Vintage former Exeter City Transport bus No 17 made a 300-mile round trip from Chichester to return to its old stomping ground over the weekend.
The immaculately preserved 1948 PD1 double-decker took pride of place at the annual Twilight Running event on Sunday.
This popular date in the historical transport diary, now in its third year, centred on Exeter bus station, courtesy of Stagecoach.
It was organised by bus enthusiast Daniel Shears. He brought along two buses – a former Exeter City 1956 Guy Arab and an ex-Bournemouth City Transport 1950 PD2; and a Southern National 1949 Bristol L-Type half-cab coach.
Daniel was delighted that No 17 made the journey to join in this nostalgic celebration of public transport.
That the 'visitor' was able to once more visit its old routes was due to owner Tim Robbins' hard work in bringing it back to pristine condition, and his desire to see it return to the streets of Exeter.
The vehicle was withdrawn from Exeter City Transport in 1971 when it was snapped up for preservation, with Tim buying it in 1995.
"I restored the exterior and brought it down to Winkleigh Open Day in 2000. I have been doing the interior since then and finished it in 2010 – it has taken 15 years to fully restore it," says Tim.
During restoration Tim had the adverts on the side carefully sanded away so each layer was clearly revealed.
"We went right back through the history of the vehicle. There were seven layers – it was like industrial archaeology," he says.
Tim fell in love with the bus because it was familiar to him as a child.
"My grandfather used to run the Port House Laundry in Alphington Street where the leisure centre is now.
"I was born in Exeter and we came back for holidays. I'd ride these buses to the city centre," he says.
The PD1 is a beautifully restored vehicle – but she likes to travel at a sedate pace.
"The bus does 38mph flat out up hill and down dale – so you can't rush things," said Tim, who left Chichester at 9.30am for the 3pm Twilight start.
For the event No 17 became part of a total fleet of eight double deckers and single deckers re-enacting former routes across the city to the delight of enthusiasts and members of the public.
An organised timetable ran from 3pm to 7pm darkness gradually descending as these vintage buses headed out into the night. The vehicles attracted admiring glances as they trundled through the centre of the city with their distinctive sounds and mellow lighting contrasting with the neon-lit modern public transport. Rides were free but passengers were invited to make a donation to the Devon Air Ambulance.
There were slightly fewer representatives of Exeter City Transport than previous years but numbers were made up by Crossville Motors of Weston-super-Mare coming to the rescue with an ex-Hants and Dorset Bristol Lodekka double-decker and an ex-Eastern Scottish single-decker Leyland Cub.
"I would have liked to have had brought more Exeter vehicles along but I have three off the road at the moment," says Daniel, who runs the Winkleigh-based West of England Transport Collection.
"It was a great day and everyone got to have a ride on the buses they wanted to."