April 25, 2012
A CLIFTON businessman working in Ethiopia was surprised to spot one of Bristol's favourite double-decker buses being used as a student cafe.
Phil Dunnington, 65, who lives in Royal Park, spotted the old red and white Bristol-built Lodekka bus outside Addis Ababa University in the country's capital city.
The bus has been turned from a vehicle for passengers to a one-stop shop for students, serving lunchtime meals and snacks.
Balloon pilot Mr Dunnington and his wife Allie, also a pilot, are currently in Ethiopia to set up a new tourist balloon flight operation in conjunction with a Dutch Government aid programme.
The balloon his company is using was also built by a Bristol company – Cameron Balloons in Bedminster.
He said: "It's funny to see two forms of transport both Bristol-built and destined for Ethiopia.
"I spotted this bus giving service as a student cafe at the University of Addis Ababa and realised it was a venerable Bristol-built Lodekka bus.
"It's good to see that Bristol products have a worthwhile afterlife."
Mrs Dunnington, 44, said: "We saw it at the university and were both really surprised.
"We have asked around but no one seems to know how it got there.
"It seems like a good way to recycle though."
Other Lodekka buses put to good use include one in Cumbria being hired out for guest transportation at weddings, and a green and white model being used as a vintage boutique and dress shop in Oregon, USA.
The Bristol Lodekka was first manufactured in 1949 as an attempt to produce a low-height double-decker bus without the usual four-abreast seating with a side gangway arrangement that was common at the time.
Bristol Commercial Vehicles manufactured more than 5,200 Lodekkas from 1949 to 1968.
The bus was hailed as a great example of British innovation, engineering and design.
After being constructed in chassis form, the Lodekkas were then driven to Lowestoft in East Anglia for the bodywork to be fitted by Eastern Coachworks.
The revolutionary vehicles were soon in use by bus companies right across the UK including Bristol Omnibus.
They transported many thousands of people – not just in this country but across the world – and employed many others in its manufacture.
After their retirement from public service many Lodekkas were converted into open-top vehicles for seaside or city tour work.
The 1970s ITV comedy On The Buses staring Reg Varney and Bob Grant used several Lodekkas throughout the series.
A Bristol Lodekka is currently on display at the M shed.
Source: This is bristol
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