The Ipswich Flyer January '23 | Flyer Magazines

The Ipswich Flyer January 2023

In the Ipswich January 2023 edition has an update from Councillor John Cook, Mayor of Ipswich. And we also have an update about Warm Spaces at St Augustine’s Ipswich. As well as an articles from local groups and schools.

Ipswich Flyer – Ipswich Transportation Museum January update

Our 1932 Bedford WLB bus is in the final throes on an extensive restoration.  The vehicle has been extensively rebuilt, having spent forty years in storage as a ‘potential project’.  The problem was that the survival of the bus was as a result of an aborted conversion to a mobile tea bar.  That work, which commenced in the 1960s, got as far as stripping out the interior, painting the outside and applying the name ‘The Pink Elephant’ on the sides.  As it turned out, the Pink Elephant was actually a white one.

Enter stage left the pioneering preservationists of the day.  This was pre-museum proper – at that stage the fledgling collection was stored all over the place in whatever accommodation could be found – barns, sheds, orchards and fields.  By 1991 the WLB was safely under cover at Priory Heath depot, and in a bit of a state – nothing more than a dismantled shell, with the engine in bits.

In 2015, the Dennis Ace Bus restoration team were coming to the end of that (55 year!) project.  They fancied the idea of doing another small bus, and the WLB was in the limelight at last.  We had one original seat to copy (we needed 20!), most of the exterior bodywork and a spare engine.  Ironically, the biggest challenge we have, is what colour to paint it.  The vehicle operated for Foreman of Orford during the forties and fifties, having being acquired from an operator in Wiltshire.  We think it should be green, possibly with a dark green or grey roof.

Our problem is that we have no photographs to work from.  We have a very distant view of the vehicle in Orford, with the bottom half obscured.  And that, as far as I know, is it!  A bit of archaeological detective work on the existing bodywork and panel shuts have revealed traces of the green paint, which we have colour matched to.  As to the style of lettering, lining out or other ornamentation – at the moment we’re very much in ‘interpretation’ mode.  We have no doubt that as soon as it’s finished someone will brandish a photograph and we’ll be able to say ‘ahhh – so that’s what it should look like!’.

In the meantime, the restoration work will continue – we’re expecting seats back from the upholsterers soon, and then the inside is pretty much complete.  Once the weather is a bit better (no heating in our workshop) we’ll finish the painting and hopefully, by the time we reopen in March 2023, they’ll be another shiny restoration to admire.  Then the road testing can commence…

The museum is closed during the winter period, to allow us to rearrange things and carry out improvements to the museum.  Our calendar for 2023 will be available early in the new year – please keep an eye on our website or Facebook page for updates –

Mark Smith.