Obituary: Cyril Kenzie, 1928-2021

Cyril Kenzie, Kenzies Coaches

Cyril Kenzie, one of coaching’s best-known, most respected and longest serving figures, died on 22 September. He was 93.

Cyril was long the head of his family’s business, Kenzies Coaches of Shepreth, which was founded by his father Bernard in 1947. He was well known for his unstinting support of the UK Coach Rally, at which he was regularly seen with either a modern coach or a member of his fleet of finely restored vehicles.

At its peak, Kenzies operated around 50 coaches, and during the company’s heyday it worked on behalf of various incoming tour companies along with carrying out extensive overseas trips.

Kenzies was closely associated with the Bedford marque in its earlier days. In later years it moved towards imported models, but some Bedfords formed part of Cyril’s restored stable. Among them was his Duple Vista-bodied OB, which alongside Cyril had a starring role in a 2011 BBC Timeshift documentary titled The Golden Age of Coach Travel.

Among his many reminiscences on the programme was one of passengers playing ‘roulette’ with numbers marked in chalk on the nearside rear tyre and gambling on which one would align with an arrow chalked on the wheel arch panel when the coach next stopped.

“Everybody used to get upset if you rubbed against the kerb and rubbed the numbers off on the way,” he told the show. His similarly immaculate Plaxton-bodied Bedford VAL tri-axle was also well-known, which kept company with a rarer Harrington Legionnaire-bodied VAL.

Cyril Kenzie of Kenzies Coaches Bedford VAL
Cyril Kenzie was known for his unstinting support of the UK Coach Rally; in 2018 he attended in his preserved Plaxton-bodied Bedford VAL

Kenzies Coaches closed in August 2019 after Cyril’s son Richard reached retirement age.

The body shop division was taken on by its former manager Darren Stanford to continue to serve Kenzies’ customers’ bodywork requirements and to carry out restoration work on classic vehicles.

Cyril’s contribution to the industry was recognised with the Special Award at the 2016 routeone Awards. At the time, aged 88, he had spent over 70 years in coaching and was still working full-time for the family business.