A SCARBOROUGH bus enthusiast is delighted that a vehicle he worked on years ago has been brought back to this country for restoration.
Keith Kitching, of Filey Road, has been lending his support to a campaign to bring a vintage bus home from Belgium.
He and friends from the North East Bus Preservation Trust (NEBPT) have now been successful in repatriating the Bristol-ECW Lodekka THN 263F (L263) after it was found in Melle, near Ghent.
The vehicle was part of the United Automobile Services ﬂeet and was new to United in 1968, working from Scarborough depot.
It was picked up from Belgium with a tow-truck and was landed at Teesport, Middlesbrough.
The bus is now in secure storage and the preservation group is trying to work out where to start with the restoration project, which will be done at their workshops near Washington, Tyne and Wear.
It is hoped to be completed in time for the 100th anniversary next year of the formation of the United bus company.
Mr Kitching said: “I’m over the moon that it’s back where it should be.
“When it’s restored it would be great if it could come down to Scarborough, even just for a day.
“I was a conductor and driver on this bus, so I’d love to have a drive of it!”
He added that the vehicle was brand new in 1968 and was one of the last batch of half-capped double deckers.
There were four in operation in Scarborough at the time, with two serving the town and two in the surrounding countryside.
This was one of the town buses and used to have “113 Scalby Mills” on the front.
The cost of buying the bus and bringing it back to the UK was around £4,500, which was raised by the preservation trust through donations.
Group member Ian Findlay, who co-ordinated the campaign, said: “We are extremely lucky to have found this vehicle and to do nothing was not an option.”
Mr Kitching has also been having his tales of life on the buses published in a vintage transport magazine.
He worked for United in Scarborough from 1969 to 1973, and at 21 was their youngest ever driver.
He has been writing about his exploits and the articles have been picked up by Vintage Road Scene magazine.
It has published a feature about when Mr Kitching worked at RAF Fylingdales and they will also be using an article about his time at United in Scarborough, which will be serialised.
One of the stories goes back to the days before Mr Kitching had his bus drivers’ licence, yet took to the wheel on an empty bus with driver Gordon England.
Anyone interested in vintage buses can find out more at www.nebpt.co.uk
The North East Bus Preservation Trust is a group of over 130 bus and coach enthusiasts dedicated to preserving the vehicles and heritage of the North East of England.
The trust currently owns 17 vehicles.