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Vintage Winchester bus back where it belongs
James Freeman, left, Mayor of Winchester Frank Pearson, Canon Precentor of Winchestor Cathedral, Michael St-John Channell,and the Friends of King alfred Buses.
AFTER 22 years of painstaking restoration, a rather special bus rolled back into Winchester on Saturday (October 20).
The Canon Precentor of Winchester Cathedral, Michael St-John Channell, blessed the newly-restored 1950 Leyland Olympic before it set off on its inaugural journey, a round trip from the Broadway to Battery Hill and Stanmore.
The bus was restored by the Friends of King Alfred Buses (FoKAB), a group of enthusiasts who hunt down and restore the vehicles that once made up King Alfred Motor Services’ fleet.
The company provided local bus services in the city from 1922 until it was taken over in 1973.
Also on hand was Mayor of Winchester Frank Pearson, who took particular interest, having once driven a bus himself. The Mayor said: “I do remember these buses the first time round, and yes, it brought back some memories. I used to drive a bus myself – a Bedford coach. I believe they’re going to restore one of those too and I’m looking forward to that.”
Around 70 guests attended a reception, including special guest Robert Chisnell, grandson of Robert Chisnell, who founded King Alfred Motor Services. Mr Chisnell said: “There’s definitely an emotional attachment for me. Myself and my cousin, Richard Chisnell, have just been invited to be presidents of the society, which is an honour and should come into effect in December.”
Passengers on the day were in the capable hands of 80-year-old conductor David Shawyer, who joined King Alfred Motor Services in 1956.
At the reception in Winchester’s St John’s Rooms, FoKAB chairman James Freeman said: “The bus looks old now but when it first arrived in Winchester it was the very first of its type here.
“This project is important because it (King Alfred Motor Services) was a very significant part of Winchester’s history,” he said.
FoKAB has now collected all 14 remaining King Alfred buses. The Leyland Olympic was located in a field in Ireland and brought back to Winchester by boat, but buses have been found as far afield as the Unites States.