As you would've seen in Picture Of The Month, Bernard's ex Stagecoach minibus has returned and will hopefully be on the road next year pending a few minor jobs. Also officially joining the collection from next year is TOL the Metrocab taxi. I know it's not a bus but these taxis are very collectible and are slowly becoming a rare sight on our roads. Originally built by MCW, who had a long pedigree in bus building, the design later passed to Reliant (those of the Regal and Robin fame) and finally onto Hooper. TOL is a 1999 series 3 Metrocab and features a fibreglass body with 6 seats in the rear and 2 (including the driver) up front. She was latterly owned by friend of the collection Chris Cartwright, a bus preservationist from Gateshead. Following the gearbox failure on my Fairway taxi, he kindly lent TOL to me. I now have the option to acquire her for myself, so following some major MOT work on her kingpins (more on that later) she will be on the road as our fleet support vehicle.
Well at long last Bernard and myself have collected 40306 from the garage in Rye were she's spent the last two years. She still needs a small amount of work doing to her before her launch on 6/7th May at the Kent & East Sussex Railway's Steam Gala. As you can see, one of the fleet names is incorrect and the rear n/s brake is binding where she's stood for so long. She comes with an MOT so once these minor things are attended to look out for her near you.
This is Bernard's Mercedes Minibus (N306XRP) which last saw service with Stagecoach United Counties. He's owned her for nearly 2 years now but what with everything else going on the work was trusted to a garage which worked on her as and when! Finally she's been done, MOT'd and repainted into a different livery - more on that at a later stage. I've always been a big fan of these Mercs when I used to drive them at Stagecoach East Kent. This one differs from our local Kent ones by having coach seats. Just one remains at East Kent now (as far as I know) and that is N933NAP although there are a few in use with our local independents. A future classic for sure and in another ten years we will be wondering where they have all gone. Considering the huge part minibuses played in turning the flagging industry around, they are very poorly represented in preservation. Imagine if the same had happened to the Bedford OB??? I would've liked to have acquired an early Transit- in fact I owned one for a while which was a works van having been an ex welfare bus with Hackney Council - to restore as an ex EK Minilink or Southern Vectis Wanderer. If you know where any old Carlyle, Robin Hood or Alexander bodied Ford Transit is, I'd love to know... although I'm not holding my breath!
Click here for the archive news pages dating back to 2008.
Owner of 5807, 5809, 5137, 7656, 7681, 7041 & 40301
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