The Secretary of ADORR dreads the midnight phone call from the Chairman, Ray Le Mesurier-Foster, because he half suspects what is going to be said: Ive bought another bus. So, on the 11th January 2004 the call came OK, what is it this time? Ive bought another ex-Aldershot & District Dennis E, But there arent any more left! replies Keith. WRONG!
The story is that Dennis E OT 8902 was in service until 1936, then was scrapped in 1937 and normally that would be the end of the story. How it got to Walton on Thames in Surrey is a mystery, but it did. Parked on a piece of ground by the river, the then owner decided to build a house AROUND THE BUS! So, in January this year, the demolition contractors, making way for a new development, discovered the bus buried in the house, where it been a room for 67 years. Cobham Bus Museum were informed and promptly rescued it to their garage just 5 miles away.
Thanks to the well established reputation of various restoration groups, brought together by NARTM, it was only a matter of hours before Cobham were on the phone offering the Dennis to the Aldershot & District group, which had now purchased it. Checks by Chairman Ray and colleague Brian Finch confirmed that it is OT 8902. The condition of the chassis remarkable, best explained as being frozen in time. Wheels, axles, transmission, exhaust and fuel tank are in place, though the engine and gearbox have been removed, as has the steering wheel. The body - built by Dennis - has some usable parts, the roof part of one side complete with window winders still being present. The A&D scroll can be detected under the paint.
After the Cobham open day in April, the vehicle will be moved to our premises in Sussex, where a full assessment will be made as to the possibility of OT 8902 being restored fairly quickly. Secretary Keith Hawkins and Engineer Chris Kent have both examined the bus and they are confident that this goal can be achieved.
1928 was a significant year for the Tracco, with no less then 29 new Dennis E types entering service as well as a number of other new vehicles. Most of these E's had Strachan and Brown bodywork, although twelve were bodied by Dennis Bros, inclining OT 8902.
The importance of this vehicle to our ever growing fleet of buses cannot be overstressed. Even more important will be raising the finance to save, store and restore these gems of Public Transport from the past. Whilst we have some funds to call on, we still need your support and help. The drama above is a real rescue story and thank God we were able to do it.