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  Society Activities

Last updated: 06 January 2020

 
 
 
  Ale & Ride’ is hailed a success - 01 January 2020
 
A south coast charity is celebrating after its inaugural New Year’s Day event was an overwhelming success. Members of The Provincial Society, a volunteer-led organisation dedicated to the preservation of historic buses that operated in Gosport and Fareham, arranged for several restored vehicles to take to the streets on the 1st January 2020.
 
The event, titled ‘Ale & Ride’, was the idea of Society trustee Rick Jackson. “It was a chance conversation with like-minded enthusiasts in a pub one evening that gave me the idea of creating a special event to offer the public a chance to take a ride on a selection of beautifully restored preserved buses and enjoy a pint or two without having to drive” explains Rick, a local bus enthusiast who lives in the town. “There are plenty of similar events up and down the country, so I thought why not, let's organise one of our own! It has taken well over a year to plan but all of the hard work and patience has paid off”.
 
Around 900 visitors took the opportunity to enjoy a free ride on an old bus, with some travelling from as far afield as South Yorkshire to join in with the festivities. A selection of single and double deck buses transported people for free between Gosport and Fareham via Lee-On-The-Solent, Stubbington, Hill Head and Titchfield operating to a 30-minute frequency between 11.00 – 17.00. The oldest bus participating was a 1958 Leyland PD2 double deck which originally operated for Portsmouth Corporation, and the newest being a preserved 2001 Dennis Dart single deck which operated for local company Emsworth & District. Other buses travelled from Dorset, Winchester, Southampton and the Isle of Wight. Heritage buses from local bus operators Stagecoach and Go South Coast also attended with the Provincial Society providing two buses from its own collection too.
 
“There’s no doubt about it, everyone who came along had a fantastic day!” said the Provincial Society’s Darren Marshall. “There were up to eleven preserved buses, visiting a selection of fantastic pubs along the way and we will certainly look into repeating the event in 2021. We’ve had a fantastic response from our visitors, publicans and vehicle owners and we will make it bigger and better next year”. Commenting on the event, Darren said “This is a great opportunity to showcase the very best in preserved bus restoration, whilst giving the public an opportunity to leave the car at home and enjoy a drink or two. It also provides a boost to the local economy and gives the Provincial Society a chance to show the public what we do”.

Darren Marshall

2020 ‘Ale & Ride’ facts:

 

         Over a year in the planning stage

         Publicity via social media, website, radio, local bus company and TIC

         Worked in partnership with First with agreement to use bus stations

         26 individual journeys operated

         Over 350 miles covered

         Approximately 900 passenger journeys recorded

         11 stops on route, 11 pubs served

         Volunteer-run event

         Buses provided free of charge, all owners covered their own fuel costs

 

Fleet list:

 

         112 - ORV 989 - 1958 Leyland PD2/40 ex City of Portsmouth Passenger Transport Department

         133 - TTR 167H - 1969 Leyland Atlantean PDR1A/1 ex Southampton City Transport

         863 – TDL 563K - 1971 Bristol RELL6G ex Southern Vectis

         4413 – BFX 666T – 1978 Bristol VRT ex Hants & Dorset/Wilts & Dorset and now owned by Go South Coast

         1563 – FDV 793V – 1979 Bristol LHS ex Devon General/Southern Vectis

         1 – A301 KJT – 1984 Leyland National MK2 ex Provincial

         3 – H523 CTR – 1990 ACE Cougar ex People’s Provincial

         501 – J501 GCD – 1991 Dennis Dart ex Stagecoach Hastings & District and now owned by Stagecoach South

         1324 – N324 ECR – 1995 Dennis Dart ex Southampton CityBus/First Provincial

         42728 – T728 REU – 1999 Dennis Dart Pointer 2 SLF ex First Bristol/First Hampshire

         KV51 KZJ – 2001 Dennis Dart/MPD ex Browns of Edinburgh/Countryliner/Emsworth & District

 

Vehicle owners & groups providing buses;

 

City of Portsmouth Preserved Transport Depot (112). Southampton & District Transport Heritage Trust (133). Isle of Wight Bus & Coach Museum (863). Go South Coast (4413). Hampshire Bus Preservation Group (consortium – 1563). Darren Marshall (1). The Provincial Society (3 & 42728). Stagecoach South (501). Dave York (1324). Aaron Martin/South Coast Preservation Group (KV51 KZJ).

H523 CTR at The Inn By the Sea, Lee (BJ) FDV 793V on layover at Gosport Bus Station (TL) TTR 167H leaving Fareham Bus Station (BJ)
     
Bristol RE at Bugle Hotel, Titchfield (MA) A301 KJT at The Inn by the Sea, Lee (MA) T728 REU approaching Titchfield Square (CD)
     
N324 ECR outside the Inn by the Sea. Lee (MA) BFX 666T on layover at Fareham Bus Station (RJ)
   
KV51 KZJ leaving Fareham Bus Station (RJ) J501 GCD arriving at Gosport Bus Station (RJ) ORV 989 approaching The Osborne View, Hill Head (CD)

(C) Malcolm Audsley (MA), Chris Drew (CD), Bob Jackson (BJ), Rick Jackson (RJ) & Terry Lawson (TL)

 
 
 
 

Ride & Fire - 14 April 2019

New for 2019, the Provincial Society is working in partnership with the Explosion Museum at Priddy’s Hard to provide a heritage bus link between Gosport Bus Station and the museum. In the first of five events on 14 April, twenty passengers were carried and the museum staff were delighted with the additional people attending the exhibition and café on site. These two buses were operating on this inaugural occasion – Gerry Tormey’s Bristol SU and Terry Lawson’s Bristol RE – both seen here leaving the museum compound heading towards Gosport town. Our next similar “Ride & Fire” partnership will be held on Sunday 12 May when two different heritage buses will be running. 

Photos: John Sherwin

 

 
 
 
  HMS Sultan Summer Show 2017

Five buses were involved in this year's Sultan Summer Show. They were ACE Cougar H523 CTR; Bristol RE ECG 112K; Bristol SU 274 KTA (pictured); Volvo Eclipse BF63 HDN (Sat) and Eclipse ADL Enviro200MMC YX66 WBT (Sun). On Saturday, 814 people were carried from the internal car park to the show, while on Sunday 1052 were carried. As usual, this part of the show was organised by the Provincial Society with the generous help of FirstH&D

Photo and report by John Sherwin

 
 
 
 

Gosport’s Buses and Trams - 05/06 May 2017

In only two hectic days, the exhibition was mounted just in time for the preview evening on 5 May where trustees, committee, donors and local dignitaries – Mayor of Gosport, Cllr Lynn Hook and her Consort, Cllr Mark Hook, Leader of the Council and Caroline Dinenage (M.P. at the time of the invitation) had a special opportunity to enjoy a guided tour of the displays led by our archivist, Chris Richardsen.

The layout follows a chronological path from stage coach days, horse trams, electric trams, early motor bus activities right up to the current Eclipse services covering all key aspects on the way. As well as comprehensive accounts of each stage, there are ample artefacts to demonstrate the life on public transport at the time. Kindly, donors have offered their own items for display. Chris has managed to include a blend of artefacts from the Society’s own collection, some from the Hampshire Cultural Trust and others from private collections, a few of which have never been seen in public before.

In addition to the static display, there is a quiz for children with questions based on their close observations. The prize for the winner is a model of an Eclipse bus donated by First Hampshire & Dorset. From the ferry to the end of the main street, a walk has been produced with information at key points to show a direct link with the public transport of the past. Outside attractions of static displays of appropriate heritage vehicles in Lawrence Square will appear on some Saturdays during the period of the indoor exhibition. A further extension of the main indoor display is the offer of free rides on preserved Provincial buses.

Photo: Gerry Tormey   Photo: John Sherwin
 
 
 
 

Slide Show by Mike Caldicott - 26 March 2017

Stepping back in more ways than one, members were treated to a slide show of tens of pictures from Mike Caldicott’s slide collection at the indoor meeting on Sunday 26 March at Portchester.

His photos and copies reflected the early trams of Bournemouth and Southampton to Nationals and Lynx examples along the south coast. Starting at Bournemouth, Mike’s show travelled along the coast towards Portsmouth and Brighton with a few incursions away from the sea like the views of King Alfred’s at Winchester. Sometimes, Mike would bring some personal recollections into the conversation when he talked of his days as a driver at Ringwood depot when he described the ways in which different buses could be handled. All the old favourites were on show – Hants & Dorset, Yellow Buses, Southampton, Portsmouth, Provincial, Southdown and Brighton & Hove. It was a fascinating glimpse into a different time using what has become quite unusual these days – a slide projector! Many thanks to Mike for offering us an opportunity to dip into his array of photographic moments from the past. 

 
 
 
  Transport Fair - 22 October 2016

Our seventh annual Transport Fair was held from 11.00 to 15.00 on Saturday 22 October at Portchester Parish Hall. There was a range of stalls selling books, photos, models and anything for the transport enthusiast as usual. A new book entitled: ‘Provincial in Grimsby’ was available on the day. Sixty one people attended and seemed to enjoy the experience. Unfortunately, the preserved bus for free rides was unavailable.

Provincial in Grimsby

This A5 book, filled with sixty two pages of text and black and white photographs, is the result of many years of research by the main author, Stewart Brett. The majority of the photos have never been published before. Although specifically about the tramway operations in Grimsby, there is reference to Gosport when vehicles were transferred. A comprehensive study which contains information about the horse trams of Great Grimsby Street Tramways from 1881 and the electric trams and motor vehicles from 1901. The fleet history of the motor vehicle fleet of Provincial Tramways Co Ltd from 1907 onwards is featured. In addition, the service and haulage fleets are documented. All detail appears in chronological sequence for clarity.

This book was launched at the Transport Fair in Portchester on 22 October and is now available online from our shop.

 
 
 
  Launch of new Eclipse buses - 30 September 2016

A small press launch for the new Eclipse Enviro 200s was held on Friday September 30 at West Street, Fareham. As well as the great & good, also present were a stilt walker & juggler - oh and one of the new Enviros!
The new buses enter service on Sunday October 2.

Photo and report by Malcolm Audsley

 

 

 
 
 
  Gosport Heritage Open Days - 10-11 September 2016

Our second attendance at the Gosport Heritage Open Days at Cooperage Green were three ex Provincial buses which provided a free bus ride around Gosport.

Photo and report by Gerry Tormey

 
 
 
 

Volvo Running Day - 12 December 2015

The day before this event, we were informed that only one Volvo was likely to be operating as many had been withdrawn. For certain, no. 66197 (S797 RWG) would be running on services F1 and F2 around the Fareham Highlands area. However, on the day, another Volvo was operating as well. No. 66158 358 XCR) joined in and both were seen on F1, F2, 10 and 11 routes throughout the day. As we had been sent the bus graphs on the previous day, the Society was able to announce for members what times these buses would be running. As the attached photo reveals, it was a gloomy day for much of the time. A full account should appear in a future edition of ‘Provincial Press’

Photos and report by John Sherwin

 
 
 
  Pre-Christmas Social - 05 December 2015

About a quarter of the members gathered for the annual pre-Christmas Social at the Queens Hotel in Gosport on 5 December for a couple of hours of 'meeting and greeting' from 3pm. People had a chance to catch up with fellow enthusiasts and exchange memories and comments on the past year. As usual, the landlady, Sue, provided a superb spread of sandwiches and sausage rolls plus some cakes and biscuits to follow. It was a wonderful start to the festive season before the hectic days of last minute shopping and card writing begin!

Photos and report by John Sherwin

 
 
 
  Vintage Transport Group Fair - 15 November 2015

On 15 November, the Society had a stall at the Vintage Transport Group's indoor fair at Cosham. Held in the Community Centre, the fair attracted a reasonable attendance on the wet day, although numbers dropped considerably after lunchtime.

Our shop products raised £72 and a few people took away a membership form and details of the Society.

Thanks to Joe Weltch and Ken Morey for helping John Sherwin during the day.

Photos and report by John Sherwin

 
 
 
 

Film Show - 08 November 2015

For three hours during the afternoon of 8 November, members were taken back twenty years when they watched Bob Gray’s films. A glimpse of the local area revealed the various activities around Fareham with plenty of Red Admiral minibuses and Provincial’s Nationals crossing the screen! It was a time of change as buses began to display First’s symbolic ‘f’ scroll on windows and a few were emerging in the new red and cream livery. In addition, Bob showed some views of Hants & Sussex vehicles in their yard with ample former London Transport Merlins parked up. Chichester and Havant Bus Stations were favourites of Bob at that time as we saw lots of action at both with the once familiar Stagecoach stripes on parade. Sussex Bus appeared as well at times and there was even a view of the line up on a wet Showbus at Duxford. What was staggering as well were the changes of scenery in parts of Fareham – a time with no Bus Gate and buses on layover parked in a diagonal fashion with the rear of the bus against the back wall at Fareham Bus Station making reversing with buses in service quite an art! A most enjoyable time at Portchester Parish Hall and many thanks to Bob and Gerry for providing this opportunity!

Report by John Sherwin

 
 
 
  Launch of the Solent Rangers - 02 November 2015

As representative of The Provincial Society, the chairman John Sherwin was invited to the official press launch of the newly-branded Streetlite fleet based at Hoeford. This event was held on a misty morning at Portchester Castle on 2 November. The four buses on display were available to view and photograph. At the biref ceremony, Marc Reddy (MD FH&D) told everyone that over the last three years £24m had been invested into 156 buses in the local fleet. The 17 new Euro6 engined Streetlites represents £2.7m of that total. The X4/5 is proving to be a successful route with 1.5m passengers a year and this figure is growing and expected to grow with these new buses.

After the ceremony, the buses left the display area for work on the routes straightaway. All, but three, had arrived by the launch day so the new fleet will be introduced gradually.

Photos and report by John Sherwin

 
 
 
 

Transport Fair - 24 October 2015

On Saturday 24 October, we held our annual indoor fair at Portchester Parish Hall. It was a dry, but dull day and attracted more people than in previous years. In addition, we had the new feature of free bus rides on preserved Guy Arab no. 55 by kind permission of FH&D. Three journeys were made from the Parish Hall to Cosham and Port Solent, where there was a photo opportunity, as shown in the accompanying picture. Not many double deckers make their way to this location so it was quite rare for several reasons. The Society shop was there as well as several other stallholders including a large selection of transport books and DVDs from SCT Publishing and a huge spread of transport memorabilia on Bob Gray’s stall. Thanks to all the members who helped throughout the day.

Photos and report by John Sherwin

 
 
 
 

Society Visit to Lucketts, Fareham - 11 October 2015

On Sunday 11 October 2015, sixteen members of the Society enjoyed a tour of Lucketts depot in Wallington, Fareham. Mark Jordan, Group Engineering Director gave the group a detailed tour of the site with an explanation of how the family business had grown from its humble beginnings in 1926 when Harry Luckett owned a haulage business and ‘bought a coach for a bit of fun’.

Nowadays the company owns 116 vehicles and employs 351 staff. The empire consists of the former Coliseum coach business and Worthing Coaches as well as a National Express franchise. About 20% of their trade is in holiday tours with a door-to-door package offered to customers. The six-figure fleet numbers were explained as follows: 420344 would mean that the vehicle originally possessed 42 seats and was the third of its kind purchased, but up-graded to seat 44.

Although the company is massive in comparison with 1926, it has grown considerably since 1992 when there were just twenty coaches in the fleet. It has become a professional organisation with a control room and engineering works as well as a planning department within the Wallington complex. However, it has still retained its identity as a family business with two Lucketts sons in charge today. At the end of the tour, we saw the new coach wash installed in April 2015 in operation. This replaced the previous ten year old unit which had seen 98,000 washes in its time.

A few goodies of mugs, key fobs, pens and coasters were given to us while we had  coffee and biscuits before the Chairman thanked Mark for his two hour interesting and informative tour.

Gerry Tormey kindly agreed to make use of his preserved Bristol SU to collect the group from various locations as the Lucketts headquarters is off the beaten track!

The accompanying photograph taken by John Sherwin shows one of the latest coaches to arrive in the fleet this month.

Photos and report by John Sherwin

 
 
 
 

Gosport Heritage event - 13/14 September 2015

The Provincial Society was invited to attend the recent Gosport Heritage event which was held for the period 10 – 13 September 2015. As one of 66 attractions in the borough, our display and free rides this year was one of the new ideas. Four buses assembled in Cooperage Green car park at Royal Clarence Yard on the Saturday and Sunday. No one had any idea of the numbers as it was a first time!

                         

On Saturday, Guy Arab no. 55 (EHO 228) operated four trips around the town in conjunction with Terry Lawson’s Bristol RE no. 12 (ECG 112K) between them they carried 130 people on the eight journeys. The route was a circular eleven mile run with one stop only at the Diving Museum at Stokes Bay. On Sunday, no. 12 took 63 people around.

In addition, the Society’s Cougar was on display for people to view as well as Leyland National no. 1 (A301 KJT). For a first time, it was pleasing to see the level of interest and we raised the profile of ‘The Provincial Society’ again. Gosport’s MP Caroline Dineage visited the group on Saturday morning during her whistle-stop tour of the various activities on offer.

If we are invited back in 2016, we will hope for more interest and maybe some more buses from the preserved Provincial survivors.

Photos and report by John Sherwin

 
 
 
 

Dashing in a Dart - 06 September 2015

Sixteen members joined this event on 6 September 2015 which started at Fareham Bus Station. Other members were collected at Portchester Precinct and Cosham Compound before the trip began in earnest. Events Organiser, Fred York, had devised a route which combined modern day services with those from the past. From Cosham, the bus turned northwards towards Denmead Green as a typical X9 journey. After a photo opportunity there, the Dart journeyed back to the Hard Interchange, which was mostly fenced off to make a safe area for the work in hand to replace the whole place by Spring 2016. With some stops at Waterlooville on the return leg of the X9, for example, more photographs could be captured by members if they wished.

After an hour for lunch when the bus was parked at Winston Churchill Avenue because of the shortage of space by the Hard, members joined the vehicle selected which was no. 40827 (R647 DUS) based at Hilsea. More photographs were taken in the bright, warm sunshine and soon, all were ready for a journey from the past. David York, the driver, followed the former service 17 around ‘the circuit’ of the regular 17/8 route until just a few years ago.

Photos and report by John Sherwin

 
 
 
 

Film Show - 16 October 2014

Members attending the film show on 16 November were given the special treat of viewing Arthur Syson's 45 minute film of the Gosport and Fareham area in the 1960s. After a brief interval, members viewed more from Bob Gray's selection of film which included lots of Nationals and a glimpse into the Hants & Sussex yard as well as time at the former Southsea Spectacular.

Report by John Sherwin

 
 

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