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Crowds At Alexander Dennis’s Factory To See Specialist Vehicle Innovation New And Old

Published on: 11 May, 2019
Updated on: 12 May, 2019

By David Rose

An impressive array of specialist vehicles old and new were on display at Alexander Dennis’ factory at Slyfield on Saturday (May 11). And a huge amount of people of all ages came to feast their eyes on them.

Buses galore at Alexander Dennis’ open day on Saturday, May 11. Click on pictures to enlarge in a new window.

The UK’s leading bus manufacturer threw open the doors of its chassis plant to celebrate more than 120 years of innovation in Guildford.

Inside the factory.

Visitors were able to walk through the factory and marvel at the modern way of vehicle production – light years from when brothers John and Raymond Dennis founded their business in Guildford at the end of the 19th century.

Having the option to walk around at leisure or join one of the guided tours, there was plenty to see with staff on hand to explain the work undertaken.

Visitors fascinated in the Alexander Dennis chassis plant at Slyfield, Guildford.

There was also a fascinating selection of vintage photographs and details charting the history of the original firm Dennis Bros and its well remembered 32-acre factory at the foot of Woodbridge Hill. It closed when the business transferred to its new purpose-built factory at Slyfield in 1991.

Alexander Dennis’s Claire Barrett was one of the principal organisers of the event. Careful planning made sure there was something to see and do for all ages. There was certainly a fun-filled festival atmosphere and Claire said she was delighted with the huge turn out of visitors.

To assist visitors were connecting bus services to and from Woking and Guildford stations, and off-site free parking at Jacobs Well and Ladymead.

John Dennis with his 1902 Dennis motor-car. His grandfather, also John Dennis, founded the firm with brother Raymond.

In the factory’s own car park were examples of Alexander Dennis’s current buses, plus plenty of vintage Dennis Bros buses, fire engines, lawn mowers, all dating back through the 20th century, and even three early motor-cars.

Adding enjoyment to the historical aspect, were vintage bus trips around the local area.

A pair of vintage Dennis Bros fire engines. on display.

Everything on the day was free. Included were refreshments, goodie bags, the bus trips, and an illustrated booklet charting the history and development of the business.

It is impossible to say just how many men and women over the years have been employed in Guildford by the world famous Dennis firm – it must be in their thousands. Without doubt former employees came to the event along with others whose family members once worked for the firm.

A Dennis Falcon single-decker in East Kent bus company livery.

Included among the latter is me! My paternal grandfather George Kings came to work for Dennis Bros in its early years. I had two uncles who worked for the firm for many years, along with other family members on my mother’s side of the family.

In fact, my mum worked for Dennis during the Second World War and my dad went to work there for a few years in the 1980s before he retired.

My parents were able to go to the firm’s centenary celebrations in 1995 held at the Surrey County Show in Stoke Park.

If they, and especially my grandfather, could have been here at this event they would have marvelled at this factory. They would have also been proud to see that light engineering, that was once so prolific in the Guildford area but has now largely disappeared, does, at this site at least, continue.

Below is a gallery of pictures from the event.

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test 2 Responses to Crowds At Alexander Dennis’s Factory To See Specialist Vehicle Innovation New And Old

  1. Dave Middleton Reply

    May 12, 2019 at 3:19 pm

    I spent an enjoyable and informative couple of hours at the open day. Many thanks to Dennis’ for opening their doors to the public, to all the staff and volunteers who helped make the event and to all the exhibitors of vintage vehicles who helped to make it a fascinating day. I hope nobody’s upholstery got too soggy in the showers!

  2. Gerry Bixley Reply

    May 12, 2019 at 6:05 pm

    Well done. Nice to see so many interested people and a good report by yourself.

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