Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Semmence Move Out

Semmence vehicles at the new depot on Ayton Road
© David Smith
Semmence Coaches have moved out of their depot on 34 Norwich Road, Wymondham to a new site on Ayton Road Industrial Estate. In the past couple of months the dozen withdrawn coaches that had been getting greener and greener at the back of the yard were collected for scrap and the remaining 25 active coaches moved to the new site 2 minutes down the road early August. The current fleet is mainly ex Ambassador Travel motors consisting of B10Ms, Scanias, Javelins and a few Varios. 

Semmence had been at the 34 Norwich Road site for decades. During the mid to late 1990s saw the yard at its peak with around 40 active coaches and a dozen withdrawn ones. Going back a couple of decades further H. Semmence ran articulated lorries as well as coaches from that site. And going back even further Semmence had a car dealership there. The depot consisted of a 5 pit workshop, office, fuel tank, bus wash, steam clean ramp, a bodyshop (although not used in recent times) and space for 50 coaches. A couple of nissan huts (dating back from WW2) were rented out to small businesses. The premises was not included in the sale of the business to Ambassador Travel in 2000. 

A recollection from Semmence driver Richard Edgington: 

Semmence depot in 1991 © Karl Kingston

"I started there in 1977, and Tim Semmence was in charge. There were, as you say, a fleet of several trucks, as well as the coaches, and Friday afternoons around 5p.m. was always a scrap in the yard with coaches & trucks in a contest for the best parking spaces to avoid being blocked in for Monday mornings, plus the fact that in those days, there were coaches out over the weekends regularly. Tim's father Mr Gordon Semmence had, I believe, handed over the bulk of the work to Tim, but was a regular in the yard & would often do school runs himself...
Semmence depot in the late 90s © Andrew Smith
...When I started, the fleet was all Bedfords of various types; the oldest of which dating back to the 1950s. Three, then a fourth one came, of these were six wheelers with four front wheels. I had only been there a couple of years when a couple of Fords were added to the fleet. Then there was an arrival of two service buses, again Bedfords with no power steering. A major battle to maneuver in the small spaces & sharp turns involved in getting into Wymondham High"

The yard will soon be flattened to make way for a medium sized Morrisons supermarket. Opening date by Christmas 2014. 

A huge thanks to David Smith for the extensive report.
The old Semmence depot now sits empty © David Smith