2008 Bus Tour weekend:   
2-4 May 2008   

Reports on the events of 2-4 May 2008, and (at the bottom of the page) a caption competition.

As is the custom these days, more pictures are available on Paul Hollinghurst's website - click here.

   Friday 2 May 2008

Last visited by LUPTS on 19 November 1980, Birkenhead North emu depot was well overdue a visit.   The LUPTS party met up at Birkenhead North station (the webmaster being relieved to find that his car was still outside, having been parked there at 07:45 in the morning) and made its way round the corner to the depot entrance.   Once signed in (don't remember having to do that in 1980), the party was split into two groups for the tour round.   Just 507s and 508s, the latter still running as 4-car units on Southern Region at the time of our 1980 visit, but we didn't expect anything else.   Uniformity disturbed only by one unit in a special livery for Liverpool Capital of Culture - surprisingly tasteful in comparison with some of liveries around these days.


Line ups of 507s and 508s inside the shed at Birkenhead North. Photo: Charles Roberts/Online Transport Archive (CCR36416)

More 507s and 508s inside the shed at Birkenhead North. Photo: Charles Roberts/Online Transport Archive (CCR36419)

507033 is one of four Merseyrail Electrics units in a special livery to mark Liverpool being European Capital of Culture in 2008.   And very good it looks too, apart from the black and white chevrons on the doors. Photo: Charles Roberts/Online Transport Archive (CCR36423)

The LUPTS party poses alongside 507029, which was undergoing overhaul. Photo: Charles Roberts/Online Transport Archive (CCR36429)

  Saturday 3 May 2008

A report by Rob Marsh ... (with explanatory footnotes supplied by the Webmaster) ...

The omens were good: a tour to three new destinations was planned, Amerton near Stafford, the Ashby Canal and The Battlefield Line in Shackerstone. Apologies for the lack of bus interest to those so inclined. A fast bus had been arranged with coach seats and not too tall (important for the route to be taken), a reasonable weather forecast and enough bookings to cover costs and hopefully make a small profit. What could possibly spoil our day?

A good start to the day with the Wirral contingent successfully picked up on time at The Swan in Prenton, by John Cherry in Helms of Eastham’s Leyland Olympian B201EFM (formerly of ChesterBus) and a good run to Liverpool enabled a prompt departure from outside the former Exchange station. Our last pick up at Oxford Street completed our complement of 38 passengers.

Out of sight behind the outer tyre, the deflated nearside rear inner which caused us problems at the beginning of the day.   Photo: Rob Marsh

We left Oxford Street slightly early and all was looking good. In fact we had a clear run to the M62 and we were off on the open road ahead of time … Great! I hoped that we wouldn’t arrive too early at Amerton, before they were ready for us.

I needn’t have worried. We had only been on the M62 for a short time when we became concerned about the bus. Our driver quickly surmised a possible puncture and that we would come off the motorway to check. Having left the M62 at Rainhill Stoops a quick check of the vehicle, confirmed our worst fears. All was not well with the inner rear nearside tyre. A replacement bus would be required!!

We headed towards John Cherry’s other depot in Maghull, used mainly as the base for Aintree Coachline. A replacement vehicle was to come from there to meet us at Junction 6 on the M57 to take over for the day. After what seemed like an eternity, a Volvo Olympian N415JBV arrived to take us forward. We rejoined the M62 now a full hour and a half behind schedule.

The schedule was changed and an additional stop included at Burtonwood Services for those on the tour who had not availed themselves of the bushes near the M57. Then we headed onto the M6. Frantic phone calls to Amerton where three more tour participants were joining us and they were able to keep our friends at Amerton updated as to our anticipated arrival time of 11:45 rather than 10:15.


A LUPTS first - a bus tour bus fails to complete the tour.   In fact Helms of Eastham's ex-Chester Olympian 1 (B201EFM) only got as far as the outskirts of Liverpool before it developed a puncture.   Gingerly, John Cherry drove it to junction 6 of the M57 where a rendezvous was planned.   Photo: Rob Marsh

Our time at Amerton was cut short by 15 minutes to 45 minutes. On arrival the volunteers greeted us. A steam loco – 0-4-0T ‘Emmet’ a modern replica built on an older diesel chassis – waited in the station at the head of our train. We quickly boarded for a trip around the loop through the fields and amongst the lambs. On return to the station Laurence still managed to show us around the shed, even though by now they were open to the public and were trying to accommodate the general public as well as us. Those that wanted had a second trip, whilst others had a quick look around the other attractions that Amerton Farm & Craft Centre had to offer. One advantage of arriving late was that we were steam hauled by ‘Emmet’ rather than the expected diesel ‘Dreadnought’.

Arrival at Amerton Farm near Stafford was an hour and half late, but this had the bonus of allowing time for the steam loco to warm up and be used for the LUPTS party, rather than us using the diesel engine we'd been expecting. Photo: Charles Roberts/Online Transport Archive (CCR36450)

Activity inside the shed at the Amerton Railway. Photo: Charles Roberts/Online Transport Archive (CCR36455)

Fine with the ex-Chester vehicle but not with its replacement.   A diversion was necessary in Lichfield. Photo: Charles Roberts/Online Transport Archive (CCR36461)

We made a prompt departure at 12:30 and headed off towards Lichfield by way of the A51. More frantic phone calling ahead to speak to the people at Ashby Trip to advise of our delayed arrival. Some new roads and bypasses helped us to make good time on the road to Lichfield. Our route took us straight through Lichfield, and fortunately with local knowledge we were able to avoid the low bridge under the cross-city line at Lichfield City station. We headed south out of Lichfield towards the A5, and onto a further stretch of new road where we made good progress through Tamworth and by passed Atherstone. We left the A5 to join A444 to Fenny Drayton and then along the country lanes to Sutton Cheney Wharf, where Sue from Ashby Trip was waiting for us.

The Ashby Trip Company quickly boarded us onto the 72ft ‘Bosworth Lady’ for our leisurely cruise along the Ashby canal in the direction of Shenton. Some of the group enjoyed drinks and snacks as we ambled northwards along the Ashby. We winded [see footnote 1] near Shenton aqueduct in a somewhat protracted manoeuvre, put down to various reasons including comment on a slight breeze and the weight of the boat. Apparently the boat was sitting far lower in the water than the previous day with a party who had an extra 16 on board!!

The LUPTS party boards 'Bosworth Lady' at Sutton Chaney Wharf on the Ashby Canal. Photo: Charles Roberts/Online Transport Archive (CCR36466)

Aboard 'Bosworth Lady' for a reduced length voyage along the canal to allow us to catch up some of the time we'd lost. Photo: Charles Roberts/Online Transport Archive (CCR36470)

In the great tradition of LUPTS walks, the party stroll down the lane in Shenton connecting the canal with the Battlefield Line.  (Coincidentally it was almost exactly 10 years to the day that Dave Forrest's Routemaster failed to get up the hill at Whatstandwell, necessitating the party walking alongside the bus.) Photo: Paul Hollinghurst

Our return was curtailed near a bridge near Shenton to enable us to walk to the train on the Battlefield Line, to catch the now delayed 14:50 train, which was being held for our arrival. I think some enjoyed the walk more than others, so my apologies to those who were not expecting the walk especially with your organiser herding you along from the rear! At least when we got to the train we had reserved seats and near to the griddle car too. Many of us were ready for a pint by then (the tour organiser certainly was!) and what better than a pint of “LUPTS STEAM ALE”, kindly arranged for us by Sam at the Battlefield Line. For those beer anoraks that like to know what they have been drinking it was in fact Goats Milk Bitter (3.8%) brewed by the nearby Church End Brewery in Atherstone.

Consumption of LUPTS Steam Ale aboard a train on the Battlefield Line.  Photo: Jonathan Cadwallader

David Fraser Gomer Richards.  That's "Sir Gomer" to you.  Photo: Rob Marsh

'Sir Gomer' hauled the last train of the day back to Shenton with the LUPTS party aboard and the railway staff kindly attached the headboard while the loco ran round before working back to Shackerstone. Photo: Charles Roberts/Online Transport Archive (CCR36498)

The Battlefield Line held a train for us and we travelled from Shenton to Shackerstone, where an Aveling and Porter rail traction engine thingy (technical term) was trundling up and down the platform in steam. Photo: Jonathan Cadwallader

After a ride up the line, the party split up. Whilst some enjoyed a couple of round trips on the line, the others explored Shackerstone with guided tours of the steam shed where it was possible to see B1 Mayflower undergoing repairs and the diesel collection where there was a good collection of real monsters [see footnote 2]. Some may have had time to see the incredible display in the museum, whilst other made use of the old fashioned tearoom. A final trip down the line followed along with another excellent pint and a bacon and egg barm for the organiser!!

Newly repainted in Rail Blue, 47640 proudly displays the LUPTS headboard. Photo: Paul Hollinghurst   [Presumably what the tour author had in mind with his reference to "real monsters", Ed.]

The group photograph - trying to be as inclusive as possible and include even those who were a bit reluctant to appear. Photo: Charles Roberts/Online Transport Archive (CCR36502)

Back on the bus at Shenton after our group photo, and then off to Lichfield for a food (and beer?) stop before heading back up to Liverpool where we arrived later than planned at 21:10 for a drink in the rather busy and noisy Ship and Mitre. (Shame we hadn’t booked the upstairs room, eh Charles?)   [Better than last year, when we booked the room at the Pig and Whistle though, Ed.]

My thanks to everyone involved in the day, especially to Laurence Hodgkinson and volunteers at Amerton, Sue at Ashby Trip with her staff, and Sam Wilkinson and all at the Battlefield line, all of whom were extremely flexible and accommodating to help us make the most of our visits in spite of the previous problems with the bus. Thanks also to John Cherry for providing a replacement the bus; I suppose we should be grateful that the puncture did not happen in the middle of nowhere! My thanks also to mobile phone manufacturers and network providers, without whose help I would not have been able to reschedule the day!

But most of all, thank you all for coming and making the best of the day! I hope you enjoyed it in the end.

Watch out for next year, there will be another bus tour, but a different organiser. Had anyone realised that this was the eighth successive tour with a different organiser? Maybe if you can extend the run of different organisers and have somewhere you would like to go then maybe you will volunteer!

Footnote 1: "'To wind' is to turn a canal boat around.   Usually done at a winding hole.   Once completed you have 'winded'." [email from Rob Marsh to the Webmaster, 26 May 2008]

Footnote 2: "If you prefer you could substitute 'beasts' for monsters." [email from Rob Marsh to the Webmaster (who professes to be none the wiser), 27 May 2008]

  Sunday 4 May 2008

12 people gathered for Sunday lunch at The Wiggin Tree on Parbold Hill.   Some regulars were missing, preferring to attend a meaningless, end-of-season, mid-table football match at Anfield.   Then to the British Commercial Vehicle Museum in Leyland and the end of another successful LUPTS weekend.   Anticipation already mounts over the 50th anniversary gathering (4/5 October 2008) and next year's bus tour weekend (1-3 May 2009).


Ex-Ribble Tiger Cub 963 had some of the LUPTS party drooling. Photo: Charles Roberts/Online Transport Archive (CCR36526)

The end of another LUPTS weekend. Photo: Charles Roberts/Online Transport Archive (CCR36553)

  The ever-popular (sic) caption competition

Further suggestions to webmaster@lupts.org.uk   Surely you can do much better.

Photo: Chris Knowles

I do it this way because you can drink and talk at the same time.
AM-R, Nottingham

If this is LUPTS Steam Beer then they ought to adjust the valve settings.
AM-R, Nottingham

I seem to remember that it used to go into my mouth rather than down my ear.
JC, Crosby

[Also various other entries with permutations on the words 'doctor', 'mistake' and 'orifice', which we'd either better not repeat here, or forward to the general Medical Council. ] 


Photo: Chris Knowles

I thought you said 'There's your big mouse again'.
AM-R, Nottingham

... and then he started standing on the furniture and claiming that he was about to lay an egg...
JC, Crosby


Slight misunderstanding over the phrase 'Chairman of Leyland'.
CCR, Upton

Photo: Paul Hollinghurst
Well, I was just standing there talking about cider when someone shot Keith with two arrows.
JC, Crosby

Jonathan's first attempt at selling cider out of the boot fails when it's pointed out the bottles should be full.
CCR, Upton 

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Last updated: 09 March 2009

© Charles Roberts/LUPTS 2008