Looking Back – Adrian Wickens, guest blogger
As I am now an old timer, I thought it would be a good idea to visit Showbus for the first time this year, albeit as a passenger aboard a brand-new Volvo B8RLE with an MCV body. I had previously prepared myself by going to the Gaydon event. Both added to a list of events for me this summer, including two days of Test Matches and a One-Day International against Australia, Tennis at Hurlingham, the Red Bull Air Race at Ascot and a Royal Shakespeare Company event in a lovely garden in Stratford-upon-Avon, where the weather has been perfect!
Of course, as soon as we got to Showbus, luckily without too much hold up, I rushed off and left the new vehicles behind in order to wallow in nostalgia, photographing everything – and Iet me take this opportunity to apologise to everyone whose photos I feature in!
It was an absolute pleasure to see so many old Leyland buses, albeit tinged with some sadness at how it all unravelled from a peak in 1980 when Leyland was still the largest bus manufacturer in Western Europe.
The Leyland Nationals caught my eye of course, having spent a lot of time in the Lillyhall plant, even if sometimes it was a matter of enjoying the view across the Solway Firth as a distraction from the frustrations of what we were there for! I know the product had its share of problems (maybe more so) but as I started in body engineering, I must admit I still admire the structure of the bodyshell and the durability of the powder coating process that occupied such a large part of the site. It reminds me of the Renault R312 which I also saw in production in its pomp.
I must also mention the Titan that appeared at Showbus. I bear many mental scars from the upheavals of the 1980’s but the Titan gave me a physical scar when I hit my head on one while working in a pit at Park Royal Vehicles. I still think it is a brilliant vehicle, in which case you might wonder how I could have lasted so long in the industry!!
I must also thank the volunteers who make Showbus happen. This year was especially trying for all concerned but after organising many exhibitions myself, I sympathise!!
This week’s guest blogger is Adrian Wickens, who is retires this week after 42 years with Leyland Bus and Volvo Bus.