‘Battle Bus’ rolls in as Great North Steam Fair begins at Beamish Museum

BATTLE BUS: Will be calling in at Beamish Museum.
BATTLE BUS: Will be calling in at Beamish Museum.

ALL aboard for Beamish Museum’s Great North Steam Fair this week – it’s set to be the biggest yet.

A First World War “Battle Bus” and a mighty 1918-built Erie steam navvy will join steam locomotives, trams and more than 160 road vehicles – including buses, motor cars, traction engines and motor cycles at the event, which runs from today until Sunday.

The fair will mark the start of the museum’s Great North Festival of Transport.

Paul Jarman, Beamish’s assistant director transport and industry, said: “We’ve set out to produce an event to beat 2014’s and I think we are on course to do this with the spectacular variety of truly historic vehicles being presented over the festival.

“It is hard to single any one attraction for special mention, but certainly the steam navvy and Battle Bus are sure to be hugely popular with visitors.

“The overall feel of the event is to create the hustle and bustle of the 1920s and 30s transport scene across the museum, with as much working activity as possible.”

The “Battle Bus” B2737, from the London Transport Museum, started life as a London General Omnibus Company vehicle and was commandeered by the War Department and painted khaki when the First World War broke out.

The steam navvy was built as part of a global mechanisation of large scale construction projects in the late Victorian period onwards. Used for mining, quarrying, railway and canal, building and infrastructure projects, many of these had previously relied on human and horsepower for their excavation work.

Other Great North Steam Fair highlights include steam train rides behind Portbury at Rowley Station and seeing steam locomotives Lewin and Coffee Pot at the Colliery railway.

Visitors can also take a ride on the model engineers’ railway.