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Saturday 11th June 2011 ~ Back Seat for the X1

Yes, once again today, the X1 is taking a back seat in the blog. Today as we briefly mentioned yesterday, marked the withdrawal of 'First' from local operations at King's Lynn. A small crowd of enthusiasts gathered to mark the event and after work, I was able to join Andy James & co to witness the final rundown of operations.
This seemed an ideal opportunity to make use of a gift from 'First' themselves. Following the Anglia TV item recently, Colin Booth kindly arranged for me to be the recipient of a 'First' VIP pass entitling me to free travel on 'First' buses throughout the country. This came as a complete surprise to me and needless to say, I am very grateful for the generosity of all those concerned at the company.
Our first trip of the evening was on a service 42 to Fairstead Estate with Scania 65532 and Des took this photo of me presenting the aforementioned pass to 65532's driver Emlyn.

Once again a big thank you to all concerned. Des and myself enjoyed our trip on the 42 and were impressed with Emlyn's driving around some of the tight clearances in parts of Fairstead. Back at the bus station,  Des departed for Yarmouth, but not as a passenger, instead taking Volvo B7TL 30887 which was the first of the local buses to depart for pastures new. Here it is having a breather on the Swaffham bypass....

Meanwhile I decided to travel to Hunstanton on one of the final trips operated by 'First'. My bus was 30901 driven by Andy who seemed to know the route like the back of his hand - not surprising really, as I discovered he had lived much of his life in Heacham and was just about as local a chauffeur as I could get. Like the other town drivers, his next shift will be as a Norfolk Green employee.
The journey was most enjoyable and the only slight disappointment was the reprehensible behaviour of a group of teenagers at the rear of the top deck on the return journey. They left the vehicle in a terrible mess.
Here is 30901 during its short layover at Hunstanton.

30901 ended up being the last 'First' service to operate via Sandringham and it was also the final service worked by a double decker, as the remaining trips were all Scanias.
This really was the end and on arrival back at Lynn, the offices/canteen at the bus station were being emptied of 'First' belongings, most of which were then relocated to Vancouver Avenue. Here a new portacabin on the site of the old car park will now be the home for Rosie and her colleagues displaced from the bus station. X1 crew changes will take place in the vicinity of the South Gates.
Here is the last service to Fairstead at 20.05 (left) and the final Hunstanton at 20.15 with Driver Frost at the helm of Scania 65528.

So from now on at King's Lynn, the Excel X1 will be alone in flying the 'First' flag. There have been various rumours flying around of course, but one which has not been heard much is the theory that if good times return and the recession ends, 'First' could be back big time. We will have to wait and see of course.
Now to the X1 and a quiet day operationally with an entirely Gemini operated service. 37158 was removed from L8 as it should be serviced on Monday and 37569 was provided as replacement. Here are a few pictures from today.

Des says "Who is that guy taking a photo of the X1 at the South Gates roundabout ?"

Well just to prove it, it was Des himself and here is the picture of 37571 on K17.

Grahame Bessey took over 300 shots at King's Lynn today, here's a fine one of 37565 working Y13 11.45 to Peterborough.

           37566 arrives to work K14 12.15 to Peterborough, while L8 12.02 to Lowestoft loads with 37569.                            Photo : Grahame Bessey

37564 arrives at Wisbech on Y6 08.48 to Peterborough, as Emblings E901KYR heads for March standing in for a single decker and leaves a smokescreen over the Horsefair.

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