Bus-t up sees Elizabeth put up for auction

Viv and Vern Smith with Elizabeth the Steam Bus ahead of its final weekend in Whitby
Viv and Vern Smith with Elizabeth the Steam Bus ahead of its final weekend in Whitby

The oldest working steam bus in the country has been put up for sale on eBay for £185,000 by its Whitby owners.

The 11-tonne vehicle, named Elizabeth the Steam Bus, offered visitors a unique glimpse of transport from a bygone era and was one of the town’s most popular attractions.

Owners Viv and Vernon Smith announced to passengers that last summer would be their last on the roads and now, the world-famous Charabanc has been put up for sale on the online auction site.

Speaking at the time of their announcement, the couple said it was the “obstructive” attitude of the borough council that led to the final dispute relating to the refilling of Elizabeth’s 300 gallon water tank.

The steam bus must be refilled once each day, a process that takes just five minutes.

The refilling usually took place at Whitby Town FC’s Turnbull Ground, but the bus could not be accommodated on the 12 days a year when a match was being held.

Vernon claimed he contacted the borough council to ask whether this could take place at a car park near the harbour - but said the council’s reply was that for this to take place, the bus must fit inside a designated parking space, with a valid parking ticket on display, otherwise they would receive a fine.

Mr Smith said: “There are a variety of reasons [for selling Elizabeth] but the council’s behaviour is a catalyst.

“We think it’s time the council wakes up the level of public support, instead of being what we perceive as obstructive.”

The bus had been doing the rounds of Whitby for nine years - carrying up to 50,000 passengers a year but could now end up anywhere in the world if a buyer can be found.

A spokeswoman for Scarborough Borough Council said: “Like many others, we were very sad to hear of the decision taken by the owners of Elizabeth to stop operating in Whitby.

“As one of the town’s unique and much-loved attractions we fully appreciate the strength of feelings expressed by her supporters.

“However, we strongly refute the claims that we are somehow to blame for the owner’s decision.”