The weather was certainly kind to us as we set up our gazebo and sales stand at the Lewes Bus Rally. The previous day had seen heavy, localised rain and we fully expected to find a waterlogged field on which to erect the gazebo but no, the sun had dried things out, the river was bubbling along in its bed and there were no muddy puddles to catch us out.
Being in deepest Sussex it is no wonder that a predominance of Southdown vehicles would rule the day. Several examples of their Leyland PD3 ‘Queen Mary’ double deckers were operating throughout the event taking visitors on tours of the town and various other places.
The Queen Marys were Southdown’s workhorses during the sixties and early seventies. The full fronted Northern Counties bodies gave them a unique appearance and gave rise to their being referred to as Southdown’s ‘Routemaster’. As they were operated on coastal routes many were built as convertible open top vehicles for the tourist trade in the summer season. There is something very special about riding on the top deck of an open top Queen Mary with the wind in your hair.
For us, Lewes’s major attraction is the Harvey’s Brewery home of our favourite tipple but, today, imbibing a pint in a local hostelry was not to be. Thankfully, our enjoyment of the rally curbed our frustration of trading within sniffing distance of the brewery. Our joy was also compounded when Dennis Jason, owner of RT1777 which is preserved as a training bus, returned from a trip into town with a couple of bottles from the brewery shop.
There were several other bus operators in attendance and to name a few: Trent, Compass Bus, Maidstone & District, Brighton & Hove, Eastbourne and London Transport.
Our thanks to the organisers for a well run day. We enjoyed it and will be back next time if you’ll have us.