FIRST West of England’s Wells bus depot will hold an open day on Saturday, September 25, to celebrate two centenaries.

The event will not only mark 100 years of buses running in England’s smallest city, but also nearly 100 years since the depot first opened.

Buses started operating in Wells in August 1920 while the depot, on Priory Road, opened in January 1922.

First West of England is celebrating both events on the same day after the pandemic meant last year’s centenary couldn’t be marked.

The buses are essential to the city, connecting Wells to Bristol, Bath, Weston-super-Mare, Shepton Mallet and Glastonbury.

They include the Mendip Xplorer 376, 11th on the list of the most beautiful bus routes in the UK in a Bus Users UK poll in 2018.

The open day, which is open to everyone, will run from 10am to 2pm at the depot.

Visitors will get to see vintage buses in action and even take a short ride, meet the depot team, hear from local historians, and take away a treat to remember the day.

Today the depot has a close-knit staff of more than 60 people keeping more than 25 buses operating in and around Wells.

Ollie Edwards, operations supervisor, has been working at the depot for 17 years.

He said: “There’s a real family feel among the colleagues here.

"Wells is a place for which everyone at the depot has fond feelings.

"There is something special about doing work that supports the local community, whether that is driving buses to get people to work, to the shops, or answering questions from tourists.

"It’s brilliant to think that we are a part of a depot that has been doing the same tasks for the past 100 years, even if the technology has moved on a bit."

Over the past century, a host of different services and bus routes have come and gone.

The old double de-clutch buses with tiny wing mirrors have been replaced by vehicles with modern technology.

Today’s buses are mainly ultra-clean diesel to Euro VI standard with fully automated ticketing systems.

Rob Sanderson, operations manager, said: “We are using this milestone as an opportunity to connect with those with fantastic memories of the buses in Wells and inviting people to drop into our open day and find out more.

“We really appreciate the vibrant community spirit and history of Wells. Our local people are what makes our work so enjoyable. We’re hoping to gather and share these memories as we move into our second century of operating.”