We are delighted to be celebrating the 60th anniversary of the Maidstone & District and East Kent Bus Club, as they take to the roads on a special tour around Kent on Saturday 18 August 2012.
Part of the tour will break away and wend its way to Margate where three of Thanet’s veteran buses, with their drivers in vintage uniforms, will arrive just before mid-day. Their first stop will be outside Dreamland’s Grade II* listed cinema on Marine Terrace for a rare photo opportunity. People will be invited to climb aboard for a short trip along the seafront to Margate’s Harbour area for another photo opportunity before setting off to Ramsgate to re-join the wider Kent tour.
Club member, Richard Wallace, said;
The M&D and East Kent Bus Club was set up in 1952 from very small beginnings with its original founder still an active club member. The Club, now a recognised leader in terms of its coverage and documentation of the history of the two Kentish bus companies and their successors, has produced many publications on bus companies and services in Kent and these, together with extensive recording of archive material, means it is an important source of social history regarding this mode of transport.
The Club has an active membership of 450 and produces a monthly newsletter – ‘Invicta’. It also owns an original Maidstone & District Bristol double-deck bus dating from 1945, which regularly appears at events in Kent and will have operated an earlier leg of this anniversary tour.
The tour, for club members and their guests, starts in Chatham and Maidstone and will run via Canterbury, Margate, Dover and Folkestone before returning to Maidstone and the Medway towns. It will use a number of vintage vehicles. For Thanet, the highlight of the tour is the return of three buses, preserved in working order, which have all had a long association with the area.
The star attractions are:
An AEC Regent V with Park Royal double-deck body, delivered to East Kent in 1959; it spent most of its working life in the area and the fleet of vehicles is uniquely identified with operation on the Isle of Thanet, especially in their early years. It was purchased for preservation in 1979 shortly after it finished with East Kent and is now owned by Richard Chant, a former East Kent employee, and Richard Wallace, also from East Kent and a former driver at Thanet depot, Westwood.
Owned by Phil Drake of Deal and David Ferguson of Ramsgate, this is a Daimler Fleetline also with Park Royal double-deck bodywork, delivered to East Kent in 1969; it spent nearly half of its working life at Thanet, ushering in the new range of double-deck ‘one-man’ operation in 1969 – at that time a first for the area. The vehicle was loaned to the sister company Maidstone and District from the late 1970s before being finally retired from East Kent in 1987. It entered preservation in 1989 and was purchased by the current owners in 2001.
This is a more modern vehicle, a Bristol VR with Willowbrook double-deck bodywork from 1978. Representative of the nationalised era, it was converted to open-top following an encounter with a low bridge and entered service on Thanet’s renowned seaside service, No. 69 in 1981. Withdrawn in 1992 it entered preservation with the current owner, Paul Houselander of Ashford, in 2008.
All these vehicles are inextricably linked with the history of the Isle of Thanet, spending many years transporting residents and visitors alike between Ramsgate, Broadstairs, Margate and Birchington. The earlier vehicles have been restored to their original red and cream colours whilst the open topper retains its unique livery for the special Thanet seaside service.
The veteran Thanet buses will be a reminder of those happy, sunny days of the 1960s, 70s and 80s when Margate was a major holiday destination for the south-east and with Dreamland at its heart as one of Kent’s biggest visitor attractions.
For more details of the Maidstone & District and East Kent Bus Club their activities and publications go to: http://www.mdekbusclub.org/.
MUSEUM OF MONSTROSITIES
We received an invitation this month from the curator of the Museum of Monstrosities to view an exhibition of never-seen-before oddities and peculiar specimens discovered by a Victorian adventurer and amateur scientist.
The items, we understand, are part of a larger collection and can be seen in Margate’s Old Town Media Centre where, incidentally, our old office used to be – we never did find our intern. I leave you, dear reader, to come to your own conclusions…
Opening times and venue can be found at http://www.margatemonstrosities.com/index.html
PROJECT UP-DATE & CPO
Extract from The Prince’s Regeneration Trust Conservation Statement 2009 & 2011.
llustration: Interior of the Sunshine Café, 1935, showing the fully-glazed bar–back of cast glass lights in concrete frame. The Walpole Champneys mural of a sea serpent writhing through a geometric seascape extends 40feet (12.2m) over the bar-back and return facia. The pendant light fittings were similar in design to the exterior fittings underneath the pavement canopy. Photo: The John Hutchinson Collection, courtesy The Dreamland Trust archive.
Urgent Works to the Grade 2* Listed Cinema Building are now near completion (later this month). The remaining work will be the installation of the concrete framed windows to the Sunshine Café. These are currently in manufacture and are programmed to be installed by the end of September 2012.
Meanwhile, the authority is currently awaiting the decision on the Compulsory Purchase Order from the Secretary of State. We were expecting the decision by the end of July, but we now understand it will be some time in August.
Our grateful thanks go to Mr David Littleboy and I T Solutions for their generous contribution of time and resources and Mr Brian Stephenson, Chairman Thanet Hackney Carriage Association for the loan of the taxi rank to the M&D and East Kent Bus Club for their 60th anniversary visit to the Dreamland Cinema.