ONE of the quirkiest bus services in the country is set to return to the abandoned village of Imber on the edge of Salisbury Plain.

Hundreds of day trippers will make their way to Imber on Saturday (August 19) on a fleet of London red double-decker buses. 

The service is set to resume for the 14th year to enable visitors and former residents to visit St Giles’s Church and the empty cottages and houses.

Villagers were forced to abandon their homes in November 1943 ahead of the D-Day landings the following June and were never allowed back.

Peter, Lord Hendy of Richmond Hill, and Imber in the County of Wiltshire, said: “For the fourteenth year we are welcoming passengers aboard one of the quirkiest bus services in the country - to see places they can’t normally access.

The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald: A fleet of London red buses make their way to Imber. A fleet of London red buses make their way to Imber. (Image: Freelancer)

"Everyone's welcome; my colleagues and I are looking forward to seeing you on Saturday 19th August.”

The village has stood empty for almost 80 years since Imber was emptied of its residents during the Second World War and was used to train Allied forces in preparation for D-Day.

But when the war ended in 1945, the residents weren't allowed to return.  To this day, the British Army still uses the village to train. 

Residents and visitors flock back to the village for each of the open days authorised by the Ministry of Defence.

For one day every year, they are able to access the village on a fleet of London red open-top buses, using the Imber Bus Service.

The bus service has been in operation since 2009, with visitors being picked up outside Warminster Railway Station and run directly over military-owned roads to the historic site. 

Tourists and former residents will be able to explore some of the village’s remaining buildings including a handful of houses and cottages. 

Apart from the restored church, most of the buildings have been damaged during years of close combat and live fire training. 

Despite the damage to the buildings, last year 2,000 people visited the abandoned village for the day last year.

They raised almost £17,000 for the church, the RBL and other charities related to those who help Imberbus. This year’s event will again support these same charities.

The buses are set to run every 15 minutes from 9.45am with tickets costing £10 for a full-paying adult and £2 for a child. 

Ticket costs go towards supporting the upkeep of the village's abandoned St.Giles's Church and the Royal British Legion.

The buses serve Tilshead, Chitterne, New Zealand Farm Camp, West Lavington, Market Lavington and Brazen Bottom running twice an hour throughout most of the day.

They will run as an ordinary bus service with no advance booking required and no need to reserve a seat. Low-floor buses with access for those with mobility impairments form part of the service. 

Tickets can be purchased on the day from staff outside Warminster station, or with cash only from the bus conductors.

Like last year, access to Imber on Saturday will only be possible by Imberbus.

People wishing to visit Imber any other way will need to wait until the next time the military roads will be open to vehicles, walkers and cyclists, likely to be on the late August Bank Holiday weekend. 

Car parking will be available at Warminster railway station and central car park, with an overflow at the top of Sack Hill. There is no parking at Tilshead, Chitterne or Gore Cross.

For more information, click here.