Bristol FLF6G – 611 (CDL 479C)
owned by – The Isle of Wight Bus & Coach Museum (click title to read more…)
New to Southern Vectis in August 1965, CDL479C (allocated fleet number 611) was one of five Bristol FLF6G double deckers delivered to the fleet that year. Southern Vectis, like many other operators, had opted to purchase the FLF type from 1964, after much previous experience with 74 of the LD and FS types. While these were rear-entrance designs, the FLF was a front-loader with powered doors and had an increased capacity of 70. Altogether, a total of 22 FLFs were purchased new by Southern Vectis between 1964 and 1968, although 3 were exchanged for Bristol VR double deckers in 1973 and an FLF was acquired second-hand in 1976 and converted to open-top.
The new FLF type vehicles were often seen in their early seasons working the 16X service. This service was introduced in 1966 as a means of replacing the railway service from Ryde to Ventnor, the Shanklin to Ventnor section having closed in April of that year. The route was operated as a limited stop service and boards were fitted to the radiator grill to advise intending passengers of this: the Museum has an example of this board which can be fitted to 611 today.
However, the 16X ceased operating after the 1971 summer, although the FLFs continued to work between Ryde and Ventnor on the normal 16 route. Another regular duty for the FLFs was the 1A, from Ryde to Newport and Cowes. Linking three major towns, this service was always very busy and the 70-seat capacity of the FLF (the largest on the island at the time) was often needed at peak times. FLFs did not stray from the 1A or 16 much, as their 30ft (9.1m) length and long wheelbase proved to be a problem on more rural routes.
Withdrawals of FLFs started in the early 1980s, being replaced by deliveries of new Leyland Olympians, although a few lingered on into 1983. 611 was one of these and came off the road in September of that year. It was then sold in June 1984 to Shamrock and Rambler of Bournemouth, who used it as a driver training vehicle and on some school duties.
However, Southern Vectis made an approach to re-purchase 611 only two years later and 611 was back on the island by December 1986. A “Vintage Fleet” had been formed for the operation of a handful of Southern Vectis Vehicles such as 611 and this continued up to 1996, when the Vintage Fleet was disbanded. 611 was the last vehicle to run in the Vintage Fleet and came off the road in September that year. The IW Bus Museum was formed as a result of the withdrawal of the vintage vehicles and after operating a farewell tour, 611 entered the museum in June 1997. She also acted as the museum’s temporary shop between late 1997 and January 1999, before returning to the road in May 1999. The vehicle was sold by Southern Vectis to the IW Bus Museum in October 2001.
- Bristol FLF6G, Chassis No. 229068
- Body: ECW No. 14999
- New, in Tilling green & cream – June 1965
- Repainted into NBC leaf green & white – June 1975
- Withdrawn – September 1983
- Sold to Shamrock & Rambler as no 3199 – June 1984
- Renumbered 199 – December 1985
- Withdrawn – September 1986
- Re-acquired by Southern Vectis – November 1986
- Repainted in Tilling green & cream and into service as part of vintage fleet – 1987
- Withdrawn – September 1996
- Loaned by Southern Vectis to The Isle of Wight Bus & Coach Museum – June 1997
- Sold to The Isle of Wight Bus Museum for preservation – October 2001
- Fully restored, though currently not fit for service due to rear axle requiring attention