A Brief History of the Trust
The Ribble Vehicle Preservation Group as it was then known was set up in 1972 by a small group based mainly in north Lancashire, most of whom were working in the bus industry. They decided to save some of their favourite Ribble buses which were otherwise destined for the scrap heap. It was always the intention of the group to focus on Ribble Group vehicles although buses operated by companies who worked jointly with Ribble were also accepted if they were of sufficient interest.
The first acquisitions were one of the first generation White Lady double deck coaches (1248) and a Leyland PD2 lowbridge (2765). These were soon joined by a Royal Tiger coach (899) and a Bamber Bridge Motor Services (BBMS) AEC, no.4.
Buses were kept in the open initially at the Garstang Creamery site beside the M6, then at the back of a pub in Catterall and the lack of proper premises led to the collection being split in three to take advantage of available space. Part of the collection remained in north Lancashire and was housed on the premises of a coach operator at Heysham while other buses went to East Lancashire and Bolton. Eventually this resulted in some of the collection moving onto other owners including 1248 and BBMS no.4.
By 1980 the collection at Heysham had to be moved and a new home was found on the premises of Steamtown Railway Museum in Carnforth. This gave ample space but once again everything was stored in the open and few facilities were available for vehicle restoration. However, the collection was kept together and important additions were made such as a Royal Tiger bus (377) and an early Atlantean (1686). Some restoration work was possible despite the difficult conditions and the Preston PD3 no.14 even won a prize at the 1984 Blackpool – Southport rally.
Under cover at last
At the end of the 1980s the group had to leave the yard at Carnforth and after a short period in a rented site permission was granted to occupy three old hangers at the Inskip naval base which is between Preston and Blackpool. This move took place in 1991 but it was another couple of years before the buildings were ready for occupation. It was a red letter day for the group when the collection was housed for the first time and this allowed serious restoration work to commence.
The first bus to receive the ‘full treatment’ was Tiger Cub / Saro saloon 452. This was put back into service in May 1997 and has been an active member of the collection ever since. Work then began on other buses but in 1996 the Inskip authorities decided that all the hangers would be demolished and we were given notice to quit by 1999. The search was then on for new premises.
The RVPT Era
The enforced move from Inskip was a reminder of the vulnerability of being dependent on rented premises and the RVPG team decided that acquiring our own premises was vital for the future of the group. For the first time a formal organisational structure was put in place with a management team and an income stream. A company, RVPT Limited, was set up and charitable status was attained. In 1999 the Trust acquired a part share in a building in west Lancashire and the collection was moved there. By 2001 the owner of the other half of the building was willing to sell and the Trust applied for, and was successful in obtaining, a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund to purchase it. This allowed most of the core collection to be housed undercover and over the years has allowed us to build up a first class facility.
In parallel with all of this we have developed a members group now totalling around 300 who receive a quarterly newsletter. Since the relocation we have completed the restoration of RE / ECW 338, Leopard DP 811, TD5 2057 and partial restoration of White Lady 1279. More restorations are in the pipeline and we are also focusing on the wider history of Ribble.
There have been difficult times for the group over the past 40 plus years but we are now housed in modern, well equipped premises which we own outright and we have a strong group of supporters to help us achieve our objectives. We will continue our work to preserve the memories and traditions of Ribble and anyone wishing to know more is invited to email us via this website.