IN THE past the annual King Alfred Running Day was held on New Year’s Day, sometimes in sub-zero temperatures.

Some of the old buses broke down in the cold.

There was no problem with freezing engines on Monday, the hottest early May Bank Holiday since records began in the 1970s. Temperatures at the Environment Agency monitoring station at Otterbourne reached 28 degrees.

A host of traditional King Alfred buses up to 87 years old, took passengers on the traditional routes throughout Winchester and Southampton along with some 20 or so buses from other local operators.

it was a nostalgia trip for many, with bus conductors issuing the old paper tickets and others enjoying the wooden and chrome interiors of the vehicles.

The free services operated from Winchester Broadway starting at 9.30am till 5pm, covering most of the traditional King Alfred routes plus those of neighbouring historic bus companies such as Aldershot & District and Hants & Dorset.

The independently-owned King Alfred Bus (KAB) company operated from the 1920s until 1973. Its base was at St John’s House on The Broadway.

On Monday Winchester Guildhall was busy with a transport bazaar attracting people from across the UK. Enthusiasts were in abundance taking photos of the buses as they came and went from The Broadway through the day.

At the Cattle Market Car Park in Hyde there was a static display of historic vehicles with a frequent free bus service to and from central Winchester.

Plentiful car parking will be available at St Catherine’s Park & Ride with frequent free buses to and from the city centre.

Friends of King Alfred Buses’s founder and chairman, James Freeman said: “It’s time once again to give our many friends and supporters a chance to relive the best years of the King Alfred buses and coaches.

“Come with us to experience what it was like to ride on them and their contemporaries. This time we have chosen to take advantage of the May Day bank holiday on Monday May 7 which we believe will be very popular.”

The event was traditionally held on New Year’s Day but the mix of veteran vehicles and freezing temperatures was sometimes not a happy one. Holding it in May should ensure better weather for the old engines.