A campaign has been launched to save the last remaining ‘Accrington Pals’ bus from the scrapheap.
The vintage 1974 Leyland Leopard was part of a fleet of buses painted in the colours of the East Lancashire Regiment to honour the sacrifices of the Pals in the First World War.
It is thought to be one of the last surviving vehicles of its type in the world and the only one left painted in blue melton with a red pinstripe – the original colours of the Regiment.
Campaigners are now aiming to restore the bus to its former glory so it can be used to take children from local schools to places of historical interest, including the Haworth Art Gallery and the Stanhill Heritage Trail.
Businessman Murray Dawson said: “The bus is in a poor state of repair and requires a complete refurbishment.
“However, it is simply unthinkable to many people that this visual link with history is lost forever because it represents the proud identity of the town.
“The plan is to restore the bus to a modern safety standard such as fitting modern safety belts and digital touch screens so that it is available to hire for local schools and organisations.”
Rather than painting the window frames and mudguard cream, transport bosses at the time used black instead to reflect the devastating loss of life suffered by the Pals.
On the first day of the Battle of the Somme in July 1917, at least 584 of the 720 troops who took part were killed, wounded or missing.
Students from local technical colleges with skills in painting, upholstery, mechanics and electrics are being invited to take part in the project.
Once restored the bus would be available for school trips and campaigners say groups including Accrington Stanley supporters have expressed an interest in using it on matchdays.
Murray said: “The bus could be used for events connected with local heritage and civic duties – a visual colour symbol of the town and an important link to its history.
“Used in this way, the bus will be a living example of the transport heritage of the local community and a symbol of civic pride.”
The vehicle will be displayed at this year’s Accrington Food and Drink Festival on Saturday, June 3, for any members of the public interested in joining the restoration process to get involved.