ROYAL BLUE LONG-DISTANCE COACH RUN – Friday 16 June to Sunday 18 June 2023


The Royal Blue & Associated Motorways long-distance coach runs recreate the experience of bygone travel not just for the crews and their passengers but for bystanders too, whether out with the intention of seeing the coaches or surprised by the unexpected spectacle.

Heads turn particularly when coaches return to the West Country, whether passengers taking in the stunning scenery or locals recalling the familiar sight of Royal Blue bringing coach-loads of eager holiday-makers.  Such West Country Delights were at the heart of the TV&GWOT event for 2023 (from Friday 16 to Sunday 18 June).  By popular request, coaches assembled at the capacious Salisbury coach station turning out onto the open roads through Wiltshire, Somerset, Devon and Cornwall reaching Penzance inthe far south west .before returning to Salisbury via Dorset.

Importantly the specific routes were drawn from Royal Blue timetables from different eras, sometimes segments of express services are followed or in other cases seasonal variants are used (e.g. summer Saturdays only or winter season routing).  Every stretch had to be pre-driven to ensure the original roads remain suitable for coaches to pass even with modern parking practices or traffic management schemes.

The route from Salisbury is outlined in the map below.

Day 1 of the Royal Blue & Associated Motorways Run began with a mass departure from Salisbury Coach Station recreating the typical mid 20th Century scene with coaches setting out for Exeter on the route used by non-stop Royal Blue services to the south west, and the diversion adopted on summer Saturdays to avoid Honiton.  The run continued from Exeter on the route to Mevagissey, as far as Liskeard.

Day 2 continued the Mevagissey service route from Liskeard as far as St Austell, and then the route to Truro (particularly used in the winter season), continuing on via Redruth and Camborne to Penzance. The run continued to Porthleven, to then follow the first part of route to Minehead, as far as Wadebridge.

Day 3 continued the Minehead service as far as Bude, and then taking an earlier route to Exeter via Hatherleigh and Crediton.  The final stage runs up the A30, as used by the ‘stopping’ Penzance to London services, to Salisbury.




Re-live the 3-day tour completed by 15 vintage coaches, taking in Wiltshire, Somerset, Dorset, Devon and Cornwall. Climb aboard Royal Blue 1250 (dating from 1951) to sample the ride.
There is further ‘live’ coverage on Facebook and contemporaneous updates on Twitter (@HeritageBuses).



Royal Blue Run 2023 v.4 – route outline. [Google Maps]




Coaches to which participated in some or all of the Royal Blue Run 2023 are illustrated below, also demonstrating the evolution of coach design and the range of scenery experienced along the way:


1947 vintage Wilts & Dorset Beadle-bodied Bristol L6B, 279 (EMW284), traverses Dartmoor.

© Chris Drew


1948 Burlingham-bodied AEC Regal CFK340 in a newly applied striking black & white livery passes through Fontwell Bishop on Day 1.

© Chris Drew

1949 Whitson-bodied Leyland PS2, FNV557 from ‘another’ Royal Blue Coach Services, runs along the estuary to Seaton.

© Chris Drew

1950 ECW-bodied Bristol L6B NAE3 operated by Bristol Tramways / Greyhound on Dartmoor.

© Chris Drew

1951 Duple-bodied Bristol LL6B, Royal Blue 1250 (LTA729), climbs towards Two Bridges from Moretonhampstead.

© Chris Drew

1952 ECW-bodied Bristol LS6G, Royal Blue 1286 (MOD973) now in the TV&GWOT fleet, returns to Exeter via Cowley Bridge.

© Kevin Cripps

1960 Weymann-bodied AEC Reliance, Potteries Motor Traction SL805 (805EVT), heads into Cornwall on Day 2.

© Chris Drew

1961 ECW-bodied Bristol MW6G, Royal Blue 2267 (56GUO), wends its way over Dartmoor with 1286 behind.

© Chris Drew

1962 ECW-bodied Bristol SUL4A Western National 424 (274KTA), passes through Hatherleigh on Day 3.

© Kevin Cripps

1969 ECW-bodied Bristol RELH, Crosville CRG106 (AFM106G), travelled to and from Cheshire to join the run – seen here near Two Bridges on Dartmoor. 

© Kevin Cripps

1969 ECW-bodied Bristol RELH, Royal Blue (Western National) 1460 (OTA632G), leaves Penzance.

© Chris Drew

1973 Marshall-bodied Bristol LH, Royal Blue (Western National) 1318 (BDV318L), en route through Marazion.

© Helen Billington

1979 Plaxton Supreme-bodied Bristol LH6L Western National 3307 (AFJ727T), at Chard.

© Chris Drew

1982 Plaxton Supreme V-bodied Volvo B10M BKO447Y operated by Scotland and Bates, passes through Camelford.

© Chris Drew

2000 Plaxton Premiere-bodied Volvo B10M Mk4, Wallace Arnold 656 (W656FUM), at Basset’s Cross.

© Chris Drew




The Royal Blue Run was sustained by lunchtime hosts en route.  Thanks go to:

Seaton Tramway for lunch boxes and a return excursion by tram to Colyton along the stunning Axe valley.


© Seaton Tramway

The Beach Box for Cornish Pasties in view of St Michael’s Mount and coach parking with St Aubyn Estates.


© Helen Billington

BFK (the Beer Factory Kitchen) at Hanlon’s Brewery near Newton St Cyres for sumptuous fare from the smokehouse.


© Peter Delaney

  The purpose of the Royal Blue & Associated Motorways runs is to showcase these fine coaches in authentic settings offering an opportunity for the public and photographers across the country to enjoy the bygone scene.

Video Highlights from the 2023 Royal Blue Run (above) give a flavour with further insight from the 2021 highlights below:





Information about previous events can be found here

You can take a virtual trip on our 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017 runs on our Blog and our Facebook page has video coverage from the 2018 and subsequent runs.



Our Royal Blue Runs were established in 2002 so that owners and their passengers can relive the pleasures of long distance luxury coach travel for which their carefully preserved vehicles were originally intended. The aim is to follow original Royal Blue routes as closely as possible and to travel at a leisurely pace redolent of the times. The runs also create a wonderful spectacle for innocent bystanders and dedicated photographers alike, thanks to the hard work and resources the owners have devoted to restoring and maintaining their fine coaches.

A lot of work goes into planning the runs from selecting routes from the extensive Royal Blue network and researching the original drivers’ instructions and passenger timetables, preparing maps and outline routing, driving the routes to develop detailed instructions allowing for modern day features and constraints, organising refreshment stops, obtaining parking permissions, to identifying potential accommodation for a dozen or more coaches and their passengers. Despite all the preparations, final timings are hard to judge whether due to roadworks or things that might pique the interest of crews along the way. The coaches do not travel in close convoy so as not to inconvenience other road users. Some drivers have also been known on occasion to deviate from the intended route (unintentionally!).

Overall the focus is on education and enjoyment and we hope that however you take part you share in the pleasure.

From the earliest days of Elliott Brothers’ Royal Blue luxury services, coaches frequented Cheddar Gorge

as this c. 1928 photograph recording a visit to

Gough’s Caves shows.

Part of the authentic re-creation of TV&GWOT’s

Royal Blue Runs saw 1951-vintage Bristol LL6B

(Fleet No. 1250) descending Cheddar Gorge in 2012.

© Colin Billington


Spectacular scenery on the 2018 Royal Blue Run with MW6G 253KTA (2270) on of the 12 participating coaches © Chris Drew




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Company Registered in England No. 5035702.  Registered Charity No. 1125980