Elizabeth was completely refurbished and rebuilt recently, returning to Crosville in autumn 2017. She has a new custom-built 30 seat body, part of which can be removed to reveal her as she would have appeared when new as a dropside waggon.
For many years Elizabeth was a tourist attraction in her own right in the seaside town of Whitby, Yorkshire and moved to Weston-super-Mare in 2015 to begin a new chapter in her colourful history.
Originally built as a steam waggon to carry commercial freight, she now carries a custom built 30-seat bus body and we plan to operate her on selected days in Weston. Full details of her appearances will appear on this website.
A steam bus seems a strange choice of vehicle for Crosville to acquire but there are good reasons for the purchase. Jonathan Jones-Pratt, our Managing Director, already has experience with steam propulsion and already owns two mainline steam locomotives and two traction engines. He was keen to acquire Elizabeth, not only because she combines his twin passions for steam and for buses, but also because there was a possibility that she would have been sold to an overseas buyer when her previous operators were unable to continue running her. Finally, there is no doubt that Elizabeth the Steam Bus will become a very popular feature of Weston-super-Mare, adding to its already extensive attractions.
Ultimately, a training programme will be developed to upskill existing Crosville drivers to fire and drive Elizabeth. All crews will be signed off through a strict competence process which will include a final sign off check carried out by Merv Hebditch, who has been appointed due to his skills as Chief Traction Inspector on the West Somerset Railway.
We are also keen to build a supporters' group to follow 'Lizzie' and are looking for volunteers to join our team to help keep her going. All kinds of activities will be available, from cleaning through to footplate crew.
GT2827 was built in 1931 at the Shrewsbury factory of the Sentinel Waggon Works Ltd as a flatbed waggon and delivered to the Cement Marketing Company. Later converted for use as a tar sprayer, she ended her commercial days in a scrapyard in the 1960s but was fortunately rescued for preservation. Eventually she was converted for passenger use by the Northern Star Motor Carriage Company who built a new body out of mahogany and white ash but, before she was allowed to carry fare-paying passengers, she had to pass a 35° tilt test and required an amendment to the Road Traffic Act due to the exhaust being emitted from the front of the vehicle.
In this format she joined the Whitby Steam Bus and Charabanc Company in 2006 and operated a fare-paying service until late 2014.
Elizabeth is powered by a 2-cylinder double-acting steam engine, mounted underneath the chassis. Steam is provided by a vertical boiler inside the cab. The boiler is coal-fired but the cab is separate from the passenger saloon so that dust and fumes are kept to a minimum.
The rear wheels are chain driven and the bus has two gears, one for normal road use and a low gear for use on steep hills or when manoeuvring. There are 10 pneumatic tyres, a fairly recent improvement when introduced in 1931 when most steam waggons of the era were still fitted with solid rubber tyres.
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