Michelin Memories: The Vintage Bus, Part 2

Michelin Memories is an opportunity for our ex-employee volunteers to share some of their stories with you. In this series we’ll feature recollections from the team alongside images of the documents that sparked these memories off. We’d also be interested to hear about personal memories from our readers – get in touch and we’ll include them here. We’re looking forward to uncovering these stories hidden within the Archive on a regular basis – enjoy!

The Story of Michelin’s Vintage Bus (BIB 9878), Part 2

« Part 1 | Memory contributed by Peter Harding

The finished bus was handed to the Publicity Department in June 1980, whereby a public address (PA) system and hospitality awning were soon fitted. The first driver employed was Arthur Ingram. At this time, it could be driven on a Class 3 licence as long as there were no passengers. When he took the bus out for an overnight event, his wife followed in their VW camper van and also acted as the conductress, issuing tickets to all passengers. Having a UK vintage bus was a great boost for the Publicity Department as they had previously borrowed a replica bus from the Group’s Headquarters in Clermont-Ferrand, France. Our French colleagues had two buses, a Hanomag and a Bitza with a round radiator, both of which were left-hand drive and left a lot to be desired in the gear-change department!

Over the years, though, the bus covered many miles and as time went by the movement in the wooden body caused a number of problems:

  • The large windscreen leaked
  • The felt and bitumen roof covering leaked water into the lower saloon
  • The seats and upper deck sides were fastened through the roof
  • The lower saloon window lift mechanisms broke (replacements were unobtainable)
  • The PA system and awning became difficult to use

To address the leaking water problem the Potteries Motor Traction Co Ltd (PMT), the local Potteries bus company for many years, came to our aid. Their team stripped the upper deck and covered it over with a sheet of aluminium and then resealed the bolt holes that held the upper deck, sides and seats. The windscreen was resealed too but this did not last long, so you had to drive wearing waterproofs, if there was any chance of rain! In addition, the vertical lift windows were fixed closed to avoid further issues.

When Arthur Ingram finished, circa 1983, a driver named Pat O’Meara was engaged, but he did not drive for very long. In those days, the bus was based at Michelin’s Publicity Store, then at Talke, north of Stoke. After my retirement, I made a number of corporate visits with it and one or two factory Open Days for the Publicity Department. When Service W closed the bus was maintained variously by Kays of Stoke, the PMT and finally Basset Roadways, who also provided a driver.

“Driving” onto the ferry in 2008, headed for France
Addendum from Michelin UK’s Heritage Manager

After a long and popular service for Michelin UK, this spectacular bus retired to France in 2008 and is now part of the Michelin Group’s vintage vehicle collection at Cataroux, Clermont-Ferrand. She still occasionally makes star appearances at certain European events, where Michelin has a presence, and has even popped back to Blighty a couple of times (on a trailer through, as the top speed is only about 25 mph!). A huge team effort over the years and surely a labour of love – well done to all involved!

A visit home to Blighty to guest at Goodwood Revival 2009