It’s not often that you hear a tale of such generosity as the one about Nick Taylor and the Bedford bus in the world of vehicle restoration. Nick bought the 1950s Bedford OB coach in 2011 for £27,000 and set about restoring to a very high standard in his home town of Weybread in Suffolk, returning it to how it would have looked in it’s glory days.
Researching the vehicle’s origins, Mr Taylor began to put flesh and bones to the story of the old bus. He discovered that the vehicle actually had its origins as a lifeline for the people of Shetland from the fifties until the seventies, where it was used to carry groceries and ferry passengers and schoolchildren for many years.
John Watt was one of the original drivers of the Bedford starting in 1968, where he began an 11-year driving connection with the classic bus and very quickly realised how dependent the people were on his Bedford route. The Shetland bus carried out its duties from 1950 until 1979.
Mr Watt, now 71 and still driving buses, had the pleasure of visiting Nick Taylor in 2013 to see the restored bus in all its former splendour. Following Mr Watt’s visit, Nick decided that the coach deserved to be back home where it had served its community so well and was still so fondly remembered.
So with plans in place for a very long (sat nav free) journey, the bus takes to the open road on Monday 12th June leaving from Norwich Cathedral (after being blessed by the local bishop) to arrive back in Shetland a couple of weeks later.
The 40mph, 6-cylinder 28 horsepower petrol bus will travel around 100 miles a day and take a scenic route via the Norfolk coast, Lincolnshire, the Lake District, the west of Scotland and the Orkneys to arrive at its old home once more by (hopefully) 22nd June after travelling around 1,000 miles.
The Bedford OB model dates back to 1939 where it began life as replacement for the outgoing Bedford WTB. The OB had a Luton built chassis length of 14’ 6” and there were two versions to carry either 26 or 29 passengers on its plush (for the time) coach seats. A rather nice feature was a large sliding sunroof atop the front passenger end. The two-colour liveried Bedford coach originally cost between £1,314 and £1,325.
This classic 4-speed manual bus is actually a relatively rare beast, having production interrupted by the 2nd World War. Production continued following the war, and a total of just 12,766 units were built until manufacturing ceased in 1951; only 73 of this total were pre-war. The bus contained more wood that you might suspect too, with a steel reinforced ash frame and a hardwood floor. Perhaps this might account for there being only around 80 of these lovely vehicles left on the road today.
Once the much-loved bus arrives back in Shetland, it will be handed over to the Shetland Commercial Vehicle Preservation Trust and will be wheeled out for special events and occasions. All in all, a nice start, middle and end to this particular Bedford bus’s story.
You can now enter the Motor-Vision Awards for a chance to win up to £20,000 to make your motoring dream become a reality. So if you have a similar restoration project to Nick, or any other motoring ideas, check out the Motor-Vision Awards at www.motor-vision.co.uk/latest-news/motor-vision-awards/