Buses line up after two-year delay

By Connor Steel / Photograph by Aisling Steel

WHEN you wait two years to see an old bus, 50 turn up at once!

The Provincial Society Bus Rally returned to Stokes Bay this weekend following last year’s cancellation, seeing hundreds of visitors and vehicle lovers attend the six-hour event celebrating local history of the famous four wheeled transport in-between the downpours.

And there was no need to buy a ticket or present a bus pass!

Over 50 buses dating from the 1950s to present day were made available, including those from First lined up on the field for visitors to explore and find out more about this popular form of public transport. Free entry was given to this annual event with no IDs or pass required although donations could be given to the Society if preferred. The biggest name at the event was the London Transport, who provided at least three brilliant buses for charity as people began to show interest in the history of UK travel.

Entertainment included trips alongside the harbour towards the Alverbank Hotel and parts of the coastline area of Gosport starting at the Bus Station in the town centre, whilst attractions and stalls were available for visitors to explore whilst stepping abroad the many buses and limited forms of transport from the recent generations of history. There was also children’s entertainment throughout the day and visitors were able to ask present volunteers about their connection with each bus, with many conversations about certain travel journeys rumbling in the air on a mixed day (weather-wise).

If Gosport residents were travelling around the town from 1:30pm, they may have seen a convoy of buses as it made a small tour around the area and wondered if they were imagining things. But they weren’t as half-an-hour journeys were regularly held through the day; which included major roads in Privett, Alverstoke & Grange prompting many to beat the drizzle and take photographs of the vehicles. All routes were pre-organised across main areas of Gosport in a minor attempt to boost footfall into the group’s first event since the lockdown sixteen months ago.

Even the stalls around the bus parking areas were linked to travel; with representatives of transport related community events in attendance. This included Hovercraft Museum, D&S Transport Photos & Models and the Stagecoach; alongside Heritage Open Days who were promoting similar historical interests for September 2021.

To comply with Covid-19 advice, social distancing and weather face-masks were recommended to all visitors; whilst a limited number of persons were allowed onto each vehicle at only one time. Hand-washing facilities were also available in a bid to keep people safe and ensured the event went ahead as planned this time around.

The Covid-secure measures didn’t seem to spoil the occasion, with ‘bus lover’s able to catch up with old friends and some even joined the Provincial Society after visiting on Sunday (August 1). The group do have a Facebook page available here: The Provincial Society | Facebook which has a range of old photographs of buses travelling in the ‘local’ boroughs through the past and present.

Other photographs can be found by visiting the website of The Provincial Society and save the date for the 2022 event when confirmed. Alternatively interested parties could buy an annual membership to the society which is offering great rewards for as little as £15 (single person / per adult) or £20 for a family; a five pound joining fee will be added upon purchase. If readers are interested they are asked to email the membership secretary on info@provincialsociety.org, with all support gratefully received as rallies continue around Hampshire before returning to Gosport next summer 2022.