A HOST of vintage commercial vehicles gathered under an azure sky for the annual Cumbria Easter Rally at the weekend.

The village of Brough and nearby market town of Kirkby Stephen, in the Eden Valley, were invaded by classic buses, coaches, and an assortment of other public service vehicles as part of the event, now in its 21st year.

There were children’s rides, craft stalls, and a free (vintage) bus service between the various sites and exhibits.

One of the highlights of the event was a ‘road run’ on the Saturday - beginning at Brough and following a route taking in Ash Fell and the villages of Little and Great Ashby.

The Westmorland Gazette: Conductor Jordan Higgins aboard a 1959 Bristol Lodekka (Picture: Nanette Rigg)Conductor Jordan Higgins aboard a 1959 Bristol Lodekka (Picture: Nanette Rigg)

It was organised by Encounter Eden Limited, a not-for-profit social enterprise set up in 2017 to help sustain and develop the economy in south-east Cumbria.

The event appears to have been a big success, with more than 250 vehicles taking part. Nanette Rigg, director for Encounter Eden and Event Producer for the Rally, said: “We have had a number of thank-you emails [from attendees] coming in saying they have never seen Kirkby Stephen so busy.”

She added: “It’s better doing anything when there is blue skies, and we were blessed with the most beautiful weather... last Easter it was the Beast from the East, and this year we all got burnt noses!”

Highlights for Miss Rigg included a 1949 Bedford road maintenance vehicle, as well as a 1936 Austin which once functioned as a fruit and veg van (pictured below). The Austin was parked-up on Kirkby Stephen’s Market Street, with the back doors open and baskets of plastic fruit and veg on display.

The Westmorland Gazette: 1936 Austin 7 van (Picture: Maurice Hall)1936 Austin 7 van (Picture: Maurice Hall)

“All the exhibitors got into the spirit... you had vans, wagons, tractors, buses, Land Rovers - all of them” said Miss Rigg.

The Easter Rally was set-up in 1999 by Will and Claire Hamer, who had founded hire company Cumbria Classic Coaches the previous year. The pair began the event as a hobby and it grew from that point onwards.

Miss Rigg added: “What I would like to say is a huge thank-you to the communities who get involved and volunteers.”