Luxury on Wheels: ‘Albert’ The Bus Service Between London and Kolkata
Long back in 1968, the royal bus named ‘Albert’ made trips between London and Kolkata. Not only Kolkata, but this bus service also connected London and Sydney, and this royal and exhilarating bus trip is probably the longest in the World.
A Peep into the History
Andy Stewart, a British traveler who worked in Sydney, bought this coach in early 1968. The coach was not in a usable condition after it met with a massive accident in Sydney. Andy Stewart, who was planning to relocate to London after he retired from service, bought this bus and revamped it to a decent mobile home. On October 8, 1968, Stewart and 13 other fellow passengers started their ‘epic adventure’ from GPO in Martin Place, Sydney, to London in Albert. They traversed 16,000-kilometre in 132 days and reached London on February 17, 1969, magnificently. The return journey started in the same year from Bay 1 at Victoria Coach Station in London to Sydney.
The Epic Journey
The journey, famously known as ‘Albert Tour’ was an epitome of adventure, excitement, and thrill. Together, there were 15 Albert tours between London and Kolkata and four between London and Sydney. From 1970, the trip between London and Sydney was through the Khyber Pass, Afghanistan, to avoid communal tensions at Bolan.
The one-way bus fare between Kolkata and London was 85 -145 pounds, which was fairly high in that period. This fare was inclusive of travel, accommodation, and food.
Literally just finding out about the London-Calcutta bus service which apparently existed well into the 70’s. Wow. 😳😳 pic.twitter.com/VZAHtkbwzD
— Rohit K Dasgupta (@RKDasgupta) June 29, 2020
The annual plan for ‘Albert Tour’ was made and published well in advance to help the passengers plan at ease and conveniently. Different trips were designated and numbered so that any passenger finds it easy and seamless to book. The trips which were numbered from 4 to 9 ran between London and Sydney, and the trips numbered from 12-15 connected London and Kolkata. After reaching India, Albert Bus stopped at Delhi, Agra, and Varanasi before reaching the destination Kolkata. Trip to Kolkata was even completed within 49 days, and thus Albert Tours became one of the most popular and favorite trips among those who could afford it.
Luxurious Amenities on the Wheels
If the glamour of luxurious and majestic trips fascinates anyone, then one must glance at the royal amenities that were available inside the bus that made the trip a ‘dream-come-true.’ The lower deck comprises a reading and dining saloon, and the upper deck had a sprawling observation lounge to enjoy the best of road travel experiences. There was an expansive galley for sumptuous and delicious food and personal sleeping bunks and fan heaters for a peaceful and rejuvenating sleep. The rooms had bright and vibrant curtains and carpets to enhance the exquisiteness of the décor. Moreover, for entertainment and recreation purposes, there were provisions for radio music as well.
Albert Tours were known for some extravagant small en-routes like the Ganges in Varanasi, The Taj Mahal, Raj Path, The Blue Danube, The Caspian Coast, The Rhine Valley, Tribal tour of Afghanistan and Communist Bulgaria. Moreover, the trip also included leisure shopping days at Kabul, Istanbul, Vienna, Salzburg, Tehran, and New Delhi.
Albert Tours, the classic bus trip, which is now the new sensation on the internet, was Internationally famed and honored. The bus, which was recognized as the ‘friendly ambassador to all countries’, crossed quite a few International borders on every journey and was greeted and welcomed in every country with respect, delight, and affably.