VDV134S – 1977 Bristol VRT

Bristol VRT 'Thomas Hardy' VDV 134S, preserved by North Somerset Coaches, climbs out of Sennen Cove whilst working service 1 Lands End-Penzance during the 'VR Revival' running day. 19/04/15

Bristol VRT ‘Thomas Hardy’ VDV 134S, preserved by North Somerset Coaches, climbs out of Sennen Cove whilst working service 1 Lands End-Penzance during the ‘VR Revival’ running day. 19/04/15

Year 1977
Chassis Bristol VRTSL3/6LXB
Body ECW Convertible open top
Engine Gardner 6LXB
Seats 74 Bus
Original Operator Western National
Joined our collection March 2013
Status Class 6 PSV MOT & available to hire

VDV134S was rescued from an outside storage compound in 2013, and after 6 years in the open was in need of significant cleaning and renovation to bring it back to roadworthy and full PSV MOT standard.

It was treated to a repaint back into 1983 Southern National livery and since then has been a reliable and popular member of our collection. It has travelled to places as diverse as Alton (Hampshire), the Isle of Wight, and Penzance.

VDV134S was the first of a batch of 11 convertible open-top buses new to Western National (Devon General division) in October 1977 painted in red and white “open top” livery. It entered service in November 1977 with roof fitted and was named “Golden Hind” continuing the tradition of open top buses being named.

The roof was removed for Derby Day in 1978 and the bus then entered service from Torquay on open top routes between St. Marychurch, Torquay, Paignton and Brixham/Kingswear. The roof was replaced at end of summer season and similar pattern of use continued during 1979, 1980 and 1981.

It was loaned to Weymouth depot after Derby Day 1982 and used on open-top routes to Bowleaze Cove and Portland Bill.

Ownership transferred to the new “Southern National” company on 1st January 1983, repainted green and cream and renamed “Thomas Hardy”.

Remained at Weymouth until withdrawal in 2005 then laid up at Portswood Garage, Southampton then Winkleigh, Devon, until rescued for preservation in March 2013.

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VDV134S took part in the last day of NSC operations – operating the daytime journeys on route 55 between Nailsea and Bristol with a conductor. It is seen here at Nailsea Link Road on Friday 8th November 2013 wearing commemorative wreath.

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VDV134S photographed having just arrived at Nailsea from Chepstow when purchased early in 2013. Just how much cleaning was required can be seen!

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The sorry state of the interior when the bus was purchased. The open-top front and back perspex windscreens can be seen!