The NWVRT have held an annual depot/running day either towards the end of May or the beginning of June, these events have grown over the years. To a point where it has become an established fixture on the annual events calendar. For the 2016 event, which fell on Sunday 5th June, to was going to be another blockbuster of a show.
Your author set of from home, in Yorkshire around 06:45, allowing time to get fuel and money, before getting on to the M621 and M62 motorways. The weather in Yorkshire on June 5th was very dull and overcast, with thickening cloud as the highest point of the M62 arrived. Mind you at this point the fog was that thick, you could not see the summit sign!
As the motorway started to edge towards Manchester the sky's cleared and the sun shone, as the temperature also rose. Passing along the M60 ring road, the junction for the A580 East Lancashire Road to St. Helens was soon upon me. Here the motorway gave way to the now complete new look A580, with its bus lanes and new traffic lights, which there are to many sets, set on a new smoother road surface. After around another hours travelling the turning for the Knowsley Industrial estate was already for the right hand turn.
By 08:45 the car was parked up and the camera was out ready to start my day and record the initial movements of the buses arriving and getting ready to run in service. It was not long before the first bus arrived, the immaculately restored NBC Northern General MCW Metrobus MKII 3501 UTN501Y, which sparkled in the sun light. This was followed by a former Travel West Midlands MKII MCW Metrobus 2989 E989VUK in full Wolverhampton Corporation livery, which looked very smart.
The West Yorkshire PTE Foden/NC 7250 TUB250R was quickly out of the NWVRT yard and parked up ready to do at least one run on the 93 Industrial estate run, other buses in the departure row were Merseybus 0238 F238YTJ an Alexander bodied Leyland Olympian, Merseyside PTE 1301 DKC301L a 1972 Leyland Atlantean AN68 and AEC Routemaster RM1620 DYE620. The arrivals continued with two Stagecoach ADL products both of which were on 16 plates, E40DMMC 10536 SN16ONA new to the Merseyside fleet and brand new SN16OPD for the Chester Park & Ride fleet, which replaces the former First group Wrights bodied Volvo B7RLEs. Birkenhead number 10 FGB910 a Massey bodied Leyland Titan PD1, arrived ready to do some shifts on the free bus services.
The NWVRT base was opened for business around 09:30 as the people mingled around to see what was new and other vehicles on display in the yard. With programme purchased and a look at the timetable allocations, it was off for a quick look around the stalls, catching up with friends and chatting to others. With the day set to be a belter, weather wise as well, it was time to par-take in a bacon butty, supplied by Pat's Cafe a recommended established eating place, worth a visit. Two examples of the once mighty Crosville Motors then arrived in the shape of classic Bristol/ECW KG150 LFM731 and SNL816 WFM816L the series 1 integral Leyland National. Both were quickly followed by the first outing in many years of the other preserved Foden/NC, West Midlands PTE 6300 ROC300R, which one of seven Foden rear engine chassis built. The bus had passed its MOT and was ready for a few finishing touches. There is a more detail account of the Foden/NC elsewhere in this Rallies & special events blog page. The Foden/NC never really ventured beyond the prototype stage, but had it been able too who knows what would have happened.
There then followed a Dennis Lance with Northern Counties body from the Aintree Coaches fleet, and another London Transport Routemaster RM40 VTL40. Then a rather unique Leyland National arrived WHH556S, which was Leyland Motors REV 01 the test bed National for cooling, heating systems and other internal fixtures and fittings. This bus was originally a dual door vehicle, it was acquired by the Workington Heritage Trust, who ran the bus in the colours of former owner Barry Pickhall, Arlecdon in Cumbria. The National made its return into the original livery in 2016 at the Stagecoach Morecambe depot open day. In the NWVRT yard were the Preston Panther 204 HCK204G, St. Helens liveried AEC Swift, a Marshall bodied Dart, Merseyside PTE National series 1 1000, Two Crosville VRTs, Merseybus MCW Metrobus MKI, various Atlanteans and a former SYPTE Leyland National2 1075. Inside the NWVRT base were Stalls, tombola and a light refreshment stand, with a former United Leyland Lynx II as a membership enrollment vehicle. While out side there were more arrivals in the shape of the Midland Red BET Marshall bodied Leyland Leopard, preserved Ribble 1397 Park Royal bodied Leyland Atlantean, with two vehicles from the Merseyside Transport Trust (MTT), 1053 the MCW bodied Leyland Panther and 1836 the East Lancashire bodied Leyland Atlantean. Whilst all this was happening RM 1620 and Merseyside PTE 1032 were being used on the 96 Kirkby service. While maroon Merseybus liveried Atlantean 1301 was having a run round the block for another trip out, as the WYPTE Foden was being used on the 11:42 93 Industrial estate service. After catching up with Craig and indulging in a spot of lunch, I then joined to fellow Flickr members Barry and Alan for some shots of buses leaving Charleywood Road. After taking some shots of visiting SELNEC Society buses 5001 GBU1V the first MCW Metrobus in the GMPTE fleet and open top Park Royal bodied Atlantean 7077, in company with a Warrington Midi Lines Carlyle bodied Dennis Dart and Chesterfield 124 the Roe bodied Daimler Fleetline, in the car park next door to Pat's Café.
Above is the preserved former Stagecoach Volvo B10BLE Wrights Renown 21116, it was launched at 12:30 along with Merseybus Volvo B10B Wrights 6592, 248 a St. Helens/Merseyside PTE Marshall bodied AEC Swift, Merseyside PTE 1039 an MCW bodied Leyland Panther, which I have not seen 1039 since the 2005 Trans-Lancs Heaton Park Rally and finally the WMPTE Foden/NC 6300. After the launch 6592 and 21116 were used on a special run to Kirkby to celebrate their maiden voyages in preservation. However upon return 21116 had developed a fault and was taken off the road, which was a shame, hopefully the problem can be fixed and 21116 will on the road again soon.
St' Helens/Merseyside PTE 248 was called into service on the 14:30 departure on the 90 Prescot service, the bus is seen above exiting Charleywood Road, with a good load of passengers. During the afternoon the WYPTE Foden 7250 did a couple more 93 estate circulars, along with Merseybus Leyland Titan 2122, Volvo Olympian 317 and Merseyside PTE Atlantean 1301. While GMPTE MCW Metrobus 5001, Merseybus/MTL North 0238, Isle Coaches N600ABC, Merseybus 6592 and MTTs Liverpool/MPTE Panther 1053 were used on the 96 Kirkby or 544 Liverpool service.
The NBC poppy red liveried vehicles Ribble 1397 and Northern General 3501 was both taken for a jaunt around the block and paused twice for a side by side photo shoot, which looked really nice in the pleasant sunshine.
By now it was after 16:00 and the Northern General MCW Metrobus was going to make her way home back to the North East. the Ribble Atlantean stayed a little longer. Your author likes to move around the area and finds the first junction with the petrol station a good place to photograph the departing buses. Here I was joined by fellow KBMT member Chris and later another gentleman. As the buses passed some on service while others like Warrington 71 and 218, National Express DAZ3294, Leyland National WHH556S, Birkenhead 10, Crosville KG150, DVL435 and DVG521, St. Helens Titan 54, WMPTE 2989 MCW Metrobus MKII, both Stagecoach ADL MMC vehicles and show sponsors People's Bus BMC Condor S80BUS. All were now departing the show as MPTE 248, RM40, NTL North 0317 and Merseybus 0238 ran on the final journeys of the day. After most of the visiting buses had departed your author returned to his car, before setting off back home to Yorkshire on what was a very warm and pleasant evening to drive. I have to say that the 5th annual NWVRT open was a real hit and everyone enjoyed it, a credit to all the NWVRT members and staff who make this event possible, well done to you all.