Barnes marks centenary with new i6 integral

Wiltshire operator Barnes Coaches is celebrating its centenary this year and has taken delivery of a new Irizar i6 integral, finished in the company’s red, green and white livery.

The 12.9m, 53-seat i6 is the first new coach in the fleet to be wheelchair-accessible, with the fitment of a PLS wheelchair lift. 

The specification also includes destination displays and a CCTV system, while touring equipment includes a drinks machine, seat-back tables, magazine nets, USB power-points, and footrests. Entertainment is provided by Bosch Smart Series Audio and twin-monitor Actia DVD players.

Driver and guide seats are leather-upholstered, and the coach is equipped with a vacuum cleaner tinted windows.

A DAF MX-11 270 367 hp engine drives through a ZF EcoLife automatic transmission.

“We have three more new coaches coming soon, one of which will be another Irizar Integral,” says director Luke Barnes. “We specified a wheelchair lift for this vehicle in anticipation of upcoming accessibility legislation, and our fleet is now 90 per cent Euro VI as we see the growth of low emissions zones all around the country, including Bristol and Bath.

“Although we run a multi-make fleet, we like the Irizar integral product, particularly for the technical back-up provided. We maintain our fleet in-house and anticipate keeping this coach for at least five years.”

The Barnes operation began in 1920, when Tommy Barnes linked up Aldbourne with Hungerford railway station, acquiring two carts and six horses from his predecessor Jimmy Martin, and operating from the village square.

By the late 1920s, there were four Ford Model Ts on the fleet, carrying passengers and freight, and the motor fleet expanded through the 1930s.

In the 1950s, the company’s coaches started to provide transportation services for Swindon Town football club, a relationship which continues to this day.

During the 1980s, the company diversified into the holiday business, and in 2000, the Barnes Coaches’ expansion saw it move to new premises at South Marston on the outskirts of Swindon.

The company is now run by brothers Matt and Luke Barnes, the fourth generation of the Barnes family to manage the business.