My cousin, with many connections to Sheffield, was on holiday with her husband near Rye on the south coast this year, and came across a little piece of Sheffield history in the form of a coach body from around the early 1900s.
The first thing they saw on arrival was the coach, beautifully painted in the blue and cream livery that my cousin recognized as the old Sheffield bus colours.
The Sheffield bus colours looked so out of place on the East Sussex coast, and the gentleman who lived there saw their interest, and called them over to look closer.
Peter Roberts acquired the coach body in 2005 and had lovingly cared for it ever since. He said it had been used as a residence for some time, having made the journey south probably between the two world wars, and that it was the first bus with pneumatic tyres to run in Sheffield early in the 1900s but was displaced by the advent of the trams.
It came to London where its British Leyland chassis and engine were used to make a builder’s lorry, while the coach body travelled further south to Pett Level where it was mounted on a farm cart frame and used as a holiday home.
When they bought it Peter Roberts and his wife, Joy Spandley, moved the coach body to its current south-facing plot and set about restoration. The inside is lined with the original teak, and there is now a well-appointed kitchen and bathroom. It had been lovingly restored to a very comfortable home, and Mr Roberts is obviously a very skilled craftsman.
Since my cousin’s first meeting with the owner, she has obtained from him further details about his bus. It went into service in 1922, as service number 31, and was taken out of service in 1927, probably due to the introduction of the electric tram.
His wife Joy has recently passed away, so at great expense he has had the fancy paint trim and coat of arms restored by a coachwork painter in her memory, and added “General Manager – Joy Spandley”.
He would love this account to go into an article in the city from which the bus came, as it is his pride and joy, especially since he lost Joy.