Norwich to the Shetland Isles: Vintage bus on 1,000 mile journey home

The restored bus. Photo: Team Shetland Coach Trip

The restored bus. Photo: Team Shetland Coach Trip - Credit: Archant

Cruising along at 35mph might sound like a leisurely drive home to most of us. But Nick Taylor is driving most of the length of the UK - over 1,000 miles - at this speed, and this is no ordinary journey.

The vintage coach at Norwich Cathedral. Photo: Team Shetland Coach Trip

The vintage coach at Norwich Cathedral. Photo: Team Shetland Coach Trip - Credit: Archant

Mr Taylor, who his in his sixties, bought a vintage Bedford coach in 2011 and has been lovingly restoring it at his home in Suffolk ever since.

A visit from the coach's former driver, James Watt, convinced Mr Taylor that the bus belonged back on the Shetland Islands, where it had been used a school bus and delivery vehicle from 1950 to 1979. The two men set off from Norwich Cathedral to return the bus to its home off the coast of Scotland. They received a blessing from the Bishop of Norwich before departing, and the unlikely roadtrip will end on June 23, when they arrive on the island. The route will take them to the Shetland Isles via Lincolnshire, across the Lake District and up the west coast of Scotland.

The bus has a maximum speed of 40mph, and the two men will be assisted by a team of ten, including professional coach driver Ivan Robertson, and the Rev Michael Kingston, who is in charge of the route.

Mr Taylor said: 'I was moved by the emotion John showed at seeing his coach once more. It was clear that many on the Islands remember the coach; it took them to school, to dances, weddings and funerals.'

The route covered today. Photo: Team Shetland Coach Trip

The route covered today. Photo: Team Shetland Coach Trip - Credit: Archant


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He added: 'The coach has no heater so John Watt would provide a blanket for each of the passengers during cold winter days. John even recalls who was responsible for a cigarette burn on one of the seats!'

In another surprising connection, Nettie, a close friend of Mr Taylor's wife Kay, had grown up in Shetland, and remembered being taken to school on the bus, even recalling the seat she had chosen as a child.

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The bus will be donated to the Shetland Commercial Vehicle Preservation Trust, which has pledged to ensure the bus is maintained in its current condition. Jacqueline Crawley, an investment manager at Vesta, and one of the sponsors of the trip, said that the journey would be 'a trip down memory lane for all involved'.

Progress can be followed at: http://www.shetlandcoachtrip.co.uk/index.php.

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