Happy Harold goes to Ostend in Belgium
Following a successful trip to Ostend to take part in the famous ‘Ostend at Anchor’ celebrations in 2009, Hastings’ own trolleybus was invited back again to an event that displays more than 150 ships and boats of all shapes and sizes and attracts over 250,000 visitors. This year the celebrations coincided with the centenary of the Ostend Raid on May 10th 1818 when HMS Vindictive was scuttled across Ostend Harbour to render the harbour unusable by German Uboats. After the first war the wreck was salvaged by the Royal Naval Salvage Corps who presented the bow section to the town of Ostend who erected it as a fitting and enduring memorial to the brave souls who perished in the action. After the ceremony Happy Harold had the privilege of conveying British Legion veterans who were connected with the action and the had travelled down from North Staffordshire to attend the ceremony, Happy Harold conveyed them back to Ostend from the commemoration. Hastings Borough Council had an attractive stand on the quayside advertising Hastings with well-known Old Town character ‘Tush’ Hamilton demonstrating his skill at the ancient art of net making, and of course Happy Harold assisted in promoting his home town and impressing visitors with the fact that this unique vehicle was not only running but had made its way to Ostend under its own steam (diesel really)
Ion Castro, chair of the Hastings Trolleybus Restoration said, “As you may imagine, it was hard work driving this unique 90-year-old vehicle from Dunkirk to Ostend without the benefit of power steering and, at 15’6” tall, worrying about whether the ‘bus would pull down the tramway overhead and bring Ostend’s tramway system to a grinding halt, but we did have a few inches clearance. I’m very grateful to William Davies, our second driver, for driving us to Dover on the outward journey and to Tom Bewick, the consulting engineer who rebuilt the engine after it seized a few years ago for coming along as a volunteer in case of mechanical mishaps.