A milestone in transport and restoration history was reached on Friday 19th October 2018 – the autocar and autocoach were formally launched into service by Sir Ron Cooke, Chair of Yorkshire and Humber Heritage Lottery Fund Committee and Stephen Middleton, Chairman of this Trust. Midday saw the autocar declared operational in front of approximately 150 members and guests. Shuttle services were run from Embsay station, with many travelling several times. Later, two return trips were made to Bolton Abbey. Feedback from our guests and the press was very positive and many compliments paid over the quality of the restoration.
As with any restoration project, there are many people and organisations who have played a part, whether actively or in other ways. Sir Ron Cooke quoted an interesting statistic: to fund our grant of £531,000, approximately six million Lottery tickets had been sold. I have been a member and volunteer for nine years and can think of various volunteers who have contributed a lot of time, skills and/or funds, often at considerable sacrifice, yet without the Lottery players and the grant, we would not have a working autocar today. However you helped, whatever your contribution, great or small, our thanks to you all.
Although we’re now operational, we won’t be resting on our laurels! Regular public services will begin in 2019 and there are still some improvements and refinements to be made, fitting heating to the autocar, lining the autocoach and fitting luggage racks. Even when these final tasks are complete, we will still need volunteers, including for maintenance and to act as hosts for passengers, to explain the autocar’s engineering and historical significance. If you can help, you will be most welcome.