Vintage and Retro at the Isle of Wight Bus Museum

Isle of Wight Bus Museum

My biggest regret when I visited the Isle of Wight in March 2010 was that we were not able to visit the Bus Museum. The museum is only open in the summer months and we had visited the island a mere two weeks before the start of the summer season. I mentioned this to Melissa when we visited last year and was thrilled when she was as keen as I to see the museum.

As you know, I adore vintage cars and trucks but my particular love for classic buses began when I discovered Oompus the omnibus in the Ladybird Classic Tootles the Taxi and Other Rhymes.   

So now that I’ve painted a picture of my state of childlike glee upon entering the museum, I can confirm that disaster soon struck. My camera ran out of battery! I can tell you now, there is no more pitiful a spectacle than a blogger who has run out of battery. Well, I put on a brave face and thanked my lucky stars that I had my iPhone handy.

Now if you’re all safely in your seats, let’s begin our tour of the museum…

KDL885F Bristol RESH6G1968 Bristol RESH6G KDL885F

How retro is that? I love the horizontal lines of the grill.

Interior KDL885F Bristol RESH6G Driver's seat of the 1968 Bristol RESH6G KDL885F

This view makes me so nostalgic. This would have been the first thing we noticed upon entering hundreds of buses. The seat doesn’t look very comfortable though!

ADL459B Bedford SB31964 Bedford SB3 ADL459B

The Isle of Wight was a very popular holiday destination for scores of English tourists every summer and once they'd reached the island by rail or ferry, buses were the primary method of getting around. The various bus routes would take visitors to well known beaches and other attractions and buses are very much part of the island's heritage.

Seat detail ADL459B Bedford SB3Seat detail 1964 Bedford SB3 ADL459B

Somewhere along the way I have definitely grown up because I find the pattern of this material positively gorgeous in a retro, 60s way. Thirty years ago I might have refused to sit on it and would have found it unforgivably old fashioned.

Front grill detail ADL459B Bedford SB3Front grill detail 1964 Bedford SB3 ADL459B

I was fascinated by the intricate designs of the buses, especially in the front grills. Don’t get me wrong, I love modernity (post-modernity?) and modern design but I do think recent designs lack the elegance of the last century.

SDL268 Bristol LD6G1959 Bedford LD6G SDL268

This is a proper old omnibus from 1959. Oh, can you imagine how many island summers this traveller has seen?

Detail FDL927D Brisol MW6GBack detail 1966 Bedford MW6G FDL927D

Only in the 1960s could we have thought that salmon / brown was an appropriate colour for a bus. Come to think of it, I'm sure I remember salmon coloured linoleum in one of our kitchens.

DL5084 Daimler CK1919 Daimler CK DL5084 (body 1922)

This was one of my favourite exhibits, tucked away at the back of the garage. I guess this vehicle is just too old and too damaged to restore and it is quite a reminder of the work that has gone into restoring the buses in the museum. You can see the state of the engine below. Part of me hopes that someone does take this restoration project on board but another part of me likes to see it in its original form.

DL5084 Daimler CK Front Chassis DetailFront Chassis detail 1919 Daimler CK DL5084 (body 1922)

ODL400 Bedford SBGFront grill 1957 Bedford SBG ODL400

You may have noticed that most of the buses here are Bedford buses. Bedford was a subsidiary of Vauxhall Motors and was founded in 1930. They made everything from trucks and buses to ambulances and army vehicles and were sold right around the world. The Bedford brand went defunct in 1986 but their spirit lives on in many Vauxhall and Opel designs.

My first two cars were Opel Corsas and my first car was in a similar shade of turquoise blue to this Bedford bus. The only time she ever broke down on me was on that first day home from the dealer when I hadn’t quite figured out how to put petrol in her yet.

Back detail ODL400 Bedford SBGBack detail 1957 Bedford SBG ODL400

FDL676 Bedford OBFront grill 1949 Bedford OBG FDL676

Service 42, Isle of WightVintage service 42 sign

VDL264K Bedford YRQFront grill 1972 Bedford YRQ VDL264K

Vintage Buses at Isle of Wight Bus MuseumVintage Buses at Isle of Wight Bus Museum

Front Detail SDL268 Bristol LD6GFront Detail 1959 Bristol LD6G SDL268

Vintage signs at Isle of Wight Bus MuseumVintage signs at Isle of Wight Bus Museum

I was really impressed by the Isle of Wight Bus Museum and would absolutely recommend a visit if you are ever on the island. Both children and adults are encouraged to climb into the buses and explore them and you are also more than welcome to move props around to ensure the best photographic opportunities. We felt really relaxed during our visit and felt welcome to take our time. Definitely stop by the gift shop on your way out! I bought a gorgeous omnibus model that now has pride of place in my display cabinet.

The Isle of Wight Bus Museum
The Quay
Newport Harbour
Isle of Wight
PO30 2EF

Admission: Adults £4.00, Children 5-15 years £2.50. Concessions and family tickets available.

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