A historic Hartlepool festive tradition is set to be back on the road next Christmas following a restoration campaign.
Hartlepool’s Santa Bus is hoped to be back on the road to join in next year’s fesitivities after it was saved from the scrap heap.
The 1972 Bristol RE single decker bus, one of only five surviving of its type from the Hartlepool fleet, served the town between 1972 and 1997.
Every year bus company staff decorated the bus with Christmas decorations and placed on the roof a huge model of Santa and played Christmas songs.
After the bus left Hartlepool is was briefly preserved before passing onto a bus dealer who then converted the bus to a mobile social room for Age Concern in East Yorkshire & Humberside, with a wheelchair lift installed.
After a couple of years use with Age Concern, Trent Valley Gliding Club bought the bus and used it as a mobile mess room on the airfield at Kirton In Lindsey, North Lincolnshire from around 2001 to 2016.
After nearly 16 years in use running around the airfield it looked as though the bus was going to go for scrap if a buyer wasn’t found within a month.
But Jonathan Hare and a friend approached the Gliding Club and bought the bus and for a low loader to bring the bus back to Hartlepool. Paul’s Travel has also offered a place to store the bus.
Work is set to start to repair the mechanics and electrics of the bus to get it road worthy during 2017.
Campaigners say that for next Christmas the Hartlepool Santa Bus would once again drive around the streets of Hartlepool.
Jonathan, 33, said. “The Santa Bus was a much loved and cherished icon of Hartlepool. For nearly 25 years it went around the streets in service with Santa and his reindeer on the roof, it was a splendid sight to see.
“You knew it was Christmas when you saw the Santa Bus all decorated and lit up. Children always wanted to go on the Santa Bus, even if the parents had to wait or go on a different service they needed, children always pulled saying they want to go on Santa’s bus.
“My late grandad used to work on the buses when I was a youngster before he had to take early retirement.
“So for my family and myself the Santa Bus holds special meaning to the whole family. So while rescuing a piece of local transport history, I am also rescuing a special piece of family history that holds fond and treasured memories.”