The Leeds Running Day 2022...
Good evening all, I have had a day winding down after the hype of the Leeds Running Day and thought I'd compile a little review of the day from my point of view to accompany the other sets of fantastic images and comments shared across social media.
In terms of pre planning, I have spent hundreds of hours organising this event as an individual after the very sad loss of my friend and co-organiser Neil Millington two years ago.
I was very nervous indeed in the run up to the big day as I was so determined to put on a nice show for everyone to enjoy - behind the scenes, there have been many hurdles to overcome, lack of available vehicles/staff, vehicle faults and failures and little support from Leeds city council in general (Although the staff at each individual LCC venue as always were really happy that the event was to go ahead) or indeed any organisation apart from Middleton and CEG at Kirkstall Forge, with Lucinda (Community liason officer) being absolutely brilliant and supportive of our coming to the Forge for the first time since the event began in 2014.
In terms of the event base, the council had refused to carry out any site maintenance citing lack of funding, thus costing me over £200 to purchase the equipment so a small team of volunteers could go along and take the matter into our own hands.
I was obviously keen to ensure the front top deck domes of the double deckers and the sides of all buses were not damaged by low trees or side branches - sadly we did not have the time (or inclination) to carry out ALL of LCC's responsibilities so the car park area was left overgrown thus sadly reducing the amount of car parking at Thwaite Watermill - maybe one day the council will find some money to actually improve this site - it is such a shame as the surroundings are very peaceful and the watermill is a fascinating place to visit.
The car parking situation was rather difficult at Thwaite and the access is always unsettling with the chance of big buses meeting on the single track over bridge - we decided to mitigate any issues on the bridge by controlling movements in and out of the site by radio... Brian, Mel and Mick carrying out these duties perfectly during the entire day and preventing any sort of conflicting vehicle movement.
The folks from Dewsbury bus museum set up the sales stall on the grass verge and positioned their vehicles ready to perform service on the green route.
When the Black Prince buses arrived conveying the equipment, we were able to set up the tombola, sales stand and information point where we sold programmes and other goodies. My family did an amazing job with the stall and folk had a fabulous time having a go and winning some great prizes during the day!
As the buses arrived, they were slotted into service with all departures being duplicated to ensure there was enough capacity to carry the expected amount of passengers along the routes.
My Black Prince fleet was scheduled to run the core of the days service with my Leeds Atlantean 331 being the only LCT vehicle in traffic during the day - Morecambe 73 was the other bus requested to run for the entire day to cover all four diagrams on the basic service which the owner was pleased to slot in to. I was then able to mix up the duplicates as required, swapping buses out as they were getting a bit warm or the crews needed a break from driving or conducting.
I was rather disappointed that no further LCT vehicles attended, but I am sure each owner or organisation had good reason for non attendance, maybe if the event happens in the future there will be more home fleet in traffic on the city streets.
Nonetheless, between myself and my friends, we managed to provide an absolutely excellent cross section of preserved buses ranging from the 1950's to the 1990's and I think there really was something to interest everybody in the lineup - it was a real pleasure to see such great vehicles doing what they do best, carrying people to places and not sitting in a museum covered in dust.
The 30 minute departure frequency seemed to work well and although the buses were very busy, they were not swamped as a result of the duplication.
I had asked for volunteers to man certain points along the way, so Jack and Andy took up position at Middleton offering programmes and information to our passengers.
Jake was on stand at Armley in the industrial museum car park and did a top job co-ordinating arrivals and departures and keeping passengers entertained while they waited!
We had Lucinda on stand at the new terminus of the route, Kirkstall Forge and she really did pull out all the stops to make things work over there, providing drinks for visitors and putting on a fabulous display of Kirkstall Forge history and photographs for the enjoyment of anyone who took the time to pop in to the lobby. Kirkstall Forge had also made ample car parking available for this event which was superb!
I hope many Black Prince fans made it along to the running day on Sunday and had an enjoyable day riding on classic buses through the streets of Leeds - all in all, the event went absolutely superbly, with all buses performing really well and some great passenger numbers carried - it was so nice to hear pretty much wall to wall positivity from all who came to speak with me during the day and nice to know things were going well, the visitors were happy and having a nice day out in the glorious sunshine!
It only remains for me to convey my thanks to all who backed my efforts to return this event to the city of Leeds - my friends and family were hugely supportive (as always) and between us (be it running their own vehicles at their own cost, running the stall, selling the programmes etc) we really managed (against all odds) to provide a superb day out for hundreds of people, be they bus enthusiasts, families or tourists visiting Leeds from other areas, it is great to be able to show off our museums and attractions, especially such hidden gems as Thwaite watermill and the Industrial museum.
What of the future?... let's let it develop, a lot could happen between now and next time - the fuel cost may become totally prohibitive - with my fuel bill alone for the Leeds Running Day being over £1000 it is very nearly untenable...
I do hope to be able to arrange something in the future and if an event is deemed possible then it will be published here as soon as the plan starts to shape up.
Good luck everyone and take care...