Buses return to Imber after 66 years PHOTO(September 05, 2009)
WHAT now connects the Royal Albert Hall with the 'ghost' village of Imber? A red double decker bus recognised the world over. writes Paul Macdonald.
A 'number 9' bus that still plies the route from the historic landmark in London to Aldwych became the '23a' today to set off from Warminster.
It took passengers via Sack hill, Imber village and Gore Cross to the other side of Salisbury Plain for refreshments at the Rose and Crown at Tilshead before returning as the first bus service to Imber for 66 years.
A mixed fleet of privately and commercially owned former 'London Transport' Roadmaster buses were brought together by the Bath Bus Company.
"The Routemaster in front is still used in London from the Royal Albert Hall," explained one of the drivers Derek White who was waiting for the 'double ding' of the bell from conductor Adrian Full.
"I have come today to help out in this bus that is usually these days used for private functions, weddings and corporate events."
The special away day on offer meant that visitors could make a journey 'with a difference' past military tanks dotted alongside the road to visit the church which was holding an open day to show off four years restoration work.
"I used to have an anorak more associated with train spotters," explained one visitor. "It started with an I-spy book of London buses. Are there any RT buses today?"
(For the aficionado of the the red London buses there was an original 51-year-old 'RM' bus registration number VLT 25 put out of use by the RML series.)
The buses then departed with the small throng of camera wielding visitors waved off by others in cars on the last service of the day bringing another unique day in the history of Imber to an end.
Two of the double deckers are used by the organisers of the one-off day based at North Parade in Bath who also run open topped bus in the city.
*The double decker buses can carry up to seventy guests for a wedding for £550.
Pictured: 'RML 2344' pictured waiting at the Imber Church bus stop after a day long 'busman's holiday' away from it's normal city work.