At the moment preserved in First Group's livery, Bristol VR 38749 (AFJ 749T) was one of 10 new ‘double deckers’ delivered to Western National in Cornwall in 1979 in standard NBC green. Originally she carried fleet number 1147 and was allocated to the Truro depot, then situated on Lemon Quay, along with 'sisters' 1142 (AFJ 744T) and 1144 (AFJ 746T).
She has been painted in nearly all the liveries used and has been based at most of the depots in Cornwall and even for a short time, was stationed at both Dartmouth and Plymouth. Eventually she was re-numbered 38749 by First before being retired in June 2006 at which time she was looking in desperate need of attention (see picture below at Camborne). However, she was re-painted into 'Barbie' livery to attend with others, the Final VR Running Day held at Penzance in December 2006 as representitive of what was known as 'The Heritage Fleet'.
In 2007, First donated the bus to the Cornwall Bus Preservation Society so that in preservation, she could remain in the County she had served so well.
After several years stored 'off the road', we managed to replace the upper deck seats with those in Autumn Gold trim during 2012. The aim then was to get 38749 ready for an MOT and this was achieved just before the 2013 Running Day at Penzance where she was again very popular with the enthusiasts. Sadly it would appear that her period of storage had not done her any good and the engine was down on power and not firing properly. Further investigation revealed that the engine either had to be rebuilt or replaced.
During 2019, we managed to find and purchased a second hand Gardner engine for the VR and we were also able to move 38749 to our base at Troon to await attention on the poorly engine.
Following a detailed examination of the Gardner engine by our 'engineering officers', the decision was made to save the acquired Gardner engine and rebuild the one in the bus. Work commenced during 2021, removing the Gardner unit and stripping the engine down to reveal a broken piston. Work continued until near the end of 2022 when the repairs were completed and the engine was returned to the VR (a big thank you to Derek and his team for their hard work).
Engineering work continues on 38749 during 2023 and the aim is to get her back on the road soon as possible when time and resources permit. We intend to prepare 38749 to receive a new colour scheme when she returns to the road.