AN ACCRINGTON Pals memorial bus has been restored in time to celebrate a very special anniversary.

Lovingly nicknamed Ermintrude by her new owners, the 80-year-old bus is the only former Accrington Corporation bus still licensed to take to the roads and carry passengers in the UK.

Like all Accrington Corporation buses after World War One, Ermintrude was originally painted in blue and red to commemorate the regimental colours of the Accrington Pals, who were lost in the battle of the Somme.

For years, buses painted in these special colours were a common sight on the streets of Accrington, but they largely disappeared when buses were deregulated.

Ermintrude was sold on and repainted but now has been restored.

The renovation of the classic Dennis ES type motor coach, by Suffolk-based coach company the Buckland Omnibus Company, is a celebration of her 80th birthday, which is also being marked with special tours.

Co-owner Tony Buckland said he first laid eyes on Ermintrude 21 years ago as she sat on show at a nightclub in Stoke-on-Trent.

He then went to great lengths to get the bus after buying it, removing the roof off the building and hoisting her away.

His “labour of love” has a top speed of 30mph and has been renovated, re-roofed and repainted in time for a series of celebratory trips through the Suffolk countryside this month.

He said: “When it came time to do her renovation I thought she should have her original colours. I think it’s appropriate to see her back in red and blue, as she was in 1929.

“The Accrington Corporation had painted the entire fleet in memory of the Pals.

“Likewise, we thought we would put on a series of tours giving people a chance to see and experience her in all her glory.”

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