A RECORD number of visitors flocked to the abandoned village of Imber on Salisbury Plain last weekend.

They clambered aboard a fleet of 28 heritage and modern Routemaster Imberbuses to visit the remote village, which is only open to the public for up to 50 days each year.

More than 4,000 people are estimated to have taken advantage of this weekend’s open days to tour the village – which was abandoned in 1943.

Residents were given just 47 days in which to pack up and go to allow American armed forces to train for the D-Day landings in June 1944.

The visitors were transported to Imber on a fleet of 28 heritage and modern Imberbuses loaned for the day by the London Transport Museum, the Bath Bus Company, and other UK bus companies.

Sir Peter Hendy CBE, Chairman of Network Rail and founding member of the Imberbus organising team, said: “We started out with just five buses in the first year and now in 2019 we are using 28 buses.

“Last year, we had more than 3,000 visitors and donated £13,000 to charity.

“We have even got a special charter train coming in from London today with 200 people aboard and have brought in a temporary bus shelter from the London Transport Museum. It will be here for the weekend and gone by Monday.”

This year, the buses took visitors to Imber and other points on Salisbury Plain, including the New Zealand Farm Camp, West Lavington, Market Lavington, Brazen Bottom, Tilshead, Chitterne and the Knook Camp.

For the first time, the buses also served the Delaware Road Festival at New Zealand Farm Camp on Saturday and Sunday.

Aside from 16th Century St Giles’ Church there’s not a lot of the village left to see. Most of the old houses have long since disappeared. The empty shells that remain have tin roofs and no windows or doors and are used by the military for training purposes.

Last year, the event raised £13,000 which was split between the Friends of St Giles’s Church and the Royal British Legion Poppy Appeal.