THE chance to step back 50 years is being offered on New Year’s Day with a unique free bus service  around the Winchester district.

For the past 25 years the Friends of King Alfred Buses have given nostalgic rides to the public. Now, with a fleet of 40 heritage buses on January 1, King Alfred Buses will be running as a replacement for all other bus services with regular travel for free.

A member for more than 20 years, John Beer said: “It’s a chance to give people access and enjoy the machines we preserve. I think it reminds people of their childhood, it’s a part of the past - like many things in Winchester.”

He added: “We meet all sorts of characters and a lot of the time we’re a very nice surprise at the bus stop! It’s free and we help people get around for the day which has become a nice tradition.”

Chairman of the charity, James Freeman has loved King Alfred buses since he was a boy and has helped keep them going for 40 years since the bus company closed, said: “It’s a huge bit of fun and everybody has a big smile on their face by the end of the day, I think it helps get people out of the Christmas blues.”

He added: “The bit that is great for those involved is that, we are a group that rescues and restores these buses and then we get to share them with everybody instead of having to put them on a shelf.

“It’s a great day for everyone. You get the avid followers who have waited all year round and come from all over the world to meet, the families on a day out, and then those who are completely taken by surprise. From the people travelling to the drivers, we all have fun.”
A charity preserving vehicles from King Alfred’s Bus Company which operated from 1920 to 1973, for New Year’s Day they offer the opportunity to see Winchester on the balcony of a Parisian bus from the 1930s running to Lower Stanmore and Stoney Lane.T

here is the chance to be one of the first aboard the 1950 Leyland Olympic since being restored, as it goes to Romsey Road, Stanmore and St Cross Road and an hourly service from other preserved buses will run on city routes including Oliver’s Battery and the Weeke Estate.

Those living outside of Winchester can also catch a bus from Crawley, Sutton, Scotney, Alresford, Otterbourne, Hursley, Twyford or from St Catherine’s park and ride there will be a free service to the bus station.
Details and times for the Winchester Buses Running Day are available in a programme timetable for sale at the Guildhall on the day for £10, or order in advance by post for £11 (including postage) from Friends of King Alfred Buses, 13 Ashley Close, Winchester, SO22 6LR. All costs will go towards the charity.