Arriva London’s RMC 1453 drives to abandoned village for charity
For the last seven years, for one day each year, a full bus service, route 23A, has been laid on to an abandoned village in the middle of Salisbury Plain.
This strange route starts in Warminster in Wiltshire, and ends in Imber, an isolated ghost village that has been under British military occupation for more than 70 years.
The idea for the route started like many of the most unusual ideas in a pub, where Sir Peter Hendy, the then London Transport Commissioner, was having a drink with some friends. The conversation got around to ‘where’s the most unlikely place you could run a bus service to’ and after much discussion and a few more drinks, the place they decided on was Imber,
The route is registered and licensed by the Bath Bus Company and what began as a lively conversation in a pub, has become a charitable service that provides a once a year link to a lost world.
Imber, the town in question, once had almost 500 residents. But in 1943, the War Office, which owned the surrounding land, evicted all of them so that it could be used to train US troops for D-Day. The villagers were never allowed back, and the road to Imber, which remains part of the Army’s vast Salisbury Plain training grounds, is now closed for all but a few days each year.
The route is largely served by bus enthusiasts and this year Arriva London’s Heritage Fleet had the privilege of being part of the service, in the guise of RMC 1453, its Greenline Routemaster coach, which has also been adopted for historic tours by the National Trust.
The Arriva London crew welcomed aboard enough passengers during the day to contribute £297 to the grand total of over £6,500 which was collected for the two chosen charities, ‘The Friends of Imber Church’ and ‘The Royal British Legion’.
Although surrounded by the military, on a few days of each year, people are allowed back into the village, and the local church, which is not owned by the MoD, holds services.
Arriva London is always committed to supporting good causes and its Heritage Fleet, which is now an established part of London’s moving transport history, is always looking for new ways to get involved.
Other members of the fleet will be on show again in the coming months with RM 2217 in the Open City’s Architour, and the open topper RMC 1464, as a participant in this year’s Lord Mayor’s Show on November 14th.
If you would like to learn more about the Heritage Fleet, and maybe take the opportunity of seeing how one of our historic vehicles could be utilised for your celebration or special event, then contact our Commercial team on 020 8271 3411.
Published : Thu 28th Sep. 2017 - Fri 10th Nov. 2017
Route 175 operates with 16 double-deck vehicles from our Barking garage, with a twelve-minute frequency during the day. Route 103 operates from our Grays garage with 14 buses, with an eight-minute daytime frequency.
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