The Imber Bus

Yesterday, the few passers-by on the little byway along the edge of the downs may have wondered why a couple of people were waiting in the middle of nowhere – a nowhere with the unlikely name of Brazen Bottom.

They may have been even more gobsmacked when the reason for the wait appeared.


What’s that arriving? Surely not! Yes, it’s an old London bus – a Routemaster.  August 3rd 2013 was Imber bus day, the day a group of bus enthusiasts bring their old buses (all Routemasters) to mid Wiltshire to operate an intensive service based around Imber.

If you don’t know of Imber it’ll be enough to say that it was a village given up by residents to aid the war effort towards the end of World War II. Villagers were given to understand that they’d get their village back when the emergency was over, but of course they never did. After a long campaign, which included peaceful civil disobedience, it was arranged that the roads through Imber would be open from time to time. Old villagers could thus visit the graves of loved ones or even join them in the ground. The village itself was pretty well obliterated – all bar the church which has now been restored.

It is during the summer opening that service 23A is run linking, in particular, Warminster which has a rail station with the lost village, but also allowing people to travel to unlikely sounding places. Apart from Brazen Bottom the buses take in ‘New Zealand’ and this year also got to The Lavingtons, Tilshead and Chitterne. A clever timetable operates with a place called Gore Cross acting as the interchange stop.

This could have been ‘My life in Tickets’ for we have our day rover bus pass.


And that looked like an innovation for this year – not only the traditional Routemasters, but also a brand new Routemaster – of quite a different design – but still very eye-catching.

This is a day by bus enthusiasts for bus enthusiasts. It means that from time to time buses stop alongside one another for photos. We mere locals can enjoy all the fun.


The new and the old together.

Bus enthusiasts get to all sorts of unlikely places to snap photos of their favourite vehicles.


Is the edge of a corn field a usual place for a London bus photographer?

Others seek a higher level.



A couple of buses above Warminster.


At Imber you wait a year or more for a bus and then there are four all at once.


At every stop the enthusiasts get off the bus to take a photo. This is at Chitterne.


And here’s what they were all after.


One of the buses, carrying the number RM5 was a truly old bus. There had been four prototypes which meant RM 5 was the first of the long production run. That particular bus is well over 50 years old.


A highlight of the day was being the third bus in a convoy on a rutted army track near Gore Cross.

A day like this would not be complete without some time in Imber where St Giles’ Church still stands.


A Grand Day out – and by the way, I am not all that much of a bus nerd but when the opportunity is local, well, you have to take it.


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2 Responses to “The Imber Bus”

  1. Kongo Says:

    Great story and I love the pic of the old bus on the one lane road!

    • locksands Says:

      It’s a great event and it happens every year at the moment – at rather variable times depending on when the army open the ranges.

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