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GCT 113's First Year

As 2018 is drawing to a close, I thought it would be prudent to write a blog entry looking back at GCT 113's first year in private preservation, where she found herself back in GCT colours and rallied on six occasions.

In fact, the year dawned with GCT 113 wearing the wrong livery. It was in this yellow-orange prototype shade, which GCT did initially sign off but subsequently alter, that GCT 113 was serviced and driven to Boston MOT testing station where she passed her Class 5 inspection without any advisories. The ease with which the bus passed her MOT is down to the condition that Stagecoach Yorkshire kept her in, where since 2012 she was maintained to a Class 6 ‘hire & reward’ PCV MOT standard.

The MOT took place on day with rainfall forecast and the bus did get rather wet. In this respect, it wasn’t the best start to the year, though she did dry off very soon once back undercover.

The next event that took place was the correction of livery worn. Fortuitously, the error didn’t lie with me but my very approachable paint rep, whose knowledge of GCT colours was unrivalled since it was he who, on behalf of his employer at the time, supplied GCT with their caramel and cream paint from 1981 and orange and white from 1987.

Since I’d not made the error per se, and was guilty of nothing more than simply trusting what I hope you’ll agree was the ‘perfect’ contact, a resolution was soon agreed and thanks to a Horncastle-based paint shop, GCT 113 was back undercover being rubbed down in readiness for the correct orange to be applied.

I had planned on taking her to the Easter Sunday Transport Festival organised by the Lincolnshire Vintage Vehicle Society (LVVS), based at the Lincolnshire Road Transport Museum in Whisby, Lincoln, though finding a slot with a painter who was undertaking a partial repaint buckshee isn’t as easy as when you’re handing over the reddies, and so I had to forego this event since I didn’t collect GCT 113 until 1 May.

And what a day that was. Other than the vinyl stripe, legal lettering and fleet numbers, GCT 113 was now complete. The orange – a Pantone shade, based on the original orange GCT fleet name sticker I’d been loaned – was now correct, and arrived at using precisely the same method as GCT had done 31 years earlier.

The first rally was everything I could have asked for. Attending the Fenland BusFest in Whittlesey, Peterborough on 20 May, GCT operated 60 ‘live’ miles with packed loads. As I reported, the weather was perfect, the organisation of the day was great and the bus performed flawlessly. It was also an event to which the bus hadn’t attended while at Stagecoach Yorkshire’s Chesterfield depot. GCT 113 undertook three return trips to Ramsey and looked resplendent in her GCT orange and white livery.

Peterborough would be the location for the next rally, when GCT 113 attended the Peterborough Bus Rally & Commercial Vehicle Show on 7 July. It was yet another scorcher of a day, with severely parched grass everywhere. Today would see considerably less in-service use of the bus, since she wasn’t due to work a service until 1405, when she would operate a return trip from Sacrewell Farm (the location of the rally), just off the A1 at Wansfield, to Wansford Nene Valley Railway. This saw GCT 113 in yet another location that she’d never visited before and as with the previous event, she performed without fault at those top speeds while enduring top temperatures.

I had hoped to attend the annual open day at Sandtoft Trolleybus Museum, but family commitments scuppered that quite late on, so instead, I entered GCT 113 to an event the following weekend, at the Great Central Nottingham’s Ruddington station, organised by the Nottingham Area Bus Society (NABS). By now, the UK was gripped in a protracted heat wave and so once again, on 15 July, I stretched the bus’s legs in 30C+ heat along the A52 into Nottinghamshire, where GCT 113 would be a static display amongst other locally preserved buses and coaches. This was a new event to both the bus and I and it’s certainly a rally to which I’d happily return in the future. The event also saw three preserved GCT buses side by side for the first time ever.

There were no further rallies until September, with my finishing off the remaining exterior elements of GCT 113 taking priority during August. My sign writer completed the vinyl stripe down each side of the bus, and at the same time applied the gold fleet numbers. Next was the fitment of the rear number blind, which while produced a fantastic result, didn’t go quite as planned. Finally, at the start of September, a friend with his vinyl cutter came to the bus to provide me with my bespoke legal lettering requirements.

This was completed in time for GCT 113 to return home to Grimsby on 16 September, when she undertook a Return Home Tour of North East Lincolnshire. The day was superb, with 19 passengers making the effort to travel on the bus either all or part of the day. A number of significant and iconic photographs were taken, too, some of which have gone on to feature in national magazines. GCT 113 recreated specific GCT routes of her era and thirty photo stops were factored in. The Return Home Schedule can be viewed here.

Showbus would be the next rally at which GCT 113 would attend, taking place on 29 September at Donington Park for the last time. GCT 113 was parked with other Leyland chassis since the rally this year celebrated 50 years of British Leyland. The bus had attended Showbus two years earlier, in what would also coincidentally be the last rally she attended for Stagecoach. Here, GCT 113 became a little more well known as she was photographed considerably and many of these images have since been uploaded to Flickr and other online photo-sharing sites.

The final rally of the year took place on 4 November when GCT 113 attended the LVVS’s Transport Festival at Whisby. She had attended this event the year earlier – the first time she'd carried passengers while in private preservation – and so it was significant that she now returned to do the same bus in a GCT livery. Sadly, heavy rain scuppered one of the Open-Top Tours, and subsequent departures could only really be taken while sat in the lower saloon; a few hardy souls did venture upstairs, though many didn’t last long.

A superb video montage was made of GCT 113, which can be viewed here. A 7-minute video filmed by a passenger on board GCT 113 travelling from Lincoln City Centre to the Road Transport Museum can be seen here.

Over 1,000 miles were added to GCT 113’s speedometer during 2018, all of which operated faultlessly. This Grimsby-Cleethorpes stalwart has, I hope, brought many memories back to those who’ve seen and ridden on her throughout the year. While there are always things I could do in order to further improve the bus, for now GCT 113 operates in the same condition as she did in February 1994 when she was withdrawn and had her roof removed for operation along Cleethorpes Seafront.

The 2018 Gallery showcases images taken of GCT 113 throughout the year. Please also remember to check the Images page for all historical (pre-August 2017) images of the bus, some dating back to the late 1970s. New additions here are added to the bottom of the page.

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