A red VR (in W&D privatisation livery) with Hants & Dorset (Damory) legals.
This livery sits well on the VR
Yesterday’s Wilts & Dorset Bristol finale went off very well, with a permutation of any two of three VRs providing tenuous service duplicates for a healthy group of gathered enthusiasts. I say “tenuous” as my interpretation of the traffic commissioners’ understanding of “duplicate” perhaps differs from W&D’s. As there was a tacho in at least one of the three, perhaps the £7.50 charge was actually for a private hire.
Each of the three was in pretty good condition following their 1997 initial refurb, with 1979 vintage 3(4)413 recently externally refurbished (again) for retention as a special events heritage vehicle. Each could maintain a good turn of speed, too. There was a report of a lady driver at Amesbury who asked if she could swap her turn on the Salisbury-bound Activ8 and take a VR instead. Perhaps she just wanted to avoid the hassle of taking fares. More likely she felt just a little nostalgic at finally bidding farewell to a bus that’s been at the heart of service to the people of Dorset, Hampshire & Wiltshire.
It’s the little things I shall remember about the VR. The domed roof. The penetrating cold during winter mornings. The high-pitched trill and clatter as the passenger door closed. The ‘Bristol’ gearbox whine. The upstairs front seating arrangement. The seemingly unavoidable clunk as the driver selected reverse gear. The visored cab warning light housing. The rotary trafficator switch redolent of earlier generation Bristols. The Self-Changing Gears shift assembly. The early non-black window rubbers…
Meanwhile, with the first W&D Spectra already withdrawn owing to what is understood to be flooring problems, it’s unlikely that they will reach 28 years of continuous service… unlike the VRT last used in anger in 2008.
With thanks to the organisers of yesterday’s VR retirement event.