Meetings

Our meetings are held in the Billingham Social Club, in Chapel Row, just north of The Smiths Arms on Billingham Green, starting at 1930hrs. Stagecoach service 36 is the nearest bus service, alighting at the Billingham Green stop. Service 52 is a realistic alternative, alighting at Billingham Bank Top on South View or at Billingham Stores on Belasis Avenue. Car parking is available in the Bullgarth Car Park, opposite the end of Chapel Row. Our monthly meetings are open to non-members who are most welcome to join us.

Tuesday 27th February 2024 – Our Annual General Meeting to receive The Trustees Annual Reports and allow members the opportunity to ask questions of the Trustees or to make suggestions regarding the operation of our Group. Our Charitable Constitution requires three Trustees to retire by rotation each year. This year Adrian Beadnell, Liz Hall and Bill Woodward retire on rotation. Additionally, Andy Rasmussen, who was recently co-opted as a Trustee is required to have his appointment ratified by vote. Once the “business” part of the meeting finishes, Chris Hall will present a slide show.

Tuesday 26th March 2024 – Matthew Hill will talk to us about A Year In The Life Of The Northern National Restoration Group. He will look at the NNRG’s iconic premises at Philadelphia and their vehicles, as well as giving a peek at what goes on behind closed doors!

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Previous Meetings

Our AGM was held on-line on Tuesday 22nd February 2022, to receive The Trustees Annual Reports to the meeting and allow members the opportunity to ask questions of the Trustees or to make suggestions regarding the operation of our Group.

Our Charitable Constitution requires three Trustees to retire by rotation each year. This year Michael Dowling, Adam Nicholson and Mark Wilson retired on rotation and, there being no other applications from members, the three retiring Trustees were re-elected as Trustees for a further three-year term.

Once the “business” part of the meeting had concluded, Mark Wilson presented a series of photographs of our seven buses, mostly of their lives before preservation.

What may well be our final wholly on-line meeting was held on Tuesday 29th March 2022. Paul Bateson mined his extensive photo collection to enthral us with an illustrated, on-line talk entitled “Buses of the North East 1957 – 1968”, which actually extended into the ’70s. An impressive number of photos presented in the normal time frame and utterly fascinating in their breadth and variety.

We restarted our face-to-face meetings on Tuesday, 26th April 2022. A relaxed first session after Covid (?) was entertained by Chris Hall presenting another of his miscellanies, unusually for Chris, featuring only buses.

Our most recent monthly meeting was on Tuesday 31st May 2022. The speaker was again Chris Hall, this time presenting another of his trademark provocative slide shows. The bare title of “Bus Spotting in Newcastle” hid wide ranging subject matter with a number of surprises included.

Chris Hall completed his hat-trick on Tuesday 28th June 2022, this time with an offering entitled “Chasing the 500s”. He gave us a typically entertaining and enjoyable session, largely in line with the title!

With Chris Mills unable to return to the Northeast in time because of problems on the East Coast Main Line, our intended tour of West Durham operating centres on Tuesday 26th July 2022 was replaced by a relaxed run out on Rob Hughes’ Strathtay Leopard to Seaton Carew, for fish and chips or ice cream according to individual choice. Thereafter we travelled across to The Headland for a photoshoot before returning to Stockton via the 36 route to Billingham and then the 34 route to Middlesbrough.

We returned to the Malleable Club for our meeting on Tuesday 30th August 2022,. In view of the unfortunate enforced postponement of his planned “tour and talk” about West Durham Independent operators, Chris Mills instead presented a fascinating and wide ranging talk, looking at independent operators across the whole of the Northeast. Except for West Durham, of course!

Ian McInnes treated our monthly meeting on Tuesday 27th September 2022, to a masterful, entertaining and informative tour around the country, looking at the everyday scene in 1988/1989. A very interesting time with a huge variety of bus types still running and an explosion of new liveries belonging to post de-regulation operators and the established companies also refreshing their images! Between those attending in person and our on-line audience, over 40 of us enjoyed a superb presentation.

Our meeting on Tuesday 25th October 2022 was thoroughly entertained by Graeme Scarlett’s “Restorations at The Eden” presentation. Mixing photos and video clips, Graeme surprised many with the extent of the work required on Leopard 14 and also showed us progress with the Lowlander and VUP 328. His two Routemasters, PFN858 and possibly less iconic mini and midibuses also featured. Graeme also covered his varied fleet of HA vans and it was interesting to also see a Chevanne, his Marina vans and learn of plans featuring a BMC “angle-cab” and a Commer walk-through. Even the West Auckland Depot is a restoration project of sorts! Very generous recognition of the role of his team, and of Steve Foster, in all of this. Our thanks to Graeme for an excellent evening.

Tuesday 29th November 2022 – One of our younger members, Stephen Bailes offered a maiden presentation, Teesside In The Last Five Years, demonstrating the amount of interest there is in the modern bus scene. Stephen’s talk was illustrated by a mix of high quality “record” shots and some absolutely stunning, picturesque photos and provoked a deal of two-way discussion.

Tuesday 13th December 2022 – Our traditional pre-Christmas Meeting resumed and included seasonal light refreshments and a not too serious Review of Our Year.

Tuesday 31st January 2023 – Selected from photos of his recent travels around the country, ranging from London to Edinburgh and Hull to Blackpool, Andrew Rasmussen’s talk included much that would be expected of the modern day-to-day industry including a plethora of liveries and a number of buses illustrating alternative sources of motive power. Andy also highlighted the more modern, DDA-compliant coaches which are increasingly replacing older service buses on Rail Replacement work. However, a number of older buses also featured which are still part of the everyday scene. These included Routemasters, NHS “mobile clinics”, open-top tour buses and even Beamish Museum’s Leyland Cub which, although dating from 1932, has been adapted to be possibly the oldest accessible bus in operation. Older buses also featured to illustrate topical items such as the recent sad demise of Scarlet Band and the end of Go North East’s service X85. A fascinating presentation that went well beyond what the “Modern Era” title suggested and which delivered in spades!

Tuesday 28th February 2023 – Sadly, our usual room at The Malleable Club was not available due to refurbishment. As an alternative, we had a little local runaround, covering most of Stagecoach Service 61 and all of the Stockton “end” of Service 38. A “quick” refreshment stop was provided en route in Norton High Street, although only a few took advantage. We used 106, which performed well but gave a slightly unwelcome reminder of how uncomfortable bus journeys could be on cold evenings!

Tuesday 28th March 2023 – Our AGM and Election of Trustees was completed with John Atkin and Chris Hall re-elected as Trustees. Sadly Jerry Glover chose not to seek re-election. After the AGM business was completed, Chris Hall’s “After The Battle” talk to our March meeting focussed on former military vehicles used as recovery tenders by bus companies! Starting with pretty brutal, “used as is” Ford Canadas, Whites and Diamond T’s, Chris moved on to the later AEC Matadors which were so popular, usually with home-made bodies and often with bus-style front ends. This fascinating talk took us up to adapted former buses including Northern’s well known “single deck” Atlantean, 9034PT, complete with Starsky stripe. The talk came up to date with shots of the contracted in wreckers used almost universally these days, including a look at 99 being prepared for her journey thus, back to Teesside from Derby.

Tuesday 25th April 2023 – Martin Green treated our April meeting to reminiscences of East Riding Buses in the ’60’s and ’70s. We were given a thorough overview of Hull Corporation and East Yorkshire in that period and of a selection of independent operators. The scope took in Scarborough and a wonderful selection of visiting excursion and tour” buses and coaches. Martin also shared some reminiscences and memorabilia from his student vac job as a conductor with East Yorkshire Motor Services in the summer of 1965. A few tales of the escapades of the characters who populated the industry in those days but also an insight into a singularly inhumane ticketing system for both conductors and cash office staff, that probably wouldn’t get past the auditors these days!

Tuesday 30th May 2023 – Chris Hall – North Eastern Railways – A Personal Perspective. Chris Hall treated our May meeting to a slide show which certainly lived up to its title. Starting shortly before the Deltics were ousted from their top-link place on the ECML, Chris provided reminders of what was once the everyday to many of us, including some splendid examples of the familiar “Gateshead gloss”. However, given the longevity expected of railway hardware, much of the subject matter would also be familiar to younger enthusiasts. A particular “personal reflection” was of the tender that was visible for many years from the Wilderness Road and which has survived elsewhere to this day. Chris took advantage of the “personal” aspect of his title to include the Pennsylvania Railroad GG1s (which ran in the Northeast USA!) and also the Bowesfield-built New South Wales Class 46s with their local Metro-Vick connection.

Tuesday 27th June 2023 – To make the most of the light nights, for our June meeting we had an evening out to the Bishop Auckland area. We took our Olympian M223SVN to The Eden Garage in West Auckland where we met up with two of our members Graeme Scarlett and Chris Mills. From there we boarded Graeme’s Leyland Leopard PPT446P for a circular tour stopping off at the sites of the former depots of a number of West Durham independent operators – including Stephenson’s, Anderson Bros. (Blue Belle), Lockey’s and OK.Thank you to Chris for organising the tour and to Graeme for providing the transport.

Tuesday 25th July 2023 – Evening trip – we were lucky that our Tuesday evening trip out with 99 found gaps in the rain for our photo stop at Port Clarence and the food stop at Seaton Carew. Hopefully everybody enjoyed a relaxed run out via the north bank, Saltholme, York Road, The Marina and Cornation Drive in Hartlepool/Seaton. Return was via the Owton Lodge (as was), The Swan, Crooksbarn and Norton High Street.

Tuesday 29th August 2023 – A final summer’s evening outing, using a celebrity vehicle with a celebrity driver. Rob Hughes has kindly agreed to treat us to a run in his Strathtay Leopard, YSF87S, not so long back from their triumph in the Rust2Rome event. 1930 departure from Stagecoach’s Stockton Depot.

Tuesday 26th September 2023 – Our indoor meetings at the Malleable club restarted with a talk by Chris Mills, giving us the background to the West Durham independents we visited on the first of our 2023 summer evening outings, in June.

Tuesday 31st October 2023 – John Lowe addressed us on the subject of “How We Got Here, Where We Are Now, From Trams to Stagecoach”.

Tuesday 28th November 2023 – One-time NELPG Secretary and Now and Then magazine contributor Colin Hatton presented his latest talk entitled “Darlington to Saltburn”, in which he discussed railways in our area and how they made Teesside industry from their very beginning until the demolition of Redcar blast furnace in 2022.

Tuesday 19th December 2023 saw our traditional social get-together in lieu of a formal meeting. Treasurer Mark Wilson presented a resume of the years social activities and light refreshments were provided by the Group and the management of the Malleable Club. The Committee would like to extend season’s greetings to all who couldn’t attend.

Wednesday 27th December 2023. This year’s ever popular Annual Basher’s Day, touring parts of the Northeast bus network and organised by Jeff Tattersall. Please meet by 0900, in the passenger concourse of Middlesbrough Bus Station, in front of the old Travel Office. Please have with you, a valid NE Explorer ticket or an ENCTS pass.

Thursday 28th December 2023 How about working off a few Christmas calories helping the Group? We are having a Volunteer Day on Thursday 28th December at Stockton Depot. The aim is to deep clean our bus interiors and to organise our heap of spares into a coherent collection. No expertise of any sort is required, just a willingness to graft as directed, for 3 or 4 hours, ideally starting at 1000 but later, if 1000 is not convenient. A chance to see inside Flowers and, of course, you’ll pass through the Depot en route. Please bring a hi-viz jacket of you have one but we can provide them if necessary. It would help if you could let Adam or Mark know you are coming but, by all means just turn up on the day, if that suits you better. Thank you.

Tuesday 30th January 2024 Andy Rasmussen presented an illustrated talk on the subject of “Non-PSV and Interesting Vehicles”. Some spectacular conversions, some that never actually ran as PSVs and, generally, a fearful reminder of just how quickly a bus becomes “life expired” for use in service and passes on to another life, which can outlive the original service life.

(Updated 10/02/24)