Inspiring Showbus

Though moved to a new and well-liked venue, this year’s Showbus gathering was followed by the rain. It held off long enough for David Cole to tour the vehicles

After three years in the East Midlands, Showbus returned to the Home Counties for its 47th edition. The location, the Hertfordshire Showground, proved an inspired choice given the UK’s recent weather history. The gently-sloping site is well drained and most of the grassed areas were quite firm underfoot or wheel with plenty of access to a maze of hard surfaced tracks.

With a forecast of heavy rain all day, some vehicle entries did withdraw at short notice but there was still a vast array of vehicles to study and admire during the unexpectedly long, dry and even sunny spells during the day. Exhibits almost spanned a century of development, from the Todmorden Leyland and London S type of 1921 to today’s alternative fuelled vehicles represented by a Nottingham Scania ADL Enviro 400CBG, a Metroline Optare Metrodecker ev and the Westway Yutong TCe12 coach recently tested by Bus and Coach Buyer. Riding the latter on the frequent shuttle from Showbus to nearby ZSL Whipsnade Zoo emphasised the positive impression gained from that road test, acceleration and smoothness of ride being particularly impressive. It was also interesting to watch peoples’ reactions as a large vehicle passed by so quietly.

Many of the entries put themselves forward for judging in a variety of classes and there was considerable anticipation as Showbus founder Dr Martin Isles announced the winning entries. The best modern vehicle overall was the ADL Enviro 200 in Midland Red retro livery entered by Stagecoach with the other modern vehicle awards going to The Delaine (double-deck – Volvo Wright) and Elgar Coaches (coach – Setra S416GT HD). The top heritage trophy, the Shillibeer Award, went to Mike Sutcliffe’s 1932 Todmorden Northern Counties bodied Leyland Tiger while Cozy Coaches lifted the Premier Operator award for their fleet display.

Showbus will return to the Hertfordshire Showground on 27 September 2020.

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