BTS Members' Weekend May 2008
Following on from the success of the Reading Trolleybus event in May 2006 and the Southern Trolleybus event in May 2007, the BTS was looking to arrange something a bit different in 2008. The committee thought long and hard and came up with the idea of a BTS members’ weekend.
Eight BTS trolleybuses lined up at Sandtoft
The idea behind this was that it would be a great chance for our members to come along and look at our fleet of preserved vehicles and see for themselves the amount of work carried out on them in recent years. It would be an opportunity to socialise with fellow members as well as experiencing the operating environment of trolleybuses at Sandtoft, using mainly the Society’s own trolleybuses.
A barbeque was arranged for the Saturday evening followed by a film/slide show in the lecture theatre showing historic photos of the early days of the Reading Transport Society and its progression into the British Trolleybus Society and its involvement at Sandtoft. On the Sunday it was planned to unveil memorials of our founder, the late Mike Dare, from both Sandtoft and the BTS. In the evening a ‘Chairman's dinner' was arranged at a public house near Thorne, using a preserved motorbus for transport. So, an action packed weekend was planned.
Leading up to the weekend a number of people at Sandtoft were busy preparing the BTS fleet for operation over the weekend, often working until late in the evening to check each vehicle was fit for the job. I won't mention names for fear of missing somebody, but they know who they are! Unfortunately due to work commitments I did not reach Sandtoft until around 09.00 on the Saturday morning. The weather was looking good although the wind was a bit keen.
On arrival I found Glasgow TB78, Reading 113 and London 1812 in service with Derby 172 and Huddersfield 631 on standby. Parked out of use but on display were Bournemouth 99, Cardiff 203 and Aachen 22. South Shields 204 was being worked on in the workshop. The only BTS trolleybuses not on display were Walsall 872 (which resides in Aston Manor Road Transport Museum), Walsall 342 which is stored away from Sandtoft at present and Mexborough 34.
A steady stream of visitors descended on the museum over the course of the day including a couple from New Zealand! When asking visitors where they had come from, most were not local people but from various parts of the UK. Cherryll, Trish and the team were working hard in ‘The Tea Trolley’ café trying to keep up with a steady supply of snacks and drinks.
The five trolleybuses in service were swapped at various times of the day to keep the visitors interest and the usual Isle of Axholme tours were also fully supported in the afternoon.
Cardiff 203 is the vehicle requiring the most attention
and an appeal has been launched to raise funds for its
complete restoration. For more details click on this link.
When the Museum closed at 5pm the opportunity was taken for members present to have a ride on Aachen 22. Although much work needs to be carried out to bring her up to operational standard, she was deemed fit to treat our members to a very rare ride in her.
In the evening the planned barbeque went well following which we went to the Lecture Theatre where I was to show historic photos of RTS/BTS history and Graham Bilbé was to show the two classic films from the late 1960s and early 1970s. The photos showed a number of tours held on UK trolleybus systems in the 1960s by the RTS as well as our trolleybus fleet being collected from the various operators after we had purchased them. Bearing in mind it was 40 years ago, there were a lot of people recognising themselves and how young looking they used to look, including the days when I actually had some hair!!!
Graham showed a film of Reading 181's tour in Cardiff in 1969 which include some hilarious footage of a member chasing after 181 on numerous occasions after he had photographed it. A film of the sponsored bike ride from Reading to Sandtoft, held in 1972, was also shown, much to everyone’s amusement. All too soon the evening came to an end.
The Sunday dawned bright but windy again. Two extra trolleybuses were put into service, namely Reading 144 and South Shields 204. Again a good number of visitors were in attendance, including yet another couple from New Zealand! The day passed much the same as Saturday until at 14.30 it was time to go to the Pelham building to see the unveiling of the BTS memorial to Mike Dare. A portrait of Mike and Beryl Dare had been commissioned and BTS committee member Maria Harvey, an artist by profession, duly supplied a magnificent painting which was very life like of both Mike and Beryl. Sandtoft President J. Stanley King and BTS Chairman Graham Bilbé carried out the unveiling procedure.
Reading trolleybus 144, one of Mike’s trolleybuses, was then utilised to transfer those present to the area outside ‘The Tea Trolley’ where the Sandtoft memorial to Mike was residing. This took the form of a large circular picnic table with 8 seats with a plaque duly inscribed in the middle. Again J. Stanley King and Graham Bilbé conducted proceedings. Following the unveiling ceremonies the trolleybuses did a sterling job to keep up with demand from visitors.
Arguably the most popular trolleybus with Sandtoft visitors
is London 1812, which always seemed to be well loaded when
in service. 1812 is waiting its next service journey in Sandtoft Square.
Once the museum closed at 5pm it was time for a clean up and approximately 40 people were transported to the pub at Thorne by Doncaster AEC Regal No. 22. It was a lovely evening and everyone enjoyed socialising in an environment away from the museum, where they could relax.
Yet again the Monday was sunny but the wind would not go away and operations were much as on the previous two days.
This was a thoroughly enjoyable event and although the number of visitors to Sandtoft on all three days was very encouraging, it was a shame that more BTS members could not have attended as they would have had a thoroughly enjoyable time. I can’t wait for whatever event is planned for 2009.