COLCHESTER "TOWN TO PORT" FESTIVAL
SATURDAY 25TH MAY, 2013
The festival took place on King Edward's Quay on Saturday 25 May, from 11 am to 9 pm. Heritage buses from CEPB had agreed to operate a circular service around town linking King Edward Quay to Colchester Castle and Sheepen Road car park (providing a park-and-ride service). A timetable and route map were submitted and drivers and vehicles arranged, so it was disappointing for WAH587S, RGV690W and UVX7S and their crews to arrive at the Hythe and discover that the organisers claimed to have no knowledge of the shuttle bus service and had not publicised it. By 1 o’clock the lack of publicity meant no-one using the pick-up points at the Castle or Sheepen Road. Vehicle parking near the Cadet Ship blocked the only through route and made it too dangerous for buses to manoeuvre. As responsible owners and drivers, we had no choice but to stop on safety grounds. We would be willing to support a future event, but only if a safe route through the site could be guaranteed.
Each year we support the Heritage Open Days and provide a shuttle service from the Hythe, so we know how well these events can work.
One amusing point was when one of our drivers friend pulled up at the Castle and asked two tourists “Is this Colchester Castle? Only I’m not from around here, I’ve come from Wales!”
Provisional routes and timetables
Town to Port Bus Route Town to Port Bus Timetable
The former TS "Colne Light" is a steel navigational lightship built by Phillip & Son Ltd of Dartmouth in 1954. It is now home to the Colchester Sea Cadets and is permanently moored at King Edward Quay, the Hythe. The Hythe was the old port settlement outside Colchester town and is now part of a regeneration project. Some of the Sea Cadets provide guided tours of the lightship and about being a Sea Cadet. On board the lightship are displays of nautical knots where you can learn how to tie some of the simpler knots. Donations are welcome at the end of the tour. You can also pick up information about the Sea Cadets in general. Light refreshments and toilets are also available on the lightship. Please note that there are steep steps and ladders on the lightship (alternative accessible toilet facilities are available near the Castle, a short free bus ride away). The bus stop will be as close to the lightship as possible.
The Hythe (New Hythe), Colchester's port, was originally separated from the town by fields. It began around the 11th century when the port moved north from the old hythe when new quays were built and river navigability improved. Larger ships had to moor in deeper water and cargoes were shuttled to and from Hythe in smaller vessels. The name refers to the inclosure of land when the port was laid out. St. Leonard's church at the Hythe was founded in the early-to-mid 12th century and may originally have been on the edge of the Hythe settlement. The Hythe grew as a port and as a suburb during the 14th century. Most of the houses stood along Hythe Hill or behind the quays, but by the mid 14th century other lanes began to appear. A bridge was built across the Colne at this point in order to link the town and its port to the road to Wivenhoe and Brightlingsea. Today,few of the old warehouses remain and the fields have long since been built over as Colchester expanded.
Colchester Castle keep is the largest keep in Britain, built in stages between 1069 and 1100. It was ordered by William the Conqueror and built on top of an earlier Roman temple (built between AD54-60) and some of the Roman foundations can be viewed on a castle tour. Roman building materials were recycled by the Normans when the castle was built. In 1215 it was captured by King John. After it ceased being a royal castle, it had various uses including a county prison. In 1645, Witchfinder General, Mathew Hopkins imprisoned and interrogated suspected witches here. In 1648, some Royalist leaders during the Second English Civil War were executed outside the castle. It was almost pulled down in 1683, but proved too well-constructed to be easily demolished. In the 1700s it became a private house and the surrounding park was laid out around it. In 1922 the castle and grounds were given to the town as a park and museum. Displays, tours and interactive exhibits, reflect these and other periods of the castle's long history.
The bus stop is in front of Castle Park gates, making this the most scenic location for photographs. There is a 5 minute scheduled break at the Castle. This is the closest stop for the historic Culver Street area in the centre of Colchester and for the Dutch Quarter. It is also convenient for the Hollytrees Museum and for the Natural History Museum in the former All Saints Church.
Toilets and some refreshments are available on the lightship at Hythe Quay. There are toilets near the Castle and plenty of food outlets in town a short walk from the Castle.
No eating or drinking on the buses, please. These heritage vehicles have been lovingly restored by their owners and they want to avoid stains or spillages. You might see the bus crews eating or drinking on buses during layovers, but they're the ones who own and clean the buses!
Because of their age, most of the buses are step entrance, but drivers and conductors are happy to help passengers with pushchairs, wheelchairs or walking aids, or those who are less mobile. Though these older vehicles don't have disabled seating areas, the crew will do their best to accommodate you and help with stowing pushchairs in the luggage areas.