This Bristol VR with fleet number 1003 (VDV 141S) is a 1978 convertible open topper, one of 11 delivered to Western National/Devon General between November 1977 and March 1978. All of this batch were named after famous warships including 1003 which was originally numbered 941 and was named 'Illustrious'. When new, they were all painted in NBC red and white livery.
Only 943 (VDV 143S) 'Ark Royal' at Falmouth depot and 944 (VDV 144S) 'Vanguard' at Penzance depot were allocated to Western National in Cornwall. Initially, 941 worked in the Torbay area of Devon but when the demand for 'open topped' vehicles in Cornwall increased, she was transferred with sister vehicle, 937 (VDV 137S) 'Victory' to the Newquay depot to operate Newquay - Pentire - Newquay.
After several years in Newquay, she was transferred to Penzance depot which operated the only 'open topped' service left, Penzance - Lands End - St Ives - Penzance. 941 has carried most liveries adopted by the Company and was re-numbered as 1003 before she was chosen to be painted in brown and cream 'GWR' livery in 2003 to commemorate 100 years of the Helston to The Lizard service. The Centenary event was held in August on the very date that heralded the start of the service 100 years previously. A very large entry of former Western National buses from all over the south west gathered at Helston School before being led off by 1003 in a cavalcade of some 20 vehicles, the like of which will probably never be seen in Helston or The Lizard ever again. 1003 is now preserved in the GWR colour scheme and has been kept busy each year attending the annual Bus Running Day at Penzance in April and also the Kingsbridge Running Day in September to name but two events. This bus is still very popular with the enthusiasts wherever she goes.