Members of the public will get to voice their views on a campaign to restore a classic ‘Accrington Pals’ bus back to its former glory.
The show-stopping vintage vehicle – a 1974 Leyland Leopard – will be wheeled out for everyone to see at this year’s Accrington Food Festival on Saturday June 3rd.
It is thought to be one of the last known surviving buses of its type in the world . . . and the only one painted in the original colours of the East Lancashire Regiment.
One of the most poignant stories to emerge from World War 1 is that of the Accrington Pals, officially named the 11th Battalion of the East Lancashire Regiment.
In the First Battle of the Somme 720 men from this regiment engaged German forces suffering devastating losses with 638 men listed as killed, missing or wounded.
The colours of the East Lancashire Regiment were blue melton with a red pinstripe and it was in tribute to the regiment that Accrington town’s buses were painted blue and red.
Rather than painting the window frames and mudguard cream, the decision was to use black instead to reflect the mourning of the town for the devastating loss of life.
A modern transport policy has changed the bus fleet – but one bus remains – a 1947 Leyland Leopard.
Murray Dawson, Managing Director of Scott Dawson Advertising, whose agency organises the food festival and is supporting the campaign, says: “The bus is in a poor state of repair and requires a complete refurbishment. However, it is simply unthinkable to many people that this visual link with history is lost forever because it represents the proud identity of the town.
“The plan is to restore the bus to a modern safety standard such as fitting modern safety belts and digital touch screens so that it is available to hire for local schools and organisations. “
As part of Murray’s ongoing civic pride initiative to the area, technical colleges have been invited to help with the restoration using students’ skills such as painters, upholsterers, mechanics and electricians.
Once restored the bus would be available to take children from local school to places of historical interest such as Haworth Art Gallery and Stanhill Heritage Trail.
Local groups such as the Accrington Stanley Supporters have also expressed interest in using it when travelling to local fixtures.
Adds Murray: “The bus could be used for events connected with local heritage and civic duties – a visual colour symbol of the bus of the town and an important link to its history.
“Used in this way the bus will be a living example of the transport heritage of the local community and a symbol of civic pride.”
If any members of the public are interested in finding out more about joining the restoration process, the bus will be on display at this year’s Accrington Food Festival on Saturday June 3rd.