Two bus stations closing this summer
Devon General Omnibus Trust working together with Plymouth City Transport Preservation Group
The bus and coach stations at Paris Street in Exeter and Bretonside in Plymouth are both due to close this summer. To celebrate the heyday of coaching, the Devon General Omnibus Trust has organised a cavalcade of historic coaches between the two sites.
On Saturday 16th July, up to twenty old buses and coaches will leave Exeter coach station at 1030, bound for Bretonside in Plymouth. They will travel along the traditional route that was used before the A38 South Devon Expressway was opened in 1975. They will pass through the Devon countryside and remind passengers and bystanders of a bygone era when luxury coach travel took place at a more sedate pace, when people weren't in such a hurry.
The coaches will leave Exeter via Countess Wear and Matford to join the A38 for the climb up Haldon Hill. They will turn off to follow the old road through Chudleigh (around 1100) and Bickington, through Ashburton (around 1120) and Buckfastleigh, and through South Brent (around 1140) and Ivybridge.
At Smithaleigh, they will pause to regroup into a convoy for the final leg into Plymouth, where they will be met by a Civic party at Bretonside at around 1230.
Chairman of the Devon General Omnibus Trust, Peter Murnaghan said “ It is a very sad day to be saying goodbye to not just one long established bus and coach station in the South West, but two in the same year. We recognise that travel patterns change over time and these two sites need to be replaced, but they hold happy memories for many thousands of holidaymakers and local travellers over the years, who have caught coaches from Exeter and Plymouth. We thought that we must mark this unique moment in our history with a run of heritage coaches between the two cities”.
The coaches are privately owned and restored, but members of the public may buy a programme at Exeter before departure and ask permission of the drivers to travel on the cavalcade. Many of the coaches will be staying in Plymouth for a rally the next day, so it will not be possible to return on the historic coaches. Any passengers would need to make their own way back to Exeter on normal bus or train services.
In Plymouth, a number of heritage bus services will be running on routes around the city on Saturday afternoon and a major transport rally, organised by the Plymouth City Transport Preservation Group will be taking place at The George park & ride car park on the following day, Sunday 17th July.
The Devon General Omnibus Trust would welcome readers' photographs of the old coaches passing through the Devon villages during the morning run. See their website www.dgot.co.uk for contact details.
Thanks to Peter Murnaghan for supplying photos, of just a few of the buses and coaches that should be attending these events.