Wednesday 6th December 2017

Surprise package

 

You had to feel for them. One hundred and ninety French guests got off our three vintage red Routemasters outside gorgeous Gosford House and before they could say nous sommes arrives (wish this blog allowed an e acute) they were charged by a band of burly, yelling, sword-wielding, Jacobites. And the visitors had only been in Scotland an hour.

That’s the kind of surprise our corporate clients tend to arrange for their guests. There have been mystery tours, treasure hunts and mobile quizzes. At other times we’ve had pipers appearing on the entrance platform in full kit with a dram served to everyone; food stops on the Royal Mile with delicacies from cheese maker Mellis or Italian gourmands Valvona & Crolla; or our conductor coming round with our very own Red Bus craft brew.

While we’re on the subject of colour… Routemasters have been painted in all sorts of hues, including an odd blue and yellow scheme when a small fleet briefly worked in public service in Glasgow in the early 1990s. I remember silver for a handful in London in 1977 for the Jubilee. But here at The Red Bus we are convinced only one colour truly works, and against the dark stone of Edinburgh’s Old Town and New Town it looks even better.

Tuesday 21st November 2017

Park and ride

 

This may not be a secret exactly but one of the best things about Edinburgh is Holyrood Park. I still recall the thrill of seeing the elephantine mass of Arthur’s Seat for the first time and the views from the top – the dizzy mix of city, hills and sea. Salisbury Crags, Hunters Bog, the Radical Road… sure, it’s a geological wonder – volcanic rock, glaciers etc – but also a tonic of urban wilderness.

Add our vintage red Routemasters into the scene and you create something extra special. We do this often, heading around the upper road, the Queen’s Drive, for wedding guests, corporate tours and the various one-off arts/music events that we love to get involved in.

We usually come into the park past the parliament and Holyrood Palace, then fork right after St Margaret’s Loch for the short, dramatic, twisty climb. Then it’s along Dunsapie Loch, round to the right and back down. With luck there will be a spectacular panorama. If not, it will at least be atmospheric.

One couple, Dawn and Richard, took their vows on the platform (don’t worry, the bus was stationary) then walked along a red carpet through a throng of guests at Dunsapie. Another stepped off the bus at the Palace car park and led their party up to the ruined St Anthony’s Chapel for another unique ceremony.

Seven or eight years ago our first bus, RM1353, crawled behind the Lady Boys of Bangkok in bright sunshine all the way from the Commonwealth Pool down to the Palace for the Edinburgh Fringe Festival Calvacade. We were surrounded by all manner of performers and costumes, and both decks were full of ecstatic children.

You can never take access for granted, though. Icy surface, falling rocks, athletic/charity events – all can block the entrance to the high road. We are grateful to the Holyrood Rangers, part of Historic Scotland, who let us know what’s going on. They also grant us the special permits without which so many of our passengers would never get to enjoy this incredible Edinburgh treat.

 

Sunday 5th November 2017

Once upon a time in Edinburgh

 

On November 25 The Red Bus will be back at the Edinburgh Steiner School for another day of atmospheric top-deck storytelling at the Christmas Market https://www.edinburghsteinerschool.org.uk/community/christmas-market/. This year the event will feature renowned writers and storytellers Will Sutcliffe, Gillian Arbuthnott, Mike Nicholson, Elizabeth Ezra, David MacPhail and Vixy Rae. It’s a slightly older target audience this time: ages six to 12.

It’s got me thinking of how often we’ve hosted storytellers, puppeteers and musicians. And how much fun it usually turns out to be, not just for the children but the adults who bring them. As for the performers – how often do you get to tread the (cork) boards of an iconic 1962 Routemaster?

For our debut at the Edinburgh fringe in 2009 we almost bit off more than we could chew, staging no fewer than nine separate acts for various ages near the Pavilion Cafe. Somehow it all worked out – the only real snag was when August monsoons turned the Meadows into a swamp. The bus listed like a stricken galleon and had to be towed out.

Highlights have included Celeste’s Circus, devised by and starring Francisca Morton of Faux Theatre. It was a sellout Fringe puppet show – The Red Bus was its first venue, and it went on to draw much bigger audiences at the Traverse, Scottish Storytelling Centre and elsewhere.

“It was a delight to perform Celeste’s Circus on the top deck of the bus to a full house of 25!”, Francisca recalls. “Babies were wide eyed and gently drooling, and I literally had a captive audience.”

Then there was the magical Oona And The Rabbits, written by Clunie and our eldest daughter Stella and narrated by the wonderful Peter Snow on Arthur’s Seat. That also featured our younger daughter Iona in the title role, with cameos  for her two black rabbits, the late lamented Daisy and Jo Jo. Never work with animals or children, the saying goes – we just about escaped when Oona, on tiptoes, had to lift the rabbits away from a pack of hungry lurchers as she was about to board.

Free Range Puppeteers. Kidgloves. Mara Menzies. Marion Kenny. Daniel Allison. Big Pete… it’s a long and distinguished list. Come along and help us write the next chapter.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tuesday 24th October 2017

Happy Birthday!

Ten years ago this week The Red Bus rolled up in Edinburgh for the first time. That was the day I drove RM1353 up the A1 from Newcastle with Clunie and our 10-year-old son. And 62 empty seats – 63 when Gabriel perched in the cab with me.

The bus was already in my blood – Routemasters in general but maybe even this particular vehicle, since it used to work the 88 route between Acton and Tooting, via Notting Hill Gate. That’s where I grew up, near Portobello Road, and my parents went on to live in that house for half a century. The year they moved there, 1962,  was the same year a pristine RM1353 drove out of the factory gates at Park Royal, just four miles to the west.

So much for history. Millions of London passengers later, and four hundred miles north, the bus is still going strong today in Edinburgh. Now it’s in a fleet of three Routemasters (RMs), all much the same in terms of original fittings, seating, chrome poles etc. And let’s not forget the glorious, unmistakable AEC engines – these don’t quite chug or purr, it’s something else robust and smooth and timeless.

The Red Bus gets around, that’s for sure. Not just major landmarks in the city itself – up the Castle esplanade, down the Royal Mile, in and out of Holyrood Park via the high road round Arthur’s Seat. You’re just as likely to spot us in East Lothian, maybe by Prestonpans or Longniddry. Or at one of the hidden gems such as Winton House in Pencaitland or Gosford House near Aberlady. Or in West Lothian, say Hopetoun House, Kirknewton Stables or the Dalmahoy.

It could be a wedding, as in taking people to and fro. It could be a couple getting married on the bus itself. It could be a mass ukulele session on the move. Or it could be puppeteers and storytellers at a fringe show in the Meadows. Or dancers from New Zealand. A pop-up bookshop has just been mooted.

Thank you to everyone who has boarded since 2007. Long live The Red Bus! And, if you don’t mind, Happy Birthday to us.

 

 

 

 

Tuesday 10th October 2017

Route one

Sam Phipps, co-founder, writes:

Welcome to The Red Bus blog! In this brand new space I will let you know our latest movements and share some of the more unusual aspects of running three authentic Routemasters in Scotland’s stunning capital.

I started The Red Bus with my wife Clunie almost 10 years ago. Since then we have had the privilege of providing these vintage icons for tens of thousands of people – from wedding groups to birthday parties, corporate hires and Edinburgh Fringe Festival audiences.

Upcoming posts will look at some of Edinburgh’s most spectacular venues and routes, including Arthur’s Seat; offbeat events onboard; and personal stories from brides to bus spotters!

Friday 22nd September 2017

Colin Curtis tribute

The name Colin Curtis is synonymous with the Routemaster. He worked as an engineer for London Transport for 40 years and was deeply involved in the creation and development of what became the world’s best loved bus.

I had the pleasure of meeting Colin in the apt setting of the old Cobham Bus Museum, Surrey, in 2010, where he was a regular visitor, happy to dispense wisdom on mechanical matters. Then in his eighties, surrounded by friends and former LT colleagues in the canteen, he told me about his fascination with buses from childhood and how the Routemaster evolved out of decades of bus design for the capital.

He was pretty scathing about the “blasted Boris bus” – the so-called new Routemaster then in development at the behest of the London mayor. This was not sour grapes but more out of frustration at the way a deregulated industry had ditched all that priceless expertise. He was proved right – the new hybrid bus has been beset by problems with ventilation and batteries, plus cost, and no more orders will be placed.

Colin died five years ago but his legacy lives on. If you would like to know more about his life and career, here are two obituaries I wrote at the time.

— Sam Phipps, co-owner of The Red Bus

https://www.theguardian.com/uk/2012/sep/28/colin-curtis

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/obituaries/9590678/Colin-Curtis.html

 

 

News Archive

 

Here are some items that predate our new blog. We'll keep them here for now as they show the kind of things we get up to.

Free tickets on wedding fair bus

October 1st 2017

We are excited to be providing a shuttle service to the Luxury Scottish Wedding Show at Hopetoun House. This is on Sunday October 1st.

One of our Routemasters, fully decorated in wedding mode, will be leaving from the Dome, George Street, at 11.15am and
Charlotte Square at 11.30am. There will also be an afternoon departure from the Dome at 2pm and Charlotte Square at 2.15pm.

Return trips to Edinburgh will leave at 1pm and at 4pm.

This is a great chance to experience our wedding bus in person and our service will be free on the day.

Feel free to contact us in advance if you would like to hop on board en route and we will certainly stop to pick you up.

Looking forward to seeing you there.

The Red Bus Rides

4 August - 21 August 2017

Starting this week!
We will be at the lovely Pavilion cafe in the Meadows park each morning from 9.30am with face painting and bubbles at Bus Stop Art. Wait here for the big red bus to arrive and jump on board to take a round trip of Arthur's seat.

Dreams Occur

23.6.17

Friday launch of Zenga the Titan"s new EP
On board. Live music around town

Bus Rides!

4 August - 21 August 2017

Come and see us in August in the Meadows by the Pavilion cafe. 3 bus trips a day and art and facepainting at The Art Bus stop! 4 - 21st August just come along,tickets on board the bus.

Good runner

RM737 took part in the Scottish Vintage Bus Museum's Running Day at Lathalmond on May 21, joining dozens of other vintage buses of various sizes, colours, shapes and ages!

Vintage service

Our three-bus shuttle service – one every 20mins from Haymarket with a stop at Corstorphine – helped make the Ingliston Revival vintage motor show go in style.

Thank you to our drivers Gordon, Andrew, Ian, Iain, Tony, Kenny and Sam. And conductors Charlie (seen here during a rare quiet moment), Stella, Sean, Ruth and Fiona. We're booked for next year's event!

Ingliston Revival

13 & 14 May 2017

Here we go!
Service to and from Ingliston Revival - Classic & Prestige Car Festival, Haymarket - Ingliston every 20 minutes all day today 13th May and tomorrow 14th May
http://www.ingliston.co.uk/revival/

Ingliston Revival

13 & 14 May 2017

We are running a special service throughout both days 13 & 14 May to take passengers from Haymarket, Corstorphine, Royal Highland Centre every 20 minutes for the Ingliston Revival Motor Experience. Tickets £2 from our conductor on board.

Wedding Day Bus

We love weddings!
You can come down to our Edinburgh garage to see one of our wedding buses decorated with fresh flowers and ready to go out to a wedding most Saturdays throughout the year. Just contact us in advance to arrange.

All join hands

28 October 2016

We were a part of a great art fundraising evening for Syrian regugees, organised by Agent Ali McCauly with the Vine Trust Barge Leith 28 October

Super Saturday

September 24th, 2016

RM875 was in the Grassmarket, Edinburgh all day on Saturday September 24 as The Red Bus joined the finale of Sustainable Travel Week.

Bob's Blunderbus, a free children's show, was a huge hit. Thank you to our conductor, Fiona, and driver, Ian.

It was a special day for buses all round, with Lothian Buses opening its Annandale Rd depot and several old vehicles running on route 16 from Lothian Road to Granton and back.

Below, RM737 in action on Castlehill with passengers from a French company on Thursday September 22nd.

Dance on the bus

August 5th - 28th 2016

Viva Java!

Java Dance returned to New Zealand at the end of August after 42 sellout performances of their fantastic hit show Back of the Bus. It ran twice a day on RM737, starting in Buccleuch Place and taking the audience on a very special hour-long trip around Edinburgh with dance, music and laughter. Congratulations to Java Dance director Sacha and all her team!


Valentines Day Treat

Sunday 14 FEbruary 2016

Inspired by our lovely day at The Vintage Wedding Show today we would like to announce our Valentine's Day treat.
Calling all couples who took The Red Bus on their wedding day...
We are offering the first 15 of you to get in touch a free ride next Sunday at 12 midday from George Street Edinburgh. Let us take you on a Valentine's day trip for half an hour with a glass of bubbly, chocolates and music.
Message me quickly as only only the first 15 I hear from will receive their free tickets!

Vintage Wedding Show

7 February 2016

The Red Bus will be at the Vintage Wedding Show on 7 February at the Waldorf Astoria Edinburgh: The Caledonian (Princes Street end of Lothian Road).

Come onboard and have a look at the bus in full wedding mode. We will be there to answer any questions about routes, venues, plans and costs. From 11am to 4pm.

The Snow Bus

21 November 2015

We had the day at The Edinburgh Steiner School Christmas Market and enjoyed welcoming lots of children on board for storytelling and facepainting at this magical event.

International platform

The Red Bus was in George's Square to welcome international students to Edinburgh University for freshers week. Volunteers handed out information and snacks, and the sun shone.

Carnival time

On Sunday 19th July, The Red Bus turned off King's Stables Road and squeezed over the railway bridge into Princes Street Gardens. For the next three hours the bus was packed with children who had animal balloons made by Big Pete Aubery. Pete reckons he made more than 350. Hats off to you Pete and to our conductor for the day, Laura Griffin!

Broxmouth Park

We have been blessed with some terrific weather this summer as The Red Bus has got out of Edinburgh. Here we are at beautiful Broxmouth Park, near Dunbar. In the background is a vintage taxi from Ecosse Cars.

Shine on

29 April 2015

Repanelling and painting of our first bus, RM1353, was completed in spring 2015. Our thanks to Andy Crockett and Peter Mitchell at the Scottish Vintage Bus Museum for a wonderful finish.

Trip for One Parent Families Edinburgh

21 February 2015

The bus took a trip around town with a terrific group of Dads and children on board, as part of an art workshop led by Stella Phipps.

Children's Open Day

24.1.2015

Thank you to all the parents and children who came to the first ever Red Bus Open Day at our depot in Granton on Saturday January 24.
More than 150 people came to ride on RM875, sit in the cab of RM737 and have their photo taken, eat Luca's ice cream and cakes made by Iona.
There was also table tennis and table football, as well as music from Joe the fiddler.
A big thank you to Gordon for driving and taking photos (not at the same time) and to our conductors Stella and Emma.

Driving Experience on The Red Bus

December 2014 onwards

You don't need a bus driver's licence to drive our bus!
Half an hour behind the wheel of the Routemaster and driving in our yard.
Bring your family and friends to be your passengers and allocate one to be the bus conductor. Great photos on the day.
Personalised destination blind included. £75.
Gift vouchers available.

FRINGE 2014

4 - 22 August

Java Dance performed their fabulous Fringe show on board The Red Bus! "Back of the Bus" ran from 4 - 22 August and was fully sold out.
The bus was voted Best Venue in the Dark Chat Awards 2014.

July 12, 2014

RM60 a stunning success

More than 120 Routemasters attended the RM60 event in Finsbury Park, north London, last Sunday. The rally was to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the unveiling of the first Routemaster prototype in 1954. It was a fantastic occasion, and Sam from The Red Bus was there.

Other vintage buses on show included this 1910 B type, thousands of which were used in World War 1 to transport troops and ammunition and even housed carrier pigeons. On return from France and Belgium they were repainted red from khaki and went about their original business again in London well into the 1920s. The Routemaster evolved directly from this!

VINTAGE WEDDING COLLECTION

The Red Bus has joined Mel and Jay's Vintage Wedding Collection, a fantastic source for couples looking for authentic vintage glamour. See the ideas at www.vintageweddingcollection.co.uk for entertainment, photography, fashion, flowers... and of course transport!