Bringing a little bit of Stroud’s bus history back to life.An unusual part of Stroud’s bus heritage was restored for future generations to enjoy by a small group of Nottingham enthusiasts who wished to see a classic double deck bus back on the road. And in what was an emotional event, 10 years after its withdrawal, the bus made a welcome returned to its old haunt. 70 seat Bristol FLF “Lodekka” FHU 59D was for ten years the Stroud Carol Bus. The bus and its predecessor Bristol double decks were a regular and eagerly awaited feature of Stroud’s Christmases, as they toured the estates and villages of the area, raising as they did many thousands of pounds for charities. The buses found themselves in many villages not normally seeing double deck operations. It and its predecessors also joined the annual carnival in the town on Stroud Show day. On Saturdays before Christmas the Carol Bus would sit in Stroud Bus Station at the then layover area and play carols via the speakers powered by onboard generators. During the 1970s, on the last Saturday before Christmas, local Nailsworth Brass Band would assist the committee and join with bus driving Father Christmas in raising funds by playing carols under the former escalator of Stroud bus station. Often lavishly decorated by local school children—schools taking it in turns—and always abundantly illuminated, the practice ceased in Stroud in 1993 as it became increasingly difficult to raise the necessary volunteers in what had become a very different bus operating climate and one with fewer staff from whom to draw.
This was was one of two FLF Lodekkas used at Stroud as a carol bus but the first Stroud carol bus arrived in 1969 and was a Bristol KSW with a plate clearly displaying the words “Not to be used on Princes Street Bridge”, because of the vehicle's width.First registered in February 1966, FHU 59D itself is a standard Bristol FLF Lodekka bodied by Eastern Coach Works and was one of over 300 operated by the former Bristol Omnibus Company. It was one of a small number fitted with an 8.9 litre Bristol BVW engine rather than the usual Gardner and this made the vehicle rare. As fleet number C7246, the bus was used in revenue earning service on what were then referred to as Bristol Joint Services but from 1978 became Bristol city services. The red paint exposed upon restoration indicates that it once operated Cheltenham District routes. Withdrawn when operating from Bristol's Muller Road garage in 1983, it then passed to Stroud's carol bus committee until 1993. The bus remained unused between 1993 and 1997, when it was bought by an enthusiast. It changed hands to the current owner in July 2000 and work began on its restoration. The bus passed its first MOT in June 2001 and has been rallied in the Nottingham area. Renovation, refurbishment and restoration continued on the vehicle and at the time of its appearance at Stroud was almost complete. It was then fully restored into its early life condition in full Bristol Omnibus Company green livery as it might have been when used on Bristol Joint Services.