Irish Transport Heritage Events

Outdoor Events

Saturday 4th March 2017 – Farewell to an old friend

It is hard to believe that it is over 20 years since the first low floor buses entered service with Citybus and Ulsterbus. Initial vehicles were the Volvo B10L with Alexander (Belfast) ‘Ultra’ bodies, vehicles that were not without their problems. For the second intake the companies turned to Wrights who by then had developed the Volvo B10BLE with Wright ‘Renown’ body, a vehicle which was to go on to be one of the more successful of the early low floor designs. A total of 90 were placed in service between 1999 and 2000, split equally between both companies. These proved to be much more successful being a lot more reliable and popular with engineers and crews alike. Over the years there have been many intercompany transfers to balance up fleet requirements. Service cuts in 2015 saw the final Ulsterbus examples withdrawn (sadly before we could arrange a farewell tour) and at the time of writing fewer than 20 remain in traffic with Citybus. New deliveries later this year will spell the end of the type and to mark this milestone a tour is being organised to cover some of the routes on which they would regularly have operated in everyday service. Departure will be at 10.00 from the bus stands at Donegall Square West and the tour will finish in the city centre around 16.30. No advance booking is required for this tour. We are particularly grateful to Citybus for their co-operation in organising this tour.

Saturday 8th April 2017 – Bristol RE ‘RE’vival

The Bristol RE was one of the mainstays of both the Citybus and Ulsterbus fleets until ousted by the low floor generation of vehicles. Quite a number of RE’s survive in preservation and today we intend to use several to visit some of the places you would have expected to encounter RE’s in their service days. Departure will be from the Belfast (Europa Bus Centre) at 09.30 and the tour should finish in the city centre at around 17.00. No advance booking is required for this tour. A big thank you to the respective owners of the vehicles for providing their ‘pride and joys’ for use on this tour.

Saturday 22nd April 2017 – ‘Annual Bus & Coach Rally, Cultra – Ulsterbus at 50 ’

Please note that with our normal last Saturday in April falling on the May Day Bank Holiday Weekend, our annual bus and coach rally will be held one week earlier than usual.

Once again the premiere event in our annual calendar is almost upon us but this year there will be a twist to the normal format.

In April 2017 it will be 50 years since the formation of Ulsterbus and our Rally this year is set to reflect that.

Discussions are ongoing between ourselves, Translink and the Ulster Folk & Transport Museum about the exact format it will take but it is hoped there will be a display of about a dozen vehicles reflecting the types operated over the last half century and that there will be an exhibition of memorabilia in the UFTM gallery area from the last fifty years of the company. If anyone has items that they think would be of interest (especially early publicity material and uniforms) and would be prepared to place them on loan for the exhibition, could they contact Howard Cunningham on 07738941848 or howard at upsilon.org.uk without delay. This exhibition may run for a number of months and items loaned will where possible be housed in glass display cases.

It is also intended to hold a luncheon in the UFTM for former Ulsterbus managers and staff which may well involve many of our usual panel of judges as well as some members of the ITH board.

As a result the vehicle judging will have to be greatly curtailed (hopefully for this year only) but the road run will proceed as usual. Member Noel O’Rawe has once again kindly agreed to organise and run the popular shuttle bus service in the afternoon and a big thankyou to Noel for taking on this task.

In short we are faced with organising a bigger event than usual with fewer than normal staff. At our last winter meeting I put out an appeal for volunteers to help us both in the run up to the day and the day itself. To say that the response was not exactly encouraging is an understatement. I got one offer of help (and thanks to the member concerned) and Howard got no offers at all. We need volunteers for duties both on and off the site and we also need a couple of members to take on specific tasks. We need someone to take on production of the programme (not the vehicle insert), mainly obtaining adverts and liaising with the printers. We also need someone who is prepared to locate trophies from previous years and ensure they are returned to us either before the event or on the day itself.

In short WE NEED YOU to help us out both in the run up to the Rally and on the day itself. If you are in a position to help you can contact me as soon as possible on 0787827070 or willhughes2003 at yahoo.co.uk or Howard on 07738941848 or howard at upsilon.org.uk.

As in previous years, we will have total use of the car park at Cultra and as a result there will be no car parking on site. Usually we have around 50 entrants and if we get that sort of number again this year, we will need all the space we can get. Disabled parking facilities will be made available at the rally site for blue badge holders only (badges must be displayed). Due to the limited space at the Transport Galleries as a result of the “Ulsterbus at 50” display, there will be no parking available at this location for road marshals who are asked to use the Folk Museum car park both before the road run and on their return to the rally site. All other members are requested to park at the Folk Museum car park to conserve space on the site.

Members are reminded that we are the guests of the Ulster Folk & Transport Museum and we are extremely grateful to them for providing us with such excellent facilities. Mark Kennedy of the museum and a number of his staff will be in attendance on the day. Please be mindful that Mark is in overall charge of the site and any instruction issued by him or a member of his staff is to be adhered to without question.

Any member wishing to operate a sales stand on the day will be required to obtain a permit from the committee. Applications should be made in writing and submitted to the Hon. Chairman as soon as possible. Members will not be permitted to sell any foodstuffs or items which are also available in the Transport Gallery shop.

Please remember that this is our best opportunity to promote the Irish Transport Heritage and its aims and activities to both the current Translink management, the public in general and to both the enthusiast movement and the transport industry and that a little help can go a long way in making this event a success.

Friday 28th April – Monday 1st May 2017 – Llandudno Transport Festival 2017

We are once again proposing to attend this popular event. The vehicle we intend using this year will be either Leyland Tiger 1431 or Leyland Leopard 339. Full details and a booking form were circulated with previous mailings.


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A number of members have mentioned that it would be useful to have a list of proposed future events for the forthcoming season to allow them to organise their weekends. Below is a list of proposed ITH events or third party events which we may be attending/considering attending. Please note that this list is PROVISIONAL and subject to change. Details of all forthcoming events will be contained in future mailings.

Saturday 27th May 2017 – Clougher Valley Railway (possibly in conjunction with the RPSI)

A day out looking at what (little) remains of the Clougher Valley railway.

Saturday 24th June 2017 – Sureline 30 Years On

In June 2017 it will be 30 years since the demise of Sureline, Lurgan. Today we will take a look at some of the routes in the Lurgan/Portadown area which they used to operate. Given that in latter years they used to operate former Ulsterbus Leyland Leopards on service work, it seems appropriate that we should use our own Leopard 1591 for this tour.

Saturday 29th July 2017 – Preserved Vehicle Cavalcade

An opportunity to give some of the many preserved buses in Northern Ireland an outing.

Saturday 19th August 2017 – County Down Day Tour and Visit to the Downpatrick & County Down Railway and Museum

A day tour around the Downpatrick, Ardglass and Newcastle areas culminating in a visit to the Downpatrick & County Down Railway and Museum.

Sunday 3rd September 2017 – Possible visit to Glasgow Vintage Vehicle Trust Open Day

We are looking at the possibility of a day trip to Glasgow to sample the GVVT museum and one of their excellent open days.

Saturday 28th - Monday 30th October 2017 – Dublin Port Rally – Dun Laoghaire

This popular event will hopefully be returning this year but with the venue now moved to Dun Laoghaire Port. Day one will be for buses, day two for trucks and buses and day three for cars. It is expected that we will attend both days one and two. For those wishing to overnight, we may be able to arrange something along the lines of what we did for the 2015 event.

Saturday 2nd December 2017 – Dublin Day Tour

A day tour to Dublin for a spot of shopping (or more importantly bus spotting). Hopefully by the date of the event at least some of the extensions to the LUAS system will be operational.

Indoor Events

Thursday 9th March 2017 – “50 Years of Ulsterbus’’

Ulsterbus, one of Northern Irelands main transport providers, celebrates its 50th birthday later this year. It was originally intended to commence operations on 1st January 1967 but a labour dispute saw this put back by a month. In the event further problems saw the commencement date put back once more to 17th April (which this year happens to fall on Easter Monday).

Tonight our member Raymond Bell will take a look back in photographs at many of the vehicle types, both inherited and purchased new, operated by the company over this period. A lot of ground to cover here and we are very grateful to Raymond for taking the time and trouble to put together this presentation which will no doubt be delivered in his own inimitable style.

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A special word of thanks to all who have agreed to give presentations at our meetings, your efforts are very much appreciated.

Indoor meetings are held in McElhinney Room 2, The Pavilion, NICSSA, Stormont Estate, Upper Newtownards Road, Belfast and commence at 19:45.

Admission free – Open to non-members – Retiring collection

The cost of holding our monthly meeting continues to rise. We have looked at moving to alternative venues but the facilities here are good, can be regarded as safe and there is plenty of parking. In order to help cover our monthly overheads, could we respectfully suggest a donation of 2 a head for the retiring collection. We are also considering moving the date of our monthly meetings from the second Thursday of each month to the first Thursday as it would suit one of our regular contributors and the Pavilion better.


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