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All aboard as old bus makes its way back to Darlington
FARES PLEASE: Bus enthusiasts Michael Hall, left, and Michael Todd, with the Daimler Fleetline bus, which was in service in Darlington from 1972 to 1994.
A PIECE of the region’s transport heritage has been spared being consigned to the scrapheap and is being restored to its former glory.
The Darlington Bus 50 group has taken ownership of a Daimler Fleetline bus, which carried tens of thousands of passengers on journeys around the town – and further afield – for more than 20 years.
Introduced by Darlington Corporation in 1974, the bus was one of fewer than 350 single-decker examples in the country.
Only a handful of them are still in existence today, the majority having been long since scrapped.
The bus, complete with an advert bearing the slogan ‘Wake up to The Northern Echo’, clocked up an incalculable number of miles – literally, its old speedometer is missing.
It pounded the streets of Darlington until 1994, when the Stagecoach Group won the right to supply bus services in the town, following a controversial bidding process.
Stagecoach later sold its Darlington interests to Arriva, which runs the majority of bus services in the town to this day.
The Darlington Bus 50 group, named after the Daimler’s old Darlington Corporation fleet number, has about 30 members, many of whom are Arriva drivers.
Michael Todd, 42, an Arriva driver, is a member of the group.
He said: “The Daimler was in danger of going for scrap, it is in very good condition for its age.
“It is mobile, but we still need to do a few jobs on it to get it through its next MOT.
“It was very rare when it was in service and it is even more so now.
“We are planning to show it at rallies and similar events.”
The group acquired the bus from the North-East Bus Preservation Trust free of charge, on the understanding that it never goes for scrap while it remains in the group’s ownership.
Mr Todd added: “It was part of the trust’s collection and we brought it back to Darlington from Gateshead about three weeks ago.
“I had the honour of driving it from Rushyford into Darlington town centre – it still drives very nicely.”
The bus has already been booked to participate in events throughout the region, including the Great North Steam Fair, at Beamish Museum, in County Durham, in April.
For more information, visit darlingtonbus50group.yolasite.com or search for Darlington Bus 50 group on Facebook.
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