Bristol RESH – 301 (KDL 885F)

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owned by  –  The Isle of Wight Bus & Coach Museum (click title to read more…)

301 (KDL 885F) at Carisbrooke Castle
301 (KDL 885F) at Carisbrooke Castle

Only 11 vehicles of this marque of Bristol RE were built and all but 2 were fitted with this style of ‘Commander’ bodywork produced by Duple (Northern) at its Blackpool factory. Hants & Dorset and Lincolnshire Road Car were among other purchasers but 301 is thought to be the sole survivor of the type.

Although lightweight Bedford coaches were usually purchased for ‘Round the Island’ tours and other local duties, Southern Vectis always kept a handful of heavyweight Bristol vehicles for mainland tours. When new, the coach was fitted with a Gardner 6HLW engine (as used in the shorter MW type) but this proved embarrassingly underpowered in the Bristol RE used for touring work.  The solution taken was to re-equip 301 with a more powerful Gardner 6HLX engine which overcame the difficulties. Originally the coach was a 39 seater but this was increased to 41 in 1970 and further to 45 in January 1972.

With the formation of the National Bus Company which absorbed Southern Vectis and most of the other part-nationalised bus companies, 301 lost its Tilling cream and green livery in April 1974 when repainted in the standard National white coach livery which did not suit the classic bodywork lines. It performed in the late 70s on a daily Isle of Wight-London (Victoria) service in consort to the other express working to Bristol, performed by Southern Vectis’ other RE coach (302) which was a longer RELH new in 1972.

After these workings ceased, it was restored to its original livery in May, 1984 and used mainly for Island tours or private hire work until June 1990 when it was placed on loan to preservationist Richard Harverson of  Horsham, on the condition that it could come to rescue of any Southern Vectis coach that might experience a problem whilst operating on the mainland. It returned to the Island in March, 1993 and to service with the Coaching Unit from March 1994. It saw limited use, although had been intended for tours to events of interest to enthusiasts. It ran in a ‘Farewell to the Vintage Fleet’ tour on 29th September, 1996 and was used only once more (in October) before withdrawal in February, 1997. The coach was placed on loan to the Bus Museum from June 1997 and eventually sold to it in October 2001. Some restoration work on the timber framed Duple body has been carried out recently and it was repainted in Tilling cream and green by the Southern Vectis paintshop in 2004.

Vehicle Details/Specification:

  • Bristol RESH6G, Chassis No. RESH2-107
  • Body: Duple (Northern) No. 191/5

Key dates:

  • New, in Tilling cream and green  – February 1968
  • Re-engined with Gardner 6HLX and up-seated to 41 – 1970
  • Up-seated to 45 – January 1972
  • Repainted in NBC white – April 1974
  • Repainted in Tilling cream and green – May 1984
  • Loaned to preservationist R. Harverson – June 1990
  • Reinstated in Southern Vectis fleet – March 1994
  • Withdrawn – February 1997
  • Loaned by Southern Vectis to The Isle of Wight Bus & Coach Museum – June 1997
  • Sold to The Isle of Wight Bus & Coach Museum – October 2001
  • Repainted in Tilling cream & green (by Southern Vectis) – 2004

Current Status:

  • Fully restored and operational