Today would be the first time ever that any vehicle of any type wearing GCT's orange and white livery dating from 1987 until the Stagecoach purchase in 1993 (and into January 1996 when the last closed-top Fleetline was withdrawn) would attend Showbus.
For the uninitiated, Showbus is the world's largest bus and coach gathering, which takes place towards the end of September each year. My first visit was in 2001 and for many years the event was held at the Imperial War Museum at Duxford in Cambridgeshire. Recently, Donington Park has been its home and GCT 113 made her maiden voyage to this specific location in 2017, only to be return today, two years later.
This year's Showbus celebrates 50 years of British Leyland and since production of the Fleetline chassis was taken over by Leyland from Daimler towards the end of 1973, GCT 113 is very much a Leyland product, even though she was delivered in December 1976 badged as a Daimler.
A total of 39 entrants were Leylands and attempts were made to park them together. GCT 113 was entry number 47 in the Leyland cohort range 40-79.
This was the first year I've brought a vehicle to Showbus and was very impressed with the level of communication the organisers have with the owners of vehicle entrants. A very efficient operation appears to be in place, with plans, maps, form templates and entry number sheets all available days in advance to print off.
The entrance to the event was different this year to previous occasions as there were temporary traffic lights on the A453, between the M1 and Donington Park, so the map suggested that those coming from the M1/Nottingham direction to travel via the M42 and leave at Junction 14 then head north to the site. Except you can't leave at Junction 14 from the east, so we had to travel to Ashby de la Zouch (J15) and retrace our steps. This certainly hadn't been tested. A rather unnecessary 13 additional miles were added to the journey.
Unlike all those years at the Imperial War Museum where it could take anything up to 30 minutes to enter the site and park up, the organisation at Donington Park was excellent. There were well in excess of 100 photographers all lined up at different occasions as entrants made their way along the straight entrance road with an incline. The first marshall told me which direction I needed to go and a second marshall pointed to the row in which pitch 47 was located. In under 5 minutes from entering the site, GCT 113 was parked up and the engine turned off.
Unlike previous rallies attended this year, Showbus was markedly the coldest for GCT 113 and wandering the many rows of resplendent buses and coaches, I couldn't help feel I should have worn an additional layer of clothing.
Rally Control handed me a plaque for entry - the first I've received since owning GCT 113, and it is displayed in the cab with other plaques that she has received during her twelve years at Chesterfield depot.
Having caught up with friends and spent some time perusing the many stalls located along the periphery, it soon dawned on me how few vehicles were in attendance. Showbus continues to call itself the world's largest collection of buses and coaches, though in many respects since the move away from the Imperial War Museum in Duxford was made, entry numbers have not just dropped but nosedived. Time was, it was impossible for me to photograph every vehicle in attendance when held at Duxford - short of 500 vehicles attended in years gone by - but today the 300 or so were photographed with ease (there were plenty of gaps with some entrants not turning up), and that factors in the many occasions when patience is most certainly a virtue!
I was strongly advised to enter GCT 113 for judging next year. I had automatically ticked the 'Not for Judging' box when I sent off my application; I don't know why, but with a recommendation from someone who knows his stuff, perhaps I may do so next year, when the event will be held at the Hertfordshire Showground.