An estimated 3,000 people attended the open day at the Alexander Dennis bus chassis factory in Guildford on Saturday 11th May. The opportunity to look behind the scenes at Britain’s biggest bus manufacturer was enthusiastically embraced by local residents as well as visitors from as far afield as Hong Kong and Singapore.
Tours of the plant, vehicle displays and rides, specialist talks on electrical systems and hybrid technology, and build-a-bus activities for children were just some of the attractions put on for visitors by a team of 40 volunteers from the company’s Guildford team.
The event was held in support of two local charities, Challengers and Phyllis Tuckwell Hospice Care, with just short of £1,600 raised for their causes.
Vintage vehicles displayed the breadth of the engineering and manufacturing heritage of Dennis, with lorries, lawn mowers, preserved buses and fire engines on show. A 1936 open-top Dennis Ace fire appliance lovingly known as ‘the Pig’ – in service until 1997 as the Dennis works’ own fire engine – offered rides around the local area that drew long queues.
Park and ride buses and shuttles to railway stations were provided by preserved and modern buses with the kind support of vehicle owners and local bus operators including Stagecoach, Arriva, Cardinal Buses, Mortons Travel, Reptons Coaches, Safeguard Coaches, Southern Transit and White Bus Services.
Production supervisor Claire Barrett, who led the organization team, commented: “I feel very honoured to have been involved in the open day, seeing so many people enjoying themselves, taking part in the activities, being curious and asking questions about the products and systems we use. The balance of content about the past, present and future of the company was just right and enjoyed by all. Many of our colleagues came along with their families and it was lovely to witness their pride at working for such an iconic company.”