We have now come to the end of 123's first year of operation which on the whole has been a very successful year for the Group. Other than problems with the flywheel, diesel getting into the oil and a dodgy fuel pump, 123 has run fine all year and has taken us on some pretty lengthy trips to Scarborough and Kidderminster as well as other destinations not so far from home.

Much work was done over the winter of 1996 / 97 to prepare 123 for a return to the road. Luckily, some members of the Group are mechanically minded and love getting their hands dirty. It won't be long before they know all there is to know about a Leyland 680 engine.

Other than local test runs, the first real outing for 123 was on 22nd April when 123 made the short journey to Hillsborough in Sheffield carrying Group members and friends to watch Chesterfield F.C. play Middlesborough in the F.A. cup semi-final replay.

The programme of uses for 123 for the remainder of the year was then as follows :-

Saturday 3rd May - A birthday celebration this evening and 123 was taken into the Derbyshire Peak District to the village of Great Longstone and the Crispin pub. We all enjoyed a meal and a pint or two (or three or four in some cases!). This evening was also a celebration for getting the bus on the road.

Sunday 18th May - Our first rally of the season when we took part in the Leicester Mercury Historic Vehicle Rally at Abbey Park in Leicester.

Tuesday 20th May - We joined the former Chesterfield Leyland Panther (ENU 93H) at Crich Tramway Museum where the opportunity was taken to take photographs of five Chesterfield vehicles dating from the late 1800's to the present day. Horse tram number 8 was joined by electric tram number 7 which has just been restored by the Tramway Museum. As well as ourselves and the Panther, Stagecoach East Midland provided one of the new Alexander bodied Volvo Olympians which entered service in Chesterfield at the end of 1996.

Saturday 24th May - Another birthday outing, this time my own albeit a week late! We took 123 out into the Hope Valley to Castleton for an evening at the Bulls Head where numerous pints of Robinsons Best Bitter and Hartleys XB were consumed by all members of the party, except the poor driver who had to make do with Coke.

Sunday 1st June - We set off on the scenic drive to Stoke-on-Trent via. Matlock and Ashbourne. Upon arrival at Burslem we started our search for Trubshaw Cross playing fields, the site of the Potteries Vehicle Rally. At the end of the event, we headed north into Cheshire and to the chippy in Macclesfield before returning home via. the Cat & Fiddle road, not forgetting to call at the Cat & Fiddle Inn, the highest pub in the area which is on the Cheshire / Derbyshire border.

Sunday 8th June - We all went to the seaside for the day, quite possibly the first time 123 has seen the sea. Bridlington was our destination via. Hull from where we took part in the road run. There were 22 people on board the bus as some of the members brought along their families for the day.

Sunday 22nd June - Another birthday, this time the 11th birthday of one of the Group members daughters. 123 was taken to Chatsworth House where the children were taken around the farm and also to the Adventure Playground. There then followed a birthday party on board the bus.

Saturday 28th June - And yet another birthday! The seaside again for today and another east coast resort was our destination, this time Skegness. Many group members spent the day riding on Road Car's Atlanteans.

Sunday 6th July - Transperience Rally, Bradford. The transport discovery park in West Yorkshire.

Sunday 13th July - Midland Railway Centre, Butterley. The bus rally with no buses! We were one of only four buses present and so it was just as well that the majority of us also have an interest in railways. Unfortunately there were only steam locomotives running but we took the opportunity to wonder around the MRC's collection of diesel locomotives.

Sunday 20th July - Another day at the seaside, this time Blackpool and on board TM Travel's Alexander bodied Fleetline WDS 112V, formerly registered HSD 73V and owned by Clydeside. The journey out was via. the Snake Pass (If you've ever been over this road then you'll know where the name comes from) and Manchester. The bus was parked at the Pleasure Beach Coach Park for the day. We returned via. Stockport and Tideswell Moor.

Friday 25th July - To celebrate the Group's first anniversary, we took 123 out to the Waterloo at Taddington near Buxton for a meal. Once again large amounts of Robinsons Best were consumed whilst waiting (and waiting.... and waiting...) for out meal.

Sunday 27th July - It was found the day before that diesel had been getting into 123's engine oil and so it was not fit to be taken out. Instead we joined Group member Dennis Vickers, who is a partner of Thompson Travel, on his former Lothian Leyland Leopard, MSF 125P, to Sandtoft Trolleybus Museum.

Sunday 10th August - With all problems now fixed, 123 took to the road again, this time to Huddersfield. A very worthwhile trip as we returned with our only trophy to date for the best bus in its class (there were only two buses entered and the other didn't actually show up!)

Wednesday 20th August - An evening tour covering some routes around Chesterfield that were once worked by 123.

Saturday 23rd August - 123 made another appearance in Chesterfield operating a free shuttle service from the Town Centre to the RSPCA shelter at Spital for the RSPCA Summer Gala.

Sunday 24th August - 123 made a return visit to Crich Tramway Museum for the historic vehicle rally that is held there every August Bank Holiday. We were allowed onto the tramway for a short while and photographs were taken with the trams, especially ex. Chesterfield No. 7. We then spent the evening in the Cliff Inn in Crich village before spending the night sleeping on the bus. In the morning we drove down the tramway once again and were interviewed live on air by BBC Radio Derby.

Saturday 23rd August - Today was the wedding day of the Group chairman Steve Rush. 123 was suitably decorated and picked up the wedding party to take them to North Wingfield Church. After the wedding ceremony, guests were taken to the Barking Badger in Chesterfield Town Centre where the reception was held.

Sunday 31st August - One of our longest trips to date was to Scarborough. The purpose of this trip was to ride on former Chesterfield Fleetline 155 (UWA 155S) which is now operated by Shoreline Suncruisers. It was brought out especially for us onto the normally open top operated circular service to the Town Centre. 155 has now been converted to open top and will be ready for use when the new season starts in Scarborough in March.

Sunday 7th September - Manchester, Heaton Park. The first port of call was the Manchester Museum of Transport at Boyle Street where the road run started from. Some Group members transferred to the preserved former Merseybus Atlantean, DKC 305L for the road run to Heaton Park.

Monday 8th September - We joined Group member Dennis Vickers on his former Lothian Leyland Leopard MSF 125P for an evening farewell tour. The Leopard was about to be withdrawn after many years service with Thompson Travel and Ladyline before them. We headed from Chesterfield to Batemoor south of Sheffield to travel on the full route of service 291 from Batemoor via. Dronfield to Bakewell. MSF 125P was finally withdrawn around three weeks after this trip.

Sunday 14th September - Today was the day of our local rally at Meadowhall shopping centre in Sheffield. As well as 123, we also took along TM Travel's former Chesterfield Fleetline 159 (UWA 159S). Also present at the rally was another member of the TM fleet, former Preston / Sheffield Omnibus East Lancs bodied Atlantean CRN 124S. We took 123 and 159 to Chesterfield Town Hall from where we followed the former Chesterfield Leyland Panther (ENU 93H) to Meadowhall via. Dronfield and Sheffield City Centre. Both 123 and 159 took part in the free shuttle service that operated from Meadowhall to the Sheffield Bus Museum at the former Tinsley tram sheds. We headed back down the M1 with 159 following the slightly faster 123. The opportunity was then taken to take both 123 and 159 to the yard where 124 is kept to pose all three buses together.

Wednesday 24th September - The Group were visited today by Mr. Paul Wallace, the Operations Director of Guide Friday from Stratford-upon-Avon. He was taken on a tour of the Peak District and visited Bakewell, Haddon Hall, Chatsworth House, Eyam (the Plaque Village) and Monsal Head. Guide Friday are considering a tour of the area as part of their programme of open top bus tours for 1998.

Saturday 27th September - Yet another birthday outing, a bit of a pub crawl this time. We travelled out through the Peak District to Chapel-en-le-Frith where we visited the New Inn. Back then to the Wanted Inn at Sparrowpit before finishing at the Three Stags Heads in the middle of nowhere at Wardlow Mires. Certain Group members were not happy about the sign next to the bar which read "Do not ask for draught lager as a smack in the mouth often offends"!

Wednesday 8th October - 123 was taken to Humberstone near Grimsby to collect windows and various other parts that were removed from 155 (UWA 155S) when it was converted to open top. We are very grateful to Shoreline Suncruisers of Scarborough for donating these to the Group.

Saturday 11th October - We made an early start this morning and set off for the National Exhibition Centre to visit Coach & Bus 1997. We then headed for Birmingham City Centre and towards Kidderminster on the A456. The evening was spent with 123 parked at Kidderminster Station and Group members either caught the "Fish & Chip" special train to Bridgnorth or spent the evening in the nearest pub watching football.

Sunday 12th October - Today was spent at Kidderminster at the Severn Valley Railways Road & Rail rally. A very enjoyable day and a big success for the sales stall. A free bus service ran all day between Kidderminster & Bewdley stations as well as the park & ride shuttle service. We left just after 5 and headed to Bewdley to visit the West Midland Preservation Group premises. The route home was via. Wolverhampton and Derby.

Wednesday 22nd October - 123 was taken to the Barnsley Scrap Yards to pick up parts from three other Chesterfield Fleetlines in the yard of PVS at Carlton. Seats, panels, lights and any other bits and pieces that could be of use were removed from 146 (NKY 146R) and 153 & 157 (UWA 153 / 7S).

Sunday 26th October - Our last rally of the season was the Nocturnal Heart of the Pennines rally based on the Piece Hall at Halifax. We arrived just before noon and during the day 123 made a few trips on the free service that operates to the Stone Chair Inn. We were packed full on the first few trips that we made up the hill. Before our 19:30 departure for home we were interviewed by Calder Television who were told about the Group and our two Fleetlines.

Sunday 2nd November - Our second annual trip to the Blackpool Illuminations took place today when TM Travels ex. Chesterfield Fleetline UWA 159S took 58 passengers to the seaside for the day. Journey time was around 4½ hours from Staveley including a 30 minute stop and much running around locally to various pick up points. We parked at Blackpool Pleasure Beach for the day before leaving at 5pm for a drive through the lights. It was gone midnight when 159 returned to Staveley.

Sunday 9th November - Just a short run out this morning to visit the 1655 Preservation Group in Eckington. It was an opportunity for us to see the newly preserved former South Yorkshire Atlantean XWG 655T.

Saturday 13th December - A Christmas shopping trip to York was run today aboard TM Travel Fleetline UWA 159S. From the last pickup at Dronfield Woodhouse, journey time to York was just 2 hours via. Doncaster and Selby.

Sunday 14th December - We visited the SELNEC Preservation Group at Leigh today to view their collection of Manchester area Atlanteans and Fleetlines. Both the outward and return journeys were via. the Snake Pass and a stop was made at the Snake Inn on the way home. This caused much interest amongst the staff as they had never had a double decker in the car park before.

Sunday 21st December - After the Successful "Farewell to the Fleetline" tour of 1996, which was organized in conjunction with Stagecoach East Midland, we ran the "Return of the Fleetline" tour using TM Travel's UWA 159S and our own 123. 159 visited Sheffield, New Whittington, Holymoorside, Hillstown and Staveley before we switched to 123 to travel to Ashgate, Walton, Broomfield and again to Sheffield. A break was taken for lunch when we had dinner at the Lockoford Inn at Tapton.

Tuesday 23rd December - 123 was used this evening for a trip to Tideswell & Castleton to celebrate a birthday.


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