Bedford OBs 70th Anniversary celebration 1939 – 2009
Saturday 15 August 2009 and the promise of good weather did not materialise for the first part of the day on are 70th anniversary weekend, but nothing could dampen the spirits of the OB owners who arrived throughout the day as guests of General Motors, Luton.
From 10am the coaches started to arrive and thoughts of “will we beat the record of the most OBs together in one place in the 21st century “ was on every one’s mind.
By lunchtime,the sun was shining and the number of arrivals had reached double figures and as OB owners were shuttled back and forth to Stockwood Park Museum, courtesy of Dave Castleman and his 1949 Guy Wolf, the numbers of coaches on display steadily grew.
And as the passengers on the final trip to Stockwood returned to the Heritage Centre around 5.30pm they couldn’t believe their eyes……..there were 23 Bedford buses and coaches lined up in the afternoon sunshine. And what a sight it was……and more importantly the record was broken…on day one!
Coach owners marvelled at the unique sight and shared stories of journeys, restorations and wanted parts over a wonderful fish and chip supper, courtesy of General Motors. Following a trip down memory lane with a film show from the Vauxhall archives, the joyful owners ended the day with a well-earned drink at the local pub…with more stories of journeys, restorations and parts required of course!
Sunday 16 August 2009
And today the sun really did shine down on what was to be a day that would go down in history.
The already fantastic number of 23 coaches lined up in front of the Heritage Centre steadily grew and with the deadline of 10am for the photo-call fast approaching, owners eagerly awaited the arrival of the promised attendees.
As coaches arrived and passengers alighted, the sight of not only so many gleaming and unique coaches but also of the amazing efforts of owners, drivers and their friends to turn out in period costume made for a truly amazing spectacle.
From land army to policemen, from bus conductors to the landed gentry, all walks of life were represented in the throngs of people congregating around the ever increasing number of coaches.
Trade stands began to set up and a steady flow of other vintage vehicles started to arrive to add to the already growing excitement and anticipation amongst the crowd.
And at 10am sharp the line-up of OBs was complete…well almost!
In the morning sunshine, 32 coaches circled the perimeter of the Heritage Centre and the Vauxhall signage provided a perfect back- drop for the eagerly awaiting army of photographers.
And they truly had a treat….and no doubt a challenge, trying to capture what will surely be history in the making!
Next up was a photo shoot for all those in period costume with the wonderful display of buses and coaches in the background.
With official photography over, the general public were keen to join in the fun and enthusiastically chatted to owners and captured their own bit of history on film when at 11am everyone was invited to attend the awards presentation hosted by Bill Parfitt, Chairman of general Motors UK.
And unknown to Tim, there was a presentation from the Chairman of a beautiful pen set, presented in an ash case, to recognise this memorable occasion.
The next presentation was the Eddie Trigg shield, presented to the best turned out coach as decided by the Chairman of General Motors.
The shield was handed to the Chairman by last year’s winner, Mark Withers who then presented it to this year’s winner, Connie Barton, owner of HOT 339
The second presentation was for the best turned out passengers/drivers in period costume. Selected by Dennis Chick, Director of Communications, General Motors, the winner of this award was Alan Garaghty and Richard Messenger, owners of LDF 833.
The award for the bus who had travelled furthest to the event was presented to Rik Vanhesuden, owner of 5695P, who had come all the way from Belgium.
And nobody left empty-handed thanks again to General Motors and other sponsors who provided all the owners with a goody bag including a limited edition 70th anniversary OB model and medal. And just to ensure the rain stayed away all the owners’ partners were presented with an umbrella.
Midday came around too quickly and with the arrival of the very last coach, a convoy of 33 coaches left the Heritage Centre for the road run to Bletchley Park. And what a sight that was!
Official and amateur photographers lined the roads and clambered from prime locations on bridges to capture the procession of buses as they trundled in the scorching sunshine through Dunstable to their destination. But unknown to Tim and all the other bus and coach drivers the M1 had closed and all traffic was being diverted onto the A5 - and as OB owners well know, OB engines, hot weather and a stop and start journey are not a good mix, but despite a few overheated engines, everyone made it to Bletchley Park.
Visitors to the historic WW2 site were really in for a rare treat as coach after coach made their way through the entrance and up through the Park for a unique photo opportunity of their coach parked in front of the Manor House.
The display of coaches and passengers in period dress just couldn’t have been a more fitting celebration of 70 years of the OB and 70 years since the end of WW2 and when everyone thought things just couldn’t get any better…..the icing on the cake was a flypast by a Lancaster at 3.15pm.
As it soared through the sky and dipped down, hovering above the tress of Bletchley Park, there couldn’t have been a better finale to a truly memorable occasion.
The following were in attendence at the event:
This year's winners, as judged by all the Bedford owners, were:
HOT 339 - Bedford OB Duple, 1950
Owned by Connie Barton
The Eddie Trigg shield being presented by Bill Parfitt.
Best period costume driver/passenger
LDF 833 - Bedford OB Duple, 1952
Owned by Alan Garaghty and Richard Messenger
The winner was picked by Dennis Chick, Director of Communications for General Motors and presented by Bill Parfitt.
Furthest travelled coach
5695P - Bedford OB Duple, 1950
Owned by Rik Vanheusden (Belgium)
Bedford OB China Teapot (for tea on the way home).
Click here for the General Motors press release.
Click here for the Bus and Coach Buyer article.
Click here to read a poem composed by Victor J Holmes for the 70th anniversary Bedford OB event.
And our thanks go to:
We would also like to say a big thank you and and give credit to the following people for taking and supplying photos of the event:
And finally, a big thank you to the staff, everyone who contributed and those who turned up to Luton and Bletchley over the weekend.