Ticket to ride… into the past

Ticket to ride… into the past

A new vintage bus tour is set to turn back the clock on Sunderland’s award winning sea front this summer.

Every weekend during the summer holidays, buses from decades ago will be returning to their former haunts to provide visitors with a free journey into the past.

Announced today, the tour will pick up passengers from the famous ‘tram shelter’ on Seaburn sea front hourly during the day and take in a circular route past Roker Pier, Wearmouth Bridge and Keel Square before returning them to Seaburn sea front.

The new tour is the brainchild of the North East Bus Preservation Trust, a volunteer run charity dedicated to preserving and showcasing vintage buses from the region. It is hoped that the tour will provide an added attraction for visitors to Sunderland’s award winning sea front as well as the chance for the buses to stretch their wheels.

Chairman of the NEBPT, Peter Elliott, said: “We’ve been looking for a way to bring our important collection of vintage vehicles to a wider audience and Sunderland sea front seems to be the perfect location. We’re looking forward to welcoming youngsters, who’ve perhaps never seen a bus as old, and people who remember riding on these vehicles when they were younger.

“We already host a vintage bus event in Seaburn each year and this seemed like a very logical next step. The appeal of riding on vintage vehicles has already been shown to work well in other seaside areas. We also know that transport enthusiasts will travel long distances to ride on a piece of history so we’d like to think local business might see benefits too.”

Vehicles that would have been common in decades stretching back to the 1960s will be motoring their way along the seafront once more. It is planned to feature different vehicles from the NEBPT collection on the route. The collection includes a rare 1964 Sunderland Corporation Atkinson Alpha, a 1977 Sunderland Daimler Fleetline and a 1964 Bristol MW coach. Visitors will be able to ride the buses on the circular tour for free during this first trial year of operation with no booking required on a first come first seated basis.

The city’s destination brand See it Do it Sunderland, will help to market the attraction to visitors and provide information for passengers. Passengers will be able to savour the coastal views that brought world famous artist LS Lowry back to Seaburn year after year.

Sunderland City Council portfolio holder for culture, Cllr John Kelly, said: “This is a fantastic idea from the North East Bus Preservation Trust. It will bring a new attraction to the sea front and give visitors the opportunity to sample some of our regions heritage while enjoying coastal views. I hope it will see new visitors attracted to the city and also encourage some existing visitors to stay longer.”

“This is exactly the sort of activity which our sea front will benefit from, we’d love to hear from other groups, particularly in the voluntary and community sector who might have similar ideas.”

The route will also begin within sight of both of Sunderland’s Blue Flag award winning beaches, Roker and Seaburn, and close to many local businesses.

Ed Tutty, recently appointed Chair of the Sunderland Seafront Traders Association hopes the old buses bring back some of the people who remember them first time around: “The group always put on a successful show during the summer which brings lots of tourists down to the sea front. This expansion of their offer will not only create a great tourist attraction but also increase our footfall across the whole of the Seaburn and Roker area.  We are already looking forward to it.”

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Sunderland will welcome over 50 Tall Ships for the first time, when we are the start port for the 2018 races, from 11-14 July.

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