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The Thames Valley & Great Western Omnibus Trust has launched an Appeal to raise funds to carry out major repairs and improvements to its newly acquired Thames Valley 1927 Tilling-Stevens B9A Express No. 152, registered MO 9324.
The Thames Valley & Great Western Omnibus Trust acquired No. 152 from the Southdown Omnibus Trust in May 2017. The significance of this vehicle cannot be overstated as it is the oldest surviving Thames Valley Traction Company vehicle and has been the subject of a major restoration project led by lifelong Thames Valley enthusiast and expert, Michael Plunkett. Click here to read more about the history of 152.
152 had been on loan to TV&GWOT since March 2015 when it was collected from deep storage in Sussex, where it had been laid up for a period of almost nine years. It was transported to our workshops for preparation for our TV100 event, on 2nd August 2015, celebrating the centenary of the start of motor bus operations in the Thames Valley where 152 was a major attraction.
Prior to this our volunteers spent the Spring and early Summer carrying out a full mechanical overhaul, repainting of the chassis, wings, underside of the body and roof and many other tasks. Further work has continued whilst 152 has been maintained for use by TV&GWOT attending events at Fawley Hill, Didcot, Reading and HCVS London to Brighton Runs in both 2016 and 2017.
Although 152 is now in very presentable condition there are two major items which must be addressed for its long term reliable use for the Trust’s objectives:
1. 152’s use is limited to daylight hours as there is no dynamo or voltage regulation system for charging the battery and powering the lights. The battery is used for starting so frequent recharging is necessary. We are sourcing the parts to install a full electrical system and have the services of an expert auto-electrician who has previously carried out a similar installation for our GWR Guy.
2. The gearbox is badly worn and makes horrendous noises in all but top gear. This has been diagnosed as originating from worn lay shaft bearings/bearing sockets which have allowed the lay shaft to run out of parallel to the main shaft leading to wear of the lower gears. New gears will have to be cut and the gearbox casing will require machining and installation of sockets to house the layshaft bearings.
In addition there are several smaller items involving outside suppliers. Our appeal target is £20,000 which we estimate should be sufficient to cover these items and the ongoing support of 152 in TV&GWOT ownership for the next three years.
Please consider contributing to this important work. Support can be one-off or by making regular monthly payments. Standing Order forms for donations, which may benefit from Gift Aid, are available in Word or pdf formats.
TV&GWOT is committed to holding 152 in the charitable trust in perpetuity, ensuring that it will be kept in the Thames Valley and available for public heritage events. This will give a major boost to the Trust in furthering its charitable objectives and increasing access to the historic vehicles which provide the experience of bygone travel.
TV&GWOT Chairman, Colin Billington, in announcing the appeal said “The Trust is widely known for its thorough and authentic restorations as well as its organisation of heritage events in both the Thames Valley and the West Country where these restored vehicles are made available for the public to ride upon. Having taken over ownership of 152 earlier this year we want to be able to use it on the road with confidence for many years to come. Prior to coming into our collection it was rarely used on the public highway and travelled a very limited mileage. The work now proposed, which will be made possible through this new appeal, will enable us to take 152 to events throughout the Thames Valley bringing the sights, sounds and travelling experience on this 90 year old vehicle to people of all generations.”
152 (registered MO9324) was one of a batch of 14 Tilling Stevens B9A Express single deck buses with 35 seat rear entrance Brush bodies delivered to the Thames Valley Traction Company in May and June 1927, 152 arriving in June and being allocated to High Wycombe where it was based until the mid-1930s having had its seating capacity reduced to 32 in 1931. 152 then worked from Reading and Maidenhead where it was recorded in late 1939 when war broke out.
The off-white upper parts of 152, along with other TVT vehicles, were painted brown and later grey as camouflage against aerial attack. In October 1939 the Great Western Railway moved its headquarters functions out from London to West Berkshire and entered into a contract with TVT to transport its staff between Aldermaston Station and offices in a country house at nearby Wasing for which six Tilling-Stevens B9As were used including 152. This went on for the duration of the war. All the B9As were withdrawn by December 1945 after almost 19 years in service – testament to their rugged reliability.152 was the last to be sold, in February 1946, to a Mr D. Smith, a showman, of Alton, Hants for use as a static caravan and store shed where it remained until being removed in about 1971 for preservation by a group from Hindhead. It passed to Michael Plunkett after being advertised through the Historic Commercial Vehicle Club in 1972. Michael then embarked on a major restoration project to return 152 to early 1930s’ condition. It was moved to Amberley Chalk Pits Museum by September 1985 where the timber construction skills of a traditional boat restorer assisted Michael in a faithful reconstruction of the original body. 152 was used at Amberley to give rides to museum visitors. It was stored off-site in Sussex until placed on loan to TV&GWOT, initially for the TV100 event in 2015. Click here to continue reading…
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Company Registered in England No. 5035702. Registered Charity No. 1125980