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 : Wed 18th May. 2016 - Thu 23rd Jun. 2016
Arriva London has recently been awarded the prestigious Platinum Award for Payroll Giving by the Charities Aid Foundation. The award is given to those organisations who have achieved twenty percent or more of their staff giving to charity through a Payroll Giving scheme.
There was a multitude of applications this year and the quality of entries was very high. The selection process for the judges was very difficult, but three Arriva London employees were successful.
At Arriva London we are always proud and amazed at the generosity and enthusiasm of our staff to get involved and give to charity, and none more so than three of our bus drivers, who recently completed a 100 kilometre cycle ride for three cancer charities.
The famous Romney, Hythe and Dymchurch Railway, which has a station at Dungeness, has been using Arriva London’s Heritage Fleet RML 2360 Routemaster bus as a temporary ticket office and shop.
Youth Travel Ambassadors is a London-wide programme delivered in partnership with borough councils and Transport for London to increase active travel, improve behaviour and increase safety for the 11-18 age group.
This weekend’s service was run on former route 95 from Cannon Street to Tooting Broadway and back, passing Arriva’s Brixton garage, by five RTW’s including the very last ever RTW to run in commercial service, RTW 467.