Preview : Busfest@Gaydon, 2 July 2022


A Leyland National yesterday

Fuzz Townshend, host of Car SOS and self-confessed ‘bus nut’ will officially open Wythall Busfest@Gaydon on Saturday 2 July at the British Motor Museum. Known for his strong support of the classic car movement via his own business SOS Workshop Limited, he also owns an ex-West Midlands PTE, Park Royal-bodied, ‘Jumbo’ Daimler Fleetline 3913, which he will bring to the show.

Fuzz has been a bus enthusiast since childhood and joined the West Midlands Passenger Transport Executive (WMPTE) as an apprentice, working on buses at their Sutton Coldfield, Stourbridge and Dudley garages, among others.

Entering the classic car world, he was Technical Editor of Practical Classics until 2011 when he decided to go freelance as well as opening a classic car restoration business. He still writes in Practical Classics and Classic Car Weekly and works hard saving some amazing vehicles, including a fire engine.

About Busfest

A whole host of vehicles will be celebrated. Events featuring the Leyland National, which celebrates 50 years this year, continue on from the successful weekend display and rally at Whitehaven in Cumbria that was organised by the Workington Transport Heritage Trust.

  • Conference and Q and A featuring Leyland National celebrities from across the bus industry
  • Photo portfolio of the Leyland National on display
  • DVD on Leyland National history in production
  • National Express Coaches 50th Anniversary gathering
  • National Express West Midlands Heritage Fleet on display
  • Entry list building by the week – all buses welcome

Conference and Q&A

Mike Humble will be hosting a key group of Leyland National celebrities who have offered to share their thoughts and experiences of the Leyland National in a conference-type format. This lighthearted session will possibly answer all your questions about the design, development, operation and history of Leyland’s half-century legend – the National.

The people sharing their time are:

David Quainton
Former Director of Leyland Bus Workington and Park Royal Coachworks. David oversaw the Gardner engine fitment programme for National 2 and worked closely with BREL on the Railbus projects.

Ken Hargreaves
Production Superintendent for Leyland National Limited at Workington under British Leyland. Ken was responsible for the test and development of the assembly lines, body in white, prototypes and power units. He was General Manager under VL bus and ended his career as Consultant Engineer UK and Europe for the Volvo Corporation.

Barrie Wills
Leyland National Procurement and Supplies Manager from 1968 to 1971. Barrie worked directly under Marcus Smith (Executive Director, Leyland National Limited) and negotiated all parts supplies and production equipment to set up the plant and get the vehicle into production.

Andrew Freeman
A time served fitter/engineer who worked for a number of companies in the Midlands including Metrowest, North Birmingham Busways and Chase Bus, the latter known for its fleet of Nationals and its engineering capabilities.

Sam Ayling
The owner of Sussex Coaches in Billingshurst and former owner of pre-production national FRM 499K and ex-LRT/Chase THX193S (both in preservation). He ran 193 in daily use after light restoration and fitting a new engine. Sam was a former employee of London Country and Tillingbourne.

And Also:

The Basil Hancock Photo Archive
A large display of captioned photographs, many unique and unpublished, has been provided by former Leyland Bus senior executive Basil Hancock. Images show pre-production vehicles, test vehicles, developments, exports and even the double-ended tunnel National proposal. Basil now lives in Australia so will sadly be unable to attend.

Basil Hancock was born in London in 1953 and worked in engineering and design for Leyland Bus and its predecessors from 1976 to 1987. His position as Product Planning Manager for Leyland Bus brought involvement in many bus and coach projects, including various Leyland National variants. He moved to Australia in 1987 and, after a long engineering and project management career in bus, light rail and heavy rail, he retired from full-time work at the end of 2021.

National 50th DVD

This production has already commenced and sets out to tell the story of the National’s development, production and ongoing service. Love it or hate it, the National established a watershed moment in the bus industry, described as ‘a bus aimed at meeting the future needs of a revitalised urban transport system’ – we will hear the tale, warts and all!  The video is being produced by John Clancy at Triumph DVD and hosted by Mike Humble.

National Express Coaches’ 50th Anniversary

The brand celebrates 50 years on the road in 2022, so we intend to gather as many National Express coaches from across the decades as possible at Wythall Busfest@Gaydon. The company has clocked up 3.8 billion miles in the last 50 years. National Express is urging staff, customers and coach enthusiasts to get in touch with their memories for presentation in an online storybook, a commemorative hardback book is also planned. Stories can be shared via the National Express website. If you have an example, this is a unique opportunity to display it so please come along by booking in here: Wythall Booking Form for Visiting Buses.

National Express West Midlands Heritage Fleet

National Express will be displaying a number of vehicles from its heritage fleet painted in the various colourful liveries from the West Midlands’ pre-privatisation/National Express era.

For further info and tickets click HERE.

Mike Humble

1 Comment

  1. Great day out, despite the almost permanent rain. Lots to see outside the museum, and in Wythall style lots of running vehicles. Really enjoyed it.

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