery, first introduced on buses on the Island in 1972.
- The Coach Tour, using a small capacity coach, with a maximum of 15 persons per tour, will take you to Brading Railway Station to visit the Heritage Centre and Signal Box.
Travel on their mini-coach service to Brading is entirely free of charge but must be booked on the day by obtaining a free ticket from inside the Museum. There is a nominal charge payable at Brading, for access to Brading Signal Box.
The itinerary for the visit will be available from the ticket desk within the Museum.
The coach will wait at the station until your tour is complete and then return you to the Isle of Wight Bus & Coach Museum.
- The Historic Ryde, Open Top Tour,
accompanied by an experienced local guide, will transport you around
the town with a commentary about the fine views of Ryde and the seafront
The Isle of Wight Bus & Coach Museum is extremely grateful to Southern Vectis for providing their vintage open top Bristol K bus, CDL899 otherwise known as “The Old Girl,” now in her 78th year with the same owner, for this tour. This is an ideal opportunity to ride on this iconic and original Isle of Wight vehicle.
- Travel on the Historic Ryde Tour will require visitors to purchase special tickets, available only on the day from inside the Museum.