When & where
The vehicles are based in West Sussex and are usually available for hire in East and West Sussex, Surrey & Hampshire between April and late Autumn each season.
Peter manages our office and is first point of contact. The vehicles can be booked well in advance and we'll be more than happy to discuss arrangements over a year ahead.
The hire rates start from as little as £380 and may vary depending on how long you want the vehicle for and also the distance it needs to travel from our depot, which is near Chichester, West Sussex. (VAT is included at 0% rate for transport). In all cases, we will provide you with a free quote so that you know the exact cost.
Making a booking
Should you wish to book a vehicle for hire, we will request a deposit of £100. Once your deposit has reached us, your booking will be confirmed and the vehicle you choose will be reserved in your name and other people will not then be able to make a booking against it.
This vehicle will be the one which comes on the day. It is very rare to have to offer a substitute from our vintage fleet and in such circumstances we would contact you first.
Full payment will be required 14 days before the hire date. Invoices are provided and include different payment options.
Changing your mind
If you later decide that you would like a different type of vehicle to the one you have booked, we will normally do our best to oblige. However, this becomes more difficult to arrange as your hire date approaches. The more notice you can give, the better.
Should you decide to cancel the booking, the deposit is usually non-refundable. However, our Covid refund promise means that if you book with us and subsequently have to cancel due to Covid, you will receive a no quibble full refund. In circumstances where Southcoast Motor Services are unable to proceed with your hire, you will receive a full refund.
Epsom Derby & Goodwood Revival
Separate pricing packages and arrangements apply to The Epsom Derby festival and Goodwood Revival.
Please do not underestimate the size of a bus: they are big! We will plan a route beforehand, but it will help your day to go more smoothly if you consider the following:
Consider trees and bridges. Double Deck buses require 16 feet clearance and coaches 11 feet. Some venues will tell you that 'large vehicles' regularly visit, but there is a big difference between a bus and a delivery van, so we recommend you take a few minutes to check.
The buses are over 8 feet wide, so a width restriction can be a serious problem. Also, please consider if the place you wish to visit suffers from parked cars which narrow the road.
There is no power assisted steering similar to that fitted to modern vehicles, so the buses will need plenty of room to turn around. Insurance restrictions prohibit excessive reversing, so dead end roads should be avoided.
On a clear, flat road, the absolute maximum speed of the double-deck buses is 40mph; the coaches travel slightly faster. However, the average speed is a lot less. As you might imagine, when you plan your day you will need to allow plenty of time - generally almost twice the time a car might take to travel over the same distance. Please don't forget to allow a bit of time for people to get on and off the vehicle.
Our vehicles were built in the 1960s and as such were not designed and are not equipped to carry some mobility impaired people. We will do our very best to assist where we can and provide here a guide to using our vehicles.
The entrance is 23½ inches wide and there is a low contrast polished steel handrail to the left and right. From flat ground without a kerb is a 15½ inch climb, which becomes reduced where there is a roadside kerb. (A portable step is also available).
Once on the lower step, there are 2 further steps of 11½ inches to the slightly inclined floor. Steps are silver with green treads providing some contrast.
Seats are not fitted with handrails but do have low head rests which are of some help to hold on to. Between the seats there is a minimum aisle width of 14 inches.
The entrance is divided by a central, low contrast, polished steel handrail giving a width of 20½ inches either side. From flat ground without a kerb is a 13 inch climb, which becomes reduced where there is a roadside kerb.
Once on the lower step, there are 2 further steps of 8 inches to the level lower deck floor. Steps are green with black nosing providing some contrast.
Seats have polished steel handrails attached to the tops and vertical poles are fitted where necessary. Between the seats there is a minimum aisle width of 16 inches.
One folded wheelchair can be accommodated on-board each of our vehicles. It is not possible for users to remain seated whilst the wheelchair is loaded onto the vehicle because of steps and width restrictions. Please also bear in mind that there are no lifts or ramps fitted to any vehicle, so the assistance of others may be required when boarding or alighting.
As with any substantial item, folded chairs must be placed in the boot of coaches or under the staircase in buses. They may not be left in gangways, block entrances/exits or placed in such a position likely to hinder evacuation of the vehicle in an emergency.
Access to the top deck of buses
Access to the top deck is via a fairly steep staircase which turns through 180 degrees. There are 7 steps, each up to 11 inches in depth. Silver handrails are fitted both sides.
The staircase on our open-top bus is partly exposed to the elements. Extra care should be taken when using this vehicle as steps and surfaces may become slippery in damp or wet weather.
Emergency exits & safety equipment
Additional exits are located at the rear of all vehicles for use in an emergency. Such exits are standard to buses and coaches in the UK and may involve a drop. Please make yourself familiar with the emergency exits when first joining the vehicle and be aware that others may need assistance when using them. It might not always be possible for the driver to assist.
All vehicles carry a first-aid kit. A fire extinguisher is located in the driver’s cab.
Vintage buses were not built with anchor points and so no seat belts are fitted. In context, there is no requirement for seat belts on modern service buses even today.
Buggies and prams
Unlike modern buses, there is simply no accommodation on vintage vehicles for buggies or prams unless they are folded. To keep things safe, little ones should be removed and the buggy folded before attempting to join the vehicle. Once folded, the driver will assist with stowing buggies in a safe place.
As with any substantial item, folded buggies must be placed in the boot of coaches or under the staircase in buses. They may not be left in gangways, block entrances/exits or placed in such a position likely to hinder evacuation of the vehicle in an emergency.
Please also bear in mind that there are no lifts or ramps fitted to any vehicle, so the assistance of others may be required when boarding or alighting.
Tender loving care
As all the maintenance and restoration is done in-house, we are in full control of the tender loving care that our vehicles receive. If we don't get it right, it will be us that has to deal with the consequences, so we like to do things properly each and every time.
What happens in the workshops
So to give you a bit of background, we have been licensed to operate our vehicles for hire since 1999, but the formation of our restoration group goes much further back to 1988. Now, with over 30 years experience, we have built up a huge supply of new and reconditioned parts ready for any eventuality. Our approach to engineering excellence results in high vehicle availability throughout the busy summer months, during which each vehicle undergoes regular and stringent safety checks.
People often ask why do we not make our vehicles available for hire in the winter: quite simply, this is when we undertake major restoration and servicing of our vehicles, so further ensuring that they are fully reliable in the summer. Each autumn, after the operating season has finished, heavy restoration and improvement work is undertaken in our own well equipped workshops. We take particular care to replicate original detail wherever possible and work closely with local engineering firms to source and manufacture components.
Before the vehicle arrives
On the day itself, as a further check before leaving our depot, the driver and engineering staff will ensure the vehicle and its safety features are working correctly. Only if the vehicle is fully fit for service will we allow it to go onto the road.
Of course, it would be totally naive to say things might never go wrong and in such cases we like to take a fully proactive approach to putting things right. This is why Peter asks customers to provide a mobile phone number for someone in the party we can contact on the day, explain the occurrence and what the available options are.
A peek behind the scenes
If you'd like a look behind the scenes, you might find our Instagram site of interest.
Spill not a drop
If you wish to toast the happy couple, it's best to ask the driver to pull over whilst you do so. Trying to serve glasses of bubbly on a moving bus can be tricky and no-one wants an unexpected dry cleaning bill or sticky bus seats!
Please follow the advice of the driver and respect the vehicles.
Our restoration group was formed in 1988 with the intention of saving and preserving buses and coaches from a golden age, and after successfully obtaining a licence in 1999 we now operate some of our collection for the pleasure of others.
We take immense pride in what we do and always aim for the highest possible standard when presenting our buses and coaches. All our drivers are hand-picked professionals ensuring safety and service.
The vehicles operate from our base on the West Sussex coast near Chichester. As with most such facilities, access is restricted. Peter manages our office and is first point of contact for all enquiries.
Our approach to engineering excellence results in high vehicle availability throughout the busy summer months, during which each vehicle undergoes regular and stringent safety checks. Each autumn, after the operating season has finished, heavy restoration and improvement work is undertaken in our own well equipped workshops. We take particular care to replicate original detail wherever possible and work closely with local engineering firms to source and manufacture components.
The commitment to the continued operation and long term security of these vehicles is absolute and our next full restoration projects, a 1952 luxury tour coach and a 1969 dual-purpose bus/coach, are well under way.
Our bus 350 (cente left) featured in Royal Mail's special issue 'Classic British Buses'
We'll admit, there is a bit to read here, but it's important for you to check that the supplier of your bus or coach is a legal operator.
Background to licensing
When you hire a bus or coach in Great Britain and payment is taken for carrying passengers (called ‘hire or reward’), the person(s) or company providing the vehicle(s) must hold a Public Service Vehicle (PSV) Operator licence.
The main purpose of PSV Operator Licensing is to ensure the safe and proper use of PSVs. The operator licensing system in Great Britain is regulated by independent traffic commissioners, who are appointed by the Secretary of State.
Definition of 'hire or reward'
'Hire or reward' is any payment in cash or kind which gives a person the right to be carried, regardless of whether or not that right is exercised. It is also regardless of whether or not a profit is made. The payment may be made by the passenger, or on the passenger’s behalf. It may be (a) a direct payment (e.g. a fare) or (b) an indirect payment (this could be an exchange for services such as a membership subscription to a club, payment for a bed in a hotel, school fees or payment for concert tickets where travel is included; the payment does not have to be money and the right to travel does not need to be taken up).
Does it matter
It matters to you, because in such cases where others may be taking payment for vintage vehicles without holding an Operator's Licence, the vehicle on which you might travel may not be roadworthy or correctly insured. Thankfully, it is very easy for you to check.
How to check you're in safe hands
First of all good news, we at Southcoast Motor Services hold a current Operator's Licence. View our Operator's Licence (PK0003438).
If you want to check someone else is a legal operator, you may do so on the UK Government's dedicated web site.
If you think you'd like to learn more, the Government provide a guide, from which part of the wording of this article was written.
Public service vehicle (PSV) operator licensing guide.
Our Covid refund promise means that if you book with us and subsequently have to cancel due to Covid, you will receive a no quibble full refund.
It remains a possibility vehicle seating capacity might be slightly reduced due to any social distancing guidelines in place at the time of your hire.