Veteran bus on holiday of lifetime

The former Southern Vectis bus Tadpoles
The former Southern Vectis bus Tadpoles
The new trackbed for the Horndean Light Railway looking south across the bridge over Southwick Hill Road, Cosham, about 1903.

NOSTALGIA: Ready and waiting, the shiny new tracks climbing Portsdown Hill

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The 54-year-old bus pictured here will be passing through Portsmouth tomorrow having been on the Summer Holiday of a lifetime.

It once spent 20 years carrying tourists around the Isle of Wight for island bus firm Southern Vectis and is a museum piece.

But it left the island in April 2011 to take 11 people aged 19 to 32, of five nationalities, on a three-week tour of Europe followed by a hippy trail journey from London to Kathmandu in Nepal.

It was an adventure the 1958 Bristol Lodekka knew well because it made 20 epic transcontinental trips to Nepal before being retired to the Isle of Wight Bus Museum at Newport Quay.

Now named Tadpoles, the vehicle was one of 80 veteran buses run by Top Deck Travel in the 1970s. They were converted with bunks and kitchens to undertake the marathon 5,000-mile journeys into Asia.

Richard Newman, of Dysart Avenue, Cosham, the museum’s membership secretary, says Tadpoles emerged from its most recent trip to Nepal relatively unscathed.

‘Although there were radiator problems in Istanbul and again in a remote Indian village, it successfully completed its marathon adventure.

‘Highlights for the passengers included a Christmas meal in Kathmandu after climbing the Najarkot peak in the Himalaya and finding a photograph of their bus on a previous trip in Gallipoli’s Boomerang Bar.’

Tadpoles is booked on the 1pm ferry from Portsmouth to Fishbourne tomorrow.

Summer Holiday was a 1963 film starring Cliff Richard in which he drove a London bus across Europe.