ELIZABETH, Whitby’s steam bus, is soon to head down to London “as fast as her little wheels will carry her” as she is set to be a special guest at the Lord Mayor’s parade in November.
The 684th Lord Mayor’s Show takes place on 12 November and for owner Vernon Smith, who runs the bus along with his wife Viv and son Vernon Jr, the extraordinary popularity of Elizabeth has been down to their hard work in restoring the 80-year-old vehicle.
He said: “There’s something about these old vehicles that people are drawn to, children in particular. There’s just something about the vehicles, Charlotte’s the same, people’s reactions are incredible.
“It’s anything from women tearing their handbag apart to try and find their camera, to children waving from their prams.”
While Elizabeth will be flying the flag nationwide, Charlotte the Charabanc will take up the reigns back home in Whitby.
The two vehicles have been restored to their former glory by Vernon snr and his family, who will attend this year’s Lord Mayor’s parade without the backing of Welcome to Yorkshire, which supported them at their appearance last year.
“We were invited back because Elizabeth was such a big hit”, said Vernon Snr.
“To be driving down the streets of London and to hear people shouting our names and that they were from Whitby was amazing.
“If we make a big splash while we are down there it will be great for Whitby.”
This year will prove a greater challenge for the bus as she is set to drive all the way down to the event at a top speed of 30mph, whereas last year she was carried on the back of a lorry.
On the journey down, and in the build-up to the November parade, the 80-year-old vehicle is set to fly the flag for Whitby at events all across the country.
Setting off 10 days before the show itself, Elizabeth is set to stay overnight at the National Railway Museum in York, as well as nights in Leeds, Bradford, Burton-upon-Trent and Rugby.
At each of these spots, different events are planned to make the bus open to the public, but the stop in Bradford will hold extra significance as this year’s preferred candidate for the lord mayorship, David Wootton, hails from the city.
In October, Elizabeth is also set to be the guest of honour at Manchester Airport’s visitor centre.
The steam bus will be giving passengers rides along a runway, and will give the team a unique photo opportunity as a Concorde is also stored at the centre.
“It was just too good an opportunity to miss,” said Vernon Snr.
“We were very honoured when they asked us and even more so when they said they had a Concorde, so there’s going to be these two great vehicles side-by-side.
“Somebody from the airport had seen Elizabeth and seen her magnetism and I believe that whoever it was had a ride and was so happy they went back and spread the word.
“The Greater Manchester area is still within Whitby’s catchment so it should be a really good advert for the town.”
Whitby residents can also enjoy a free day onboard the vehicles on the final day of the October half term.