Life at Chesterfield
After being acquired by Stagecoach East Midland’s sister depot at Chesterfield on 15 July 2005, GCT 113 undertook many visits to bus and coach rallies, as well as supporting the roll-out of new-look bus networks in South Yorkshire, Derbyshire and North Notts.
As one would expect, no sooner had GCT 113 ‘landed’ than she was rallied, with the first outing noted on 17 July 2005 as an evening tour around the Peak District. On 24 July GCT 113 undertook a ‘Welcome Tour’ and the first outing to a rally was on 31 July at Sandtoft – ironically fitting since the Trolleybus Museum here is located in North Lincolnshire.
Other notable visits to rallies during 2005 include Aston Manor Road Transport Museum on 14 August, Keighley Bus Museum a week later and Heaton Park in Manchester for the Trans-Lancs Rally on 4 September.
GCT 113’s usage during 2006 didn’t wane with plenty of visits noted. An early start was made with a trip to the Stagecoach Merseyside Titan Farewell Running Day at Liverpool on 2 Febraury and Manchester’s Museum of Transport on 25 March. Soon after GCT 113 became classified as a Class V for her MOT, meaning she couldn’t be operated in stage-carriage service.
Undeterred, notable visitations during 2006 include Lincolnshire Road Transport Museum on 16 April, Bridlington for the East Coast Run on 11 June and her first visit to Chatsworth Park for the fledgling Chatsworth Preserved Bus Gathering on 25 June. A second foray into North Lincolnshire was made the following month when GCT 113 once again visited Sandtoft and second visits were also made to Heaton Park and the National Tramway Museum in Crich. One rally that stands out is that at Bolton Abbey on 8 October.
For 2007, GCT 113 passed on paper into the Stagecoach Yorkshire fleet, into which the Chesterfield depot was subsumed on 1 April, following reorganisation by Stagecoach UK Bus. The first noted rally visited was on 20 May at the Potteries Omnibus Preservation Society’s running day at the Wedgewood Visitor Centre. For the month previous to this, GCT 113 was acting in her official role as a publicity vehicle for the new-look network of bus services in Barnsely. Further use was seen through 2007, though not to the same extent as the two previous years.
Notable rallies visited included the North Western Museum of Road Transport at St. Helens on 23 September and the Wirral Transport Museum a fortnight later. Third visits were made to Crich (26 August), Heaton Park (2 September) and Sandtoft (14 October). The bus undertook tree-lopping duties in the Pilsley area in preparation for the forthcoming Chatsworth rally in 2007, which she also attended.
Very little use was made of GCT 113 during 2008 and 2009. Searching forum and forma online threw up a post to one bus group stating that she was undergoing engine repair. For 2008 the only noted rally she visited was on 10 August at Galphram Stadium in Huddersfield for the Huddersfield & Kirklees Festival of Transport. For 2009, I’ve only found evidence that GCT 113 visited Manchester’s Museum of Transport on 19 April to celebrate their London Bus Day and had a planned (but unconfirmed) visit to Crich on 30 August.
Whether mechanical problems were the reason for the two-year spell away from rallies, or whether it was a mix of this coupled with the bus undertaking promotional duties for Stagecoach, 2010 would see very little rallying of this Grimsby-Cleethorpes Transport stalwart. The only noted trip away from Chesterfield was on 20 October when GCT 113 visited the appropriately themed Fleetline Fifty rally at The Transport Museum in Wythall. Much earlier in the year she was used as a wedding bus to celebrate the union of ‘Wayne & Dawn’.
2011 would see attendance at three rallies (unless anyone knows of more). First was on 4 June while operating ‘in service’ (offering free rides) at the Chesterfield Preserved Running Day; second was at the Peak Park Transport Gathering at Rowsley fifteen days later; and third at the Ecclesbourne Valley Railway’s Bus Gala in Wirksworth. GCT 113 was also noted attending the Ringwood Hotel while festooned in bunting depicting different flags of countries of the world.
GCT 113 would receive a PCV MOT once again during 2012, enabling her to carry fare-paying passengers on stage-carriage local bus services. The first use as such was on 30 August when she was utilised following the closure of the M1, which ‘lost’ a good proportion of the local fleet in heavy traffic. GCT 113 undertook a return trip on Service 70 between Chesterfield and Killamarsh.
A resurgence in rallying happened during 2013 when GCT 113 relived times past visiting Rowsley and Ecclesbourne Valley Railway in Wirksworth again during the summer and performing ‘in service’ duties at the now annual Chesterfield Preserved Buses Running Day on 14 September. On 9 December, GCT 113 made local news as she was the main event in Stagecoach Yorkshire’s Big Bus Pull event in Doncaster, to raise money for the Philippines Typhoon Appeal.
It was back in service early in 2014, when on 29 March GCT 113 ran in Mansfield, on the Mansfield Miller-branded Service 1, linking the town centre with Woodhouse. This was to celebrate one year since the town’s new bus station first opened. On 11 April GCT 113 took part in a special celebration to mark the 100th anniversary of buses running in Chesterfield. From May GCT 113 headed ‘home’ to Grimsby depot, operating Service 17 along Cleethorpes seafront for the summer, returning to Chesterfield in October.
While the next time GCT 113 would return ‘home’ would be after I purchased her in 2017, the remainder of her time at Chesterfield saw infrequent use, although rallies were attended. During 2015 she undertook an evening tour of the Peak District on 1 March, and ran in passenger service for the day in Chesterfield on 29 August, performing on services 54 (Clay Cross), 74 (Duckmanton) and 39 (Grangewood/Holme Hall). The following day she operated at the Sheffield Bus Running Day based at Abbeydale Road in the city.
2016 would be the penultimate year GCT 113 would be housed at Chesterfield and three events marked her use. First was on 19 June when she attended the Peak Park Transport Gathering at Rowsley; then operating in passenger service on 13 August in Chesterfield to mark the Trident Farewell Running Day (early versions of this chassis type, plus GCT 113 herself would not be able to run in passenger service into 2017) and finally – and possibly most fitting of all – is that GCT 113’s final rally would be at Donington Park for Showbus, her first ever visit to the UK’s largest bus and coach rally, on 25 September. Even more remarkable was that she’d been given a fresh coat of paint and had minor bodywork repairs.
Life with me back in Lincolnshire would see the number of rallies attended increase, compared with the last few years under Stagecoach ownership. Sadly, the PCV MOT would be lost in favour of a Class V 'ticket' as, while she is in great shape and could pass the PCV MOT, I couldn't see a valid reason to keep her classified as a PCV especially since she'd been de-classified for six years while at Chesterfield.