Rain came but didn’t dampen spirits at Gaydon Busfest

Image of a National Mk2 and Suburban Express

The rain came but certainly didn’t dampen spirits at the inaugural Wythall Busfest at Gaydon on Saturday 2 July. With 100 buses entered along with over 750 visitors and 25 sales stands, the event is now firmly on the map and already booked again for 1 July 2023.

Fuzz Townshend, presenter of the Car SOS restoration show, longtime bus enthusiast and owner of a West Midlands Travel Fleetline 3913, unable to formally open the show outside, instead took the microphone to tell us about his early life in the bus industry.

The two 50th anniversaries – the Leyland National bus and National Express (Nat Ex) coaches – were well supported and augmented by lively presentations, questions and answers by senior members of the original Leyland development team and Dr Peter Robinson on the history of Nat Ex respectively. Nat Ex was well represented by a sales stand inside the museum showing a video history of the brand and National Express West Midlands brought along four of its heritage liveried fleet plus a new electric BYD ADL Enviro400EV.

Outside in the heavy rain where 75 buses finally made the day, nine Leyland Nationals were on display including REV01, an early prototype making the long journey from Workington without missing a beat, Wythall’s Midland Red Mk1 and West Midlands Travel Mk2. Eight Nat Ex coaches represented the history of this iconic brand including two Leyland Leopards and the very latest Caetano Levante III. Wythall’s Midland Red CM6 motorway express coach was also on display, the vehicle having run in all-white livery for a number of years. A wide cross selection of coaches and buses from across the decades filled the display areas with variety and interest, including Wythall’s latest restoration, 1931 AEC Regent, Birmingham City Transport number 486.

Unfortunately the planned running of two ride routes, on and off site, was severely hampered by the appalling weather, very much out of the control of the organisers, but the major advantage of the British Motor Museum is that all visitors were able to enjoy an extended opportunity to visit the sales stands, join the presentations, view the amazing collection of historic British cars and take refreshment away from the deluge. In true British fashion, as everyone began their journeys home, the skies cleared and the sun came out.

The Transport Museum Wythall team wish to express their thanks to all that joined the event, to Fuzz Townshend for opening the show and joining us at the microphone, the speakers for both anniversaries and to the enthusiasts, Nat Ex for its support, and members of the wider public who braved the elements, not forgetting our partners and staff from the British Motor Museum.