THE STORY SO FAR - BEDFORD OB: HGE 219


This iconic Bedford OB 1950 coach has completed thousands of journeys since it was made, more than 65 years ago. Having provided a lifeline to people on Shetland it is only right it be returned to where it is most fondly remembered. It’s fascinating history is detailed below.

The Scottish Co-operative Wholesale Society in Glasgow first registered the 1950 Bedford OB on 31st July 1950. However, because an anticipated transport contract eventually failed to materialise, it was never actually operated under their ownership.

Later in 1950 the coach was sold to W Thompson of Sandwick, Shetland Islands, then again in 1954 to Johnson of Scalloway, Shetland. During this time the coach was instrumental to the way of life for people on the Islands as a way to get to the shops, to school and access vital facilities that we take for granted today.

Operator James Watt of Reawick, Shetland, ran the coach in 1968 and recalls the resilience of the coach on the difficult terrain on the Islands. He said: "The roads in Shetland weren't as good then as they are now, but the bus was very good in bad weather.”

In 1979 the coach made its way south as it was sold to Kestral Coaches of Stourport on Severn. It was here that the Coach was first called ‘The Shetlander’. Just a year later it was sold again to Cresta Coaches of Wimbledon under the ownership of Mr Mike Soul.

Jeff Cook at Wincanton, who owned the coach in the early 2000s, did most of the recent renovation work. It was Mr Cook who eventually sold the coach to current owner Nick Taylor in August 2011. Nick completed the renovation work and added the sign writing. His family have a long history of coachworks as H E Taylor of Cringleford made many coaches between World War One and World War Two. You can read more about the family business and it’s history by visiting www.taylorsofcringleford.com

Specifications of the Coach:

•      Iconic Duple Vista Coachwork considered being the most attractive of all coaches ever made.

•      Bedford 6 cyl, overhead valve petrol engine, 28 h.p. 3,519 cc.

•      Hydraulic brakes with vacuum servo system.

•      Original interior with paisley seat coverings, 1930’s styled interior lights and long sunshine roof

•      Bedford OB was a 1930’s chassis design but delayed production of this style of coach because of War demands for military vehicles

•      4 speed ‘crash’ gearbox and lack of power steering makes this challenging vehicle to drive.

Current Owner, Nick Taylor on the coach:

“In 2013 John Watt, one of the owners of the coach whilst in the Shetland Islands, came down to Suffolk to see the vehicle. I was moved by the emotion John showed at seeing his coach once more. It was clear that many on the Islands remember the coach; it took them to school, to dances, weddings and funerals.  She did a daily run across the island often collecting passengers from the Ferries and delivering them to their homes. Shops and Pubs would use the coach to deliver urgently required supplies from Lerwick. 

“It became evident that this wonderful vehicle was an important part of Shetland life. Stories continue to be recalled. For example - The coach has no heater so John Watt would provide a blanket for each of the passengers during cold winter days. John even recalls who was responsible for a cigarette burn on one of the seats!”

As the coach makes it’s journey home to Shetland where is became an integral part of life between 1950 and 1979, it is hard to imagine a better loved or remembered coach exists anywhere in the UK.