'Golden opportunity' for Ipswich museum to restore 1922 Tilling-Stevens bus

The chassis of a 1922 Tilling-Stevens bus is one half of the planned restoration

Ipswich Transport Museum recently acquired a chassis to match the body already in ownership - Credit: Ipswich Transport Museum

The recreation of a 1922 Tilling-Stevens bus is on next year's project list for Ipswich Transport Museum -- although a major fundraising campaign is likely to be needed. 

Ipswich Transport Museum acquired a chassis from 1923 to match the 1922 Tilling bus body already in the museum's possession which comes with many original fittings.

It is believed that the original vehicle, DX3535, would have been in operation as a bus around Ipswich until 1930 until it was rendered obsolete because of the open top deck and spiral staircase at the rear.

The chassis and the body were separated and sold on - and the body was used as a potting shed for 84 years. 

Owen Phillips, from the transport museum, said: "When the museum collected it from the farm we were surprised to find that most of the original fittings for the seats, lights and windows survived in situ. 

"One of the few surviving seat cushions had a very old label poking out through the stuffing, suggesting that the seat trim had been supplied or repaired by the Ipswich firm of Mcnamaras, based on St Helens St. 

"Two of the windows had been smashed in the past, and the glass replaced at some time with some lovely second hand pub windows, frosted and decorated naming the Seahorse Inn." 

Most Read

Meanwhile the chassis would have been popular with fairground operators, used as a generator to run the rides and then transport to the next site. 

Mr Phillips continued: "We have a golden opportunity to recreate/restore one of these very early first-generation buses, rapidly approaching 100 years old.  

"This is now of course almost beyond living memory, but there are probably very few people born and raised in the town who would not have had relations employed at the engineering works of Ransomes Sims and Jefferies." 

A group of unpaid volunteers are likely to take on the project in 2022, when the current transport museum projects are completed. 

"The biggest hurdle to overcome is fundraising. It could cost in excess of £150,000 to have everything overhauled and the bodywork restored. 

"In time this will require a major fundraising campaign or a successful lottery grant application. 

"I believe we do have the ability to do most of the work in-house though, which in turn saves a lot of the labour costs." 

Currently, a 1930s Bedford bus, a 1949 Daimler hearse, a Ferguson tractor and an electric coal lorry are occupying the workshop. 

"Once those are finished we anticipate efforts can be directed towards the 1922 Tilling bus."

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter