17 Jul Jason & Gareth’s Brilliant British Adventure: 2

Rapido UK Blog / July 17, 2017

Jason & Gareth’s Brilliant British Adventure: 1
Driving the Sandtoft Trollies

By Jason Shron

Follow Jason & Gareth’s Brilliant British Adventure from start to finish:

1 – Launching the first British Rapido bus
2 – Driving the Sandtoft Trollies
3 – Exploring Rails of Sheffield
4 – A hard day’s work with Revolution Trains
5 – A day at the seaside with Railway Modeller

After a very busy day on Sunday, Terry Wynne, Gareth and I decided to stop in Nottingham on the way to Epworth, Lincolnshire. As there are 12 different vegetarian restaurants in Nottingham, we were certain that finding a place for supper would be absolutely no problem at all.

Little did we know that vegetarians in Nottingham don’t eat out on Sundays. Every single one was either shut for the day, or – bizarrely – shut just before suppertime. Who closes a restaurant at 5 p.m. or 6 p.m.? Vegetarians in Nottingham, that’s who.

So we turned back and went to Sparkhill to the same curry place that we always go to. It was terrible. Next time, I’ll go to a pub and ask for a salad.

Completely knackered, we arrived in Epworth at 10 p.m. to a cosy B&B called Wesley Guest House. Upon learning that I liked whisky, the proprietor – a lovely man named Lord Graham Wilson (I wasn’t sure if I should bow or pray to him) – poured us about 300 ml each of the finest Scotch he had. Gareth and I were now knackered and sloshed. Terry had a coffee, the clever #$%^@.

Epworth is a lovely and surprisingly bustling English town:

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The next morning we were off to Sandtoft, throbbing headaches and all. Sandtoft is the real reason for us coming to the UK. In fact, it’s probably the real reason we are making buses. I needed an excuse to write off a trolleybus driving experience as a “business expense,” and so I decided we should start a line of British buses.

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If you’ve never been to The Sandtoft Trolleybus Museum, I can’t recommend it highly enough. I discovered it soon after I became obsessed with classic British buses. One of the first books I picked up was The Colours of Yesterday’s Trolleybuses, and it remains one of my favourite British bus books. I soon discovered that if you like trolleybuses, you have to visit Sandtoft. So I booked myself a treat – driving a trolleybus for the day!

We first got an introduction to trolleybus technology and our bus for the day – Maidstone 72, a Sunbeam W4 built in 1947.

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Soon it was my turn. This seems to be how I regularly find myself these days – bum stuck out of a bus cab.

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Richard, my instructor, was very patient as I nearly toppled the bus over by going too fast around the first corner.

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Gareth was not so relaxed about it.

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When I was recovering from my harrowing first run, I sat in the top deck and noticed a very familiar shape on the side of the road…

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I’m telling you – I fly 5000 miles to the UK to go to a museum in the middle of nowhere, only to find a Canadian New Look bus.

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This is actually an Edmonton Transit trolleybus built around 1981 by Brown, Boveri and Company using a GM “New Look” bus body and chassis. It later ran in Toronto, where I rode it on the Annette 4 route. I look forward to seeing someone bash this out of our North American New Look, which has the exact same body.

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There were only two other drivers on the course, so we got to drive the bus a LOT.

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To be honest, I enjoyed “playing conductor” as much as I enjoyed driving. It was great fun to hang on the back as my co-driver barrelled around the curves. Also, I don’t have an “inside voice” so calling out for people to “HOLD TIGHT PLEASE” comes very naturally. Unfortunately I sent one of the instructors to the hospital with a burst eardrum.

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It really is a wonderful place, with trolleybuses everywhere – such as the parked Bournemouth trolleybus I’m passing in this photo:

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If you want to drive a trolleybus, I advise you book as early as possible. By the time I booked back in January a lot of the dates were sold out. If you just want to visit, Sandtoft has their biggest event of the year in a couple of weeks. The annual Sandtoft Gathering is on Sunday 30 July. It’s worth the trip to Lincolnshire…

Today we went to Rails of Sheffield…. but Chris Leigh is sitting across from me so I’d better go.

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I’ll tell all about the (extremely painful) visit to Rails in the next instalment. I say painful because I kept falling down the stairs.

Best regards,

Jason

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