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Big Wheels is a bus, coach and commercial vehicle rally held on Canvey Island in Essex which helps raise money for the Transport Museum on Canvey. It’s a really interesting museum! They open on the first and third Sundays of every month between April and October. If you get the chance to go, I recommend it!
There were two main site to the show. The first was the Canvey Central Park. This is a dog walking type park near Canvey’s famous arcade park and the popular Labworth Cafe; an art-deco style building which overlooks the beach. It’s a great location for the show as it guarantees a lot of passing traffic and regulars to the island will know exactly where it is.
There were plenty of buses and other vehicles to look round at the site. This part of the show was worth the trip by itself and was also completely free to enter!
1980’s Mercedes will always have a place in my heart, regardless of what type of vehicle it is.
I grew up with First Essex buses like these. They were always white and purple though. I much prefer this blood and custard throw back livery!
The windows in the roof of the bus below made the inside ever so light and airy! With the thin pillars I’m sure it felt very open and comfortable inside.
From that site there were a number of free shuttle buses taking people to and from the museum which was the second location. My Dad and I took a ride there on a Leyland Titan from 1965. It looked like quite the work out to drive with no power steering! Obviously much heavier than the cars I typically feature on this blog.
the Transport Museum is housed in the old bus depot which was originally owned by the Canvey & District Motor Transport Co. Ltd and later the Eastern National Omnibus Co. Ltd. It was built in 1934 and closed in 1978.
Since it was built in 1934, during the height of art-deco building design, it’s obviously absolutely gorgeous. I didn’t get the opportunity to get far enough away from the building to get a photograph of it in it’s full glory; so you’ll have to head down there to see it yourself!
Outside the front of the museum there were a handful of vehicles including a Mk4 St John’s Ambulance. The Mk4 Ambulance always reminds me of The Prodigy’s video for ‘Take Me To The Hospital’ released about 10 years ago.
Across from that was a display from the Royal Artillery Association which is a not-for-profit organisation, made up of serving and retired service personnel, who help soldiers who are deployed and those who have returned home. If you would like to learn more about them or there work, follow the link to their website by clicking here: www.theraa.co.uk
There’s always time for ice cream!
Just inside the main doors of the museum was a small stand by the Southend Radio Controlled Flying Club. It was a pleasant surprise to see some aircraft at this show! I quickly fell in love with this Messerschmitt 110!
This Lancaster is based off of No.9 Squadron based out of RAF Bardney in Lincolnshire. There story is a fascinating one and I highly recommend you check it out!
This FW190 was looking smart too!
Most of the inside of the museum was dedicated to trade stands, mostly selling books and die-cast models. There were a few works in progress scattered about. I would imagine restoring one of these buses is physically a huge undertaking! There’s certainly a lot more to work with here than a Mercedes saloon car haha!
Around the back, T. Cribb & Sons had brought out a lovely horse drawn hearse and Bedford van. A lot of time and love had gone into the restoration of the van, it was immaculate!
Fire engines! These were built in the 1970s which was only 40-45 years ago but the equipment looks so old fashioned in comparison to what is used today. That can only be a good thing! The new equipment helps save lots of lives!
From there we took another short ride back to the park on a different Leyland Titan. A few different bits and bobs and turned up whilst we were away.
This all wheel driven AWD/Bedford TL is quite unusual. I bet it’s great in the snow!
I need one of these pods in my life. It’s perfect for a one man band travelling to car shows!
It was a nice day out! I’ve only been to the Canvey Transport Museum twice, both times with my Dad, which is a bit of a sin really as it’s not far to go at all! I really recommend it, it’s nice to see something a bit different.
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By Richard Francis