The Retired Public Transport Vehicles Still Serving us Today

By Gary Cutlack on at

What happens to old buses and trains when they die? Most are recycled into tuna tins and foil, probably, but a few, like the old railway carriages you see in odd places about the country, survive as relics of a bygone era. Recycling our history is not only about middle class people turning phone boxes into libraries; there are some cracking converted old utilities out there.

Like this bus. A pre-Routemaster double decker, this particular model is a Bristol Lodekka, one that served Scotland in the 1950s and 60s, before retiring, Beckham-style, to the US for an easy life of relaxing and adoration. It's currently the pool house of artist Miranda Lake.

Or this, a famous London local landmark, an old Routemaster wherein some estate agents sit and talk about commissions and wonder when it's all about to come crashing down again.

Or this fantastic story from the Daily Mail which isn't about celebrity sideboobs -- it's about Carriage 353 which spent decades being used as a garden shed before being restored to rail worthiness by those tireless enthusiasts who love fixing up the old stuff. Peter Strange also has a nice old one that was a house (!) for a while before becoming a shed and eventually getting the restoration treatment too.

Glenfinnan Station in the Scottish highlands has an old carriage that's now a cafe, conveniently placed on the line that takes the (as seen in) Harry Potter heritage steam train from Fort William to Mallaig.

Or this, the Village Underground in London, where four recycled Jubilee line carriages now make up a space for artists to sit around in and imagine they're going somewhere, in a really quite appropriate metaphor for futility of life as an artist. Shame they had to let them paint all over the things.

Or these shoes, branded as Above+Below London and made, in part, from textiles salvaged from scrapheap-bound buses and train carriages. It's like wearing little bits of seat, and hopefully more comfortable than it sounds.

If you want a cheap bit of an old train where loads of bottoms have been, the astounding virtual aisles of the London Transport Museum shop have much more of the same. Central line fabric stock cushions. District line dog coats. S Stock scarves. They'll even skin you an entire sofa out of your choice of train seat fabric, if you want to know you'll always be able to get a seat at home.

Or take the DIY option and get an unloved bendy bus off Auto Trader and see what you can do with it.