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The Great Western Railway Bus Service 1903

“History was made when GWR hit upon running a bus service from Helston to The Lizard. GWR had plans drawn up to extend the railway from Helston to The Lizard. The route would have been across Culdrose to near St Martin, then taken a route to Penhale for Mullion and onto The Lizard, costing £85,000. The motor vehicle was in existence by then, so it was decided to purchase two Milnes Daimler Wagonettes; these were powered by a 20hp petrol engine with a top speed of 14mph on solid rubber tyres. The service commenced on 17th August 1903 with three trips from Helston to The Lizard each way, with intermediate stops at Cury Cross Lanes, Penhale, Ruan Minor known as Tammy Dawes and on to The Lizard, the fare being 1s-6d (today 71/2p) for a single journey.

It was during 1978 on the 75th anniversary, a celebration run was organised to commemorate the only Bus service run by a railway company. This was organised by Helston Town Council, The Western National Bus Company, Wincanton Garages and Landewednack Parish Council. This carried on every year afterwards on August Bank Holiday Sunday. It was organized by the Cornwall Vintage Vehicle Society and became known as the Les Vincent run but unfortunately this was on the decline with just a few cars doing the run.

With my good friend Ken Bright and his wife and my wife, we offered to help Les by organising this end; by then Ken and myself were in the vintage vehicle clubs, Ken had an ex library van and myself an Austin Gypsy Fire Engine. Les almost bit our hands off by asking us to take it on completely for which we did and we organised this for the following 21 years and we retired on the centenary celebration. Today it is organised by the Cornwall Vintage Vehicle Society.

After a break of a few years, I found myself getting involved again, although it’s not the same; there are no bands to entertain today, as they cost too much and charitable stalls are most welcome to take part. All they earn is theirs but we could do with a few more – it keeps the ladies interested!

This photo is a copy of the original timetable from 1903 (click to enlarge)

GWR buses in front of Hill’s Hotel

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