Wirral Bus & Tram Show 2014

The annual Wirral Bus & Tram Show this year is on Sunday 5th October 2014, the show is one of the largest FREE transport shows in the North West. The show starts at 10am, finishes around 4pm and is laid out over two main sites.

An AEC Regent III with a Weymann body registered GB-21-07 from Lisbon in Portugal along with Lisbon Tram 730

An AEC Regent III with a Weymann body registered GB-21-07 from Lisbon in Portugal along with Lisbon Tram 730

We’ve listed everything there is to know about the Bus & Tram show for this years event, if you’ve still got questions please leave a comment below.

This year marks the seventeenth Wirral Bus & Tram Show, as with every year there is a great focus with the buses. These include our three buses, Birkenhead 10 (FBG 910) which is a Leyland PD2/40 chassis married to a Wigan-built Massey body, Wallasey 1 (FHF 451) which is a Leyland Atlantean PDR1 which is married to a Metro-Cammell body, it is argued by many that it’s fame to claim is it’s the first production Leyland Atlantean, and finally MPTE 1070 (B926 KWM), a Leyland Atlantean married to an Alexander body and it’s fame to claim is it’s the last standard length production Leyland Atlantean for use in the United Kingdom.

Other vehicles from the Wirral Transport Museum are also presented and used on local free bus services as well as specially organised timetabled excursions, but more about them later. Some buses are still undergoing restoration, they can be seen at the Wirral Transport Museum where you can see the ongoing restoration of various vehicles.

The show attracts visiting vehicles from private owners of vintage buses through to local operators showing their latest additions to their fleets too, most entries are mainly from around the North West bus some as far as Yorkshire and the Midlands are also present at the show, all of which are parked up on the Shore Road site with approximately 45 buses on display there.

Crosville was a vital part of Wirral transport life for decades, a special excursion to West Kirby will run at some point throughout the day. Potteries Motor Traction is also another note worthy operation that previously operated in the area, in previous years a wide variety of vehicles have been displayed representing the company.

We’re delighted to announce that due to last years superb loadings on our free half-hourly service connecting the show with the delightful seaside town of New Brighton, it will once again be running to the town at a half-hourly frequency again this year.

Trams also play a very big part of the show, every year the show boasts a four tram service, the line is just under 1 mile long, and a section of the track follows the very first part of the street tramway all them 150 years ago, some of the other trams including Warrington 2 and Liverpool Corporation (Baby Grand) 245 are undergoing restoration by the Merseyside Tramway Preservation Society can be seen at the Transport Museum at Taylor Street. A small charge applies to ride the tram service for the upkeep of the tramway infrastructure and vehicles.

The collection is somewhat varied, from local preserved tramcars from Birkenhead, Liverpool and Wallasey Corporation Tramways then a fine example of a Lisbon tram that was adapted to run on the standard gauge track rather than the 900mm gauge used in Lisbon. The two more modern examples were built specifically for the Birkenhead Heritage Tramway by Hong Kong Tramways in 1992. They both had a spell of operation in Blackpool before arriving on the Wirral and are the mainstay of the operating fleet.

At the museum there is a wide variety of vintage motorcycles, a model railway layout, vintage garage scene, along with sales stands selling all sorts of bus memorabilia such as DVD’s of bygone buses, trams and trains and plenty of other interesting things too.

So all that is left to say is see you there!

Built at Workington Day

The North West Vehicle Restoration Trust celebrated all things built at Leyland’s Workington factory on Sunday 10th August 2014, with no less than 10 vehicles taking part in the days “running day” style event. The weather, despite cold and raining didn’t stop visitors flocking to the event to celebrate their combined passion for vehicles built by Leyland in a now gone by age. The 201 Bus Group proudly presented two of their Leyland’s for display at the depot, namely MCW bodied Leyland Atlantean PDR1/1 FHF 451 (Wallasey 1) and Massey bodied Leyland Titan PD2/40 FBG 910 (Birkenhead 10).

A line up of Leyland buses taking part in the cavalcade to mark the end of the day celebrating vehicles built at Workington.

A line up of Leyland buses taking part in the cavalcade to mark the end of the day celebrating vehicles built at Workington.

Leyland’s purpose built plant at Workington opened in 1971 where production of the then revolutionary Leyland National, in partnership with the National Bus Company, commenced. The plant still survives to this day, now split between Stagecoach in Cumbria as one of their depots in the area, and the other half belonging to the haulage firm Eddie Stobarts. During its 22 years as an operational manufacturing facility, many different types were produced en masse for both UK and international markets, right up until its closure in 1993, following takeover by Volvo.

During the following years, the factory went from strength to strength as Leyland seen marked success in the industry, with operators buying the National, and it’s successor, the National 2, in their thousands. Their double deck Leyland Titan vehicle also had production transferred to Workington after the first examples were bodied at Park Royal’s. Production of the Titan ceased in 1984/5, with the National swiftly following suit, the last examples being delivered new to London Transport and Halton Transport respectively. The last National C49 OCM was in use on the day. Workington was also home to the production of another one of Leyland’s new concept, the railbus. The idea soon developed into the Pacer, and later the Sprinter, types of train, which saw large success amongst operators in the UK.

A new era then begun at Workington as de-regulation was nearing,  following an extended period of success from the 70′s and continuing into the 80′s, they consolidated their empire. With production of all Leyland Olympians transferring from the Bristol plant that had once produced Lodekka’s and VR’s up to Workington. They were produced alongside the replacement for the National, the Lynx. Leyland also expanded their product range, manufacturing a luxury version of their successful bus and coach chassis, the Tiger. Named the Tiger Doyen, it introduced a new element of comfort to coach travel at the time, moving on from the previous wood effect formica covering all of the interior that was commonplace, and replacing it is all with soft trim, as well as a spacious comfortable interior, while still offering plenty of luggage space for the travelling commuter. Sadly, it was a design that was short lived, and didn’t see the success that it perhaps deserved.

Following deregulation, Leyland’s success continued, though not to the extent that it was in earlier days. Sales of the Olympian still made it the most successful decker of the time, while sales of the Lynx, and later the Lynx 2, continued at a steady rate, although nowhere near matching the National. Come the early 90′s, Leyland began to struggle in an ever-advancing and competitive market, with sales falling, the inevitable eventually happened, and Leyland sold out to Volvo in 1993. The Olympian continued to be the most successful selling double decker for a number of years following, before production finally ceased in 1999; it was widely considered the Olympian was the main reason for Volvo’s buyout of an otherwise failing manufacturer. The Lynx, despite Leylands once high hopes for a bus that could have been so much more than it turned out to be, wasn’t so fortunate, and following the last examples manufactured and being delivered to Halton Transport, production ceased, being replaced by the Volvo B10B.

Leyland left behind a long and interesting legacy, much of it as a result of it’s years spent producing quality products at Workington. Come along to this day to see all that was good about those years, and sample the products of one of the most famous manufacturers of the 20th Century.

Check out the North West Vehicle Restoration Trust’s website at nwvrt.co.uk.

Welcome new members!

Great news folks! We’ve had a recent surge in new memberships to the 201 Bus Group, with that, we’d like to thank everyone who’s taken their time to join up as fully paid up members to the group, membership cards will be issued to you all in the near future.

A group like ours relies on memberships and continued donations as well as running our sales stand to keep us going, without our dedicated members we’d probably not be where we are today.

To become a member of the 201 Bus Group, click here to visit our Membership page and download our application form.

Video: Leyland Atlantean B926 KWM

We’d like to say a big thank you to one of our drivers, Kenneth Fowler, who has for the last couple of years driven our trio of vehicles around the North West and indeed into North Wales taking our members to and from events.

He has taken the decision to hang up his boots from driving buses after our visit to the North West Museum of Road Transport on Sunday, he will of course still be joining us as a passenger in the future on our many trips around the north West.

Normal service resumes

You may have been wondering why we haven’t been posting too much over the last five months, the main reason behind it is that many of our members have day jobs, and as the entire organisation is run by volunteers there simply hasn’t been enough time to keep our regular postings going – but that changes today!

Whilst we’ve been offline, we’ve been busy giving Alexander AL bodied Leyland Atlantean B926 KWM a complete refresh of its MTL Wirral Peninsula livery which was undertaken by our members as well as a little help from our friends at the North West Vehicle Restoration Trust. To compliment the repaint we’ve had its electronic ticket machine looked at after it malfunctioned after a year of installation, this has now been fixed thanks to Gaz McPartridge from Destination Blinds.

Alexander AL bodied Leyland Atlantean B926 KWM stands on Pacific Road whilst members board to visit the Llandudno Transport Festival.

We’ve visited quite a few events too, firstly providing the free transport connecting the Wirral Transport Museum in Birkenhead to a Model Railway Exhibition in Wallasey Village, then although we didn’t attend with a bus, many of our members visited the Merseyside Transport Trust‘s Buses to Broadway event held in April, moving onwards we attended the Museum of Transport Greater Manchester‘s Spring Transport Festival back in March, the Llandudno Transport Festival at the beginning of May as well as the POPS organised Potteries Transport Rally in Stoke-on-Trent.

A full list of events we’re attending throughout the rest of the year will be published on our events page very shortly.

‘Tis the season everyone!

It’s December, the queues at the shops are long, the public transport system get’s stretched to near it’s bursting limits and a mere dusting of snow covers the relatively flat landscape of the Wirral Peninsula.

Yes Christmas is fast approaching, and one of the greatest joys of the season is to take the opportunity to say thank you to all our members and friends for their hard work and support throughout the year.

Quite frankly the 201 Bus Group would simply cease to exist if it wasn’t for everyone taking time out of their busy schedules to help an organisation with a simply unique collection of buses.

A new year is on the horizon, this too comes with new challenges. These will of cause will be dealt with with passion and commitment we give to ensure the continued preservation and understanding of the history of public transport on the Wirral Peninsula continues.

Wirral Transport Museum to be handed over to its volunteers

Wirral Borough Council who currently own the Wirral Transport Museum on Taylor Street in Birkenhead are proceeding with transfer discussions with its volunteers, after earlier discussions with Merseytravel fell through back in 2011.

The outcome of this will be that the museum will be taken over by its volunteers, without the assistance of Wirral Borough Council. This will mean that the museum will have to become self sufficient in terms of upkeep and maintenance as well as any other overheads that the museum holds.

Heritage groups such as the 201 Bus Group and the Merseyside Tramway Preservation Society as well as others connected with the museum feared at one stage it could become a victim of a budget crackdown to make inroads into Wirral Council’s multi-million pound overspend, although now there is some light at the end of a very long tunnel at least.

The target date for completion of these discussions and a handover to the volunteers is expected to take place on 31st March 2014.