Happy to be on the buses

TRANSPORT buff Alan Smalley has gone from driving buses to restoring them.

Where once he drove passengers around Worksop for the East Midlands bus company, now he spends his time bringing vintage vehicles back to life.

Alan, 70, has had a passion for buses and trains since being a young lad.

He does his restoration work alongside his friend Tom Simpson, who was a bus driver in Sheffield.

Together they have set up Cosy Coach Tours, hiring out vintage vehicles for weddings and other special events.

The pair have recently completed a 1948 Bedford OB which they found in Perth, Scotland, and which they have restored to its former glory.

Alan, of Stanley Street, Worksop, said: “We stripped it down and got some structural work done and then put it back together.”

“It took about a year, working mostly at weekends.”

The bus runs on petrol and does about 12 miles to the gallon, with a top speed of about 50mph.

“I drove it all the way to Glasgow once and it was fine, it’s great to drive,” said Alan.

It’s not a cheap hobby though. Alan said vintage vehicles can cost around £2,000 to buy and then cost a further £15,000 to renovate.

He and Tom have several vehicles which they keep at a secret location.

To the untrained eye they look like they are ready for the scrapyard, but to those in the know they are rare treasures.

There is a 1955 Doncaster doubledecker and the oldest AC Regent Five in the country, the same make as a London bus.

They also have three of only 30 Crossleys left in the world, including the only Mark Six which they plan to restore next year.

Alan has had a multitude of jobs over the years, including having his own professional photography business on Gateford Road.

He has also worked as a lorry driver and was once chief projectionist at Worksop’s old Gaiety picture house up until it closed to become a bingo hall.

“I’ve done all sorts to earn a living,” said the married father-of-three sons.

He is also a bit of a train spotter and makes name plates for steam locomotives.

Tom, 63, of Killamarsh, said he grew up with buses.

“We were brought up in an age when everyone relied on public transport. My parents never had a car,” he said.

“Buses got into my blood and I’ve always been interested in them since being small.”

“I was a bricklayer originally but packed it in to become a bus driver for the old South Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive and then I moved to Booth and Fisher at Halfway.”

Tom said the restored Bedford bus was built the year he was born and was only intended to last ten years.

“It’s quite an achievement that she’s still going strong 63 years later.”

“She has a 1930s art deco style because during the Second World War bus production was stopped and no new buses were designed, so after the war when this one was made they just put old plans back into production.”

“The last Bedford was made in 1952.”

To find out more about hiring the bus go to www.cosycoach.co.uk or call 0114 248 9139.