IT IS several years now since the Friends of King Alfred Buses (FoKAB) moved their famous Running Day from a usually chilly January 1 to the balmier beginning of May.

For one long-married couple the annual event on New Year’s Day has a special meaning.

On the No 7 bus to Sparsholt (driven by FoKAB chairman James Freeman) they explained on arrival at Sparsholt Church that they were about to celebrate 60 years’ of marriage.

Leslie and Sheila Miles, who now live in Overton, near Basingstoke, were born and brought up in Sparsholt and their regular journeys to and from Winchester on the bus were where they did their courting.

So the latest trip was very special as they remembered their marriage ceremony, in Sparsholt Church on January 2 1960. They received a round of applause from their fellow passengers when they shared all this!

FoKAB has continued to provide free nostalgic rides on the old King Alfred buses on New Year’s Day.

This year saw a total of eight vehicles involved - six buses as well as the 1931 Dennis and a newly-restored 1965 Bedford CAZ minibus. Three double-deckers and three single-deckers typical of the period between 1956 and 1970 were staffed by FoKAB volunteers and ran over the old King Alfred routes in the time-honoured way.

There were plenty of eager passengers and the city was agreeably empty (as most of its population slept off the effects of the seeing the New Year in!) so the buses ruled the road again, for one day!

King Alfred Buses was an independent company that defied the advances of national companies but eventually closed for business in 1973.

FoKAB was set up to preserve the vehicles and since then the charity has been buying and restoring as many as possible.

The photos capture the elderly vehicles in action and the empty roads evoke the days of the 1950s and 60s when all roads were far emptier than they are today.

The main running day is on May 3.