Wednesday, 25 November 2015

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Cumbrian woman plans to restore rescued double decker bus

A Cumbrian bus enthusiast has taken on a restoration project of double decker proportions.

Helen Sowerby photo
Helen Sowerby on her bus

Helen Sowerby has rescued a 1983 Leyland Atlantean from the scrap heap and wants to return it to its former glory.

The vehicle had been used as a service bus in Barrow before it was decommissioned and was well on its way to the big terminus in the sky.

That was until Helen stepped in to offer it a reprieve.

“Everyone I know thinks I’m mad,” she said.

“She’s not very attractive, and at the moment something of a wreck, but she is like Bagpuss to my Emily and I love her.”

She got the bus from Barrow Transport Group in September and saved it from being scrapped.

“She was towed up to JB Pickthall at Rowrah and they steam-cleaned her underneath and checked her over to find she’s not in bad nick mechanically.

“I’ve removed all the seats, as they’ll need re-painting and re-covering, and started to clean her out inside, but it’s going to be a long job!”

The plan hit an early snag – finding somewhere to store the 14ft-high vehicle.

But Carlisle storage firm Box Clever has ridden to the rescue and offered to keep the bus at its Kingstown unit.

Helen, who was brought up in Workington where her parents built the now demolished Westlands Hotel, hopes to eventually donate the bus to the Workington Transport Heritage Trust.

Formerly a steam trains buff, she turned her attention to buses after learning about the charity’s work.

“My interest is part of a wider interest in Cumbria’s industrial heritage, which it seems is being ignored and forgotten,” she said.

“All the old pit buildings I grew up with have been demolished and Workington steelworks has been razed to the ground.

“Heritage projects in west Cumbria seem to concentrate on rum and smuggling and forget the 19th and 20th centuries.

“I found the trust have a particular interest in the Leyland National buses, which were built in a factory at Lillyhall, next door to our hotel, when I was a child,

“While Cumberland red is the only bus colour for me really, I became interested in the blue and cream of Barrow corporation, very few of whose buses survive. So when I had the opportunity to acquire one, I couldn’t resist.

“I haven’t got very far yet with my project but I’m determined to get there and make her pretty.”


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