History of Arkle and Shuttles to the Sun

Back in the mid 1970's and early 80's a number of coach tour operators saw the potential to offer package holidays to the South of France, Spain and Italy by using overnight coach as opposed to expensive air travel.

No longer was the family holiday going to be a week or two at Blackpool or Bournemouth with the unpredictable British weather, tropical destinations such as the French Riviera and various Spanish Playa’s were now within reach, complete with a cheap hotel or campsite as your accommodation.

Through the use of double manning it was possible to complete the journey pretty much non-stop in around 24 hours or so.

As Owned by Derek Randall Enterprises

As Owned by Derek Randall Enterprises

Derek Randall European Enterprises ordered 16 of these coaches ordered for delivery for the 1979 season all on consecutive number plates all the way from EBM 444T up to EBM 459T - our coach - which was the last in the batch delivered new in May ‘79.

These coaches where used mainly on shuttle work down to the south of France Spain and Italy - they would do this run twice weekly during the busy season ferrying people to campsites and other budget package holiday deals.

At the time there was not much of a dealer network in for British built vehicles in Europe so they had to be reliable and up to the job - however when or if things did go wrong you generally fixed it at the side of the road. So the drivers had to be up to the job as well!

Derek had these coaches generally for about two years before they were sold on. Unfortunately the company Derek Randall European Enterprises is no longer with us going bust in the mid eighties which is a shame because they were quite pioneering in there day owning some of the first UK registered double deck coaches with video, toilet etc which became the standard - I guess cheap flights came in and the work dried up.

I have met with one or two of the original drivers who spoke quite fondly of the AEC saying it was the best Britain had to offer at the time and performed well, and bought back good memories - EBM 459T was one of the last from the AEC factory in Southall, London as production ceased at around the same time the coach was registered.

As Owned by Williams Coaches of Bradford

As Owned by Williams Coaches of Bradford

The coach lasted with Randall until March ‘82 and was then sold to Central in Ripponden and then onto Williams Coaches (Bradford) in or around 1986. Williams Coaches of Bradford owned the vehicle for almost 20 years of its life and was driven by Williams Senior who liked to drive the AEC and it is a credit to them that the coach has survived.

In September 2005 it was purchased by a driving school to be used as a training vehicle but was later sold to a private collector in November of that year.

I acquired vehicle on 19th April 2008 with a view to restoration.

Note: There is a missing owner somewhere as there are 6 former keepers according to the V5C registration document - please email us if you might be able to help fill this bit in.

The vehicle was stored for a short while at our premises and restoration work commenced with the vehicle being stripped down to the chassis and body frame.

Our Classic Coach Fully Restored

Our Classic Coach Fully Restored

Parts, etc. were sourced including the original build spec from Plaxtons - the original body builder.

Structural work was then carried out and a complete re-panel and paintwork job was also undertaken. The seats were also removed new flooring and formica to interior was fitted to return the coach back to its original features.

The seating has been re trimmed in a period type pattern to suit the vehicles age - and of course a full set of red curtains was put in.

Then in 2010 the engine and various mechanicals were re-furbished to return the coach to a serviceable condition.

Click here to see more great pictures of our lovingly restored classic coach


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