Tributes to bus lover and Ipswich ‘gentleman’ Jim Long

Bus lover Jim Long's family and friends board a double decker bus to ride to his funeral.

Bus lover Jim Long's family and friends board a double decker bus to ride to his funeral. - Credit: Su Anderson

Friends and family of an Ipswich bus enthusiast were taken to his funeral yesterday in a heritage double-decker that he helped design.

Jim Long and Evie Clarke.

Jim Long and Evie Clarke. - Credit: Archant

Born-and-bred Ipswich man James Long, known to many as Jim, spent most of his life photographing and admiring buses in the town, and became a familiar face to all of the drivers and engineers at First Eastern Counties.

And when the company was deciding on what colours it should paint its heritage bus, the team turned to Mr Long and his extensive catalogue of old photographs to find an early model to base it on.

Chris Speed, general manager of First Eastern Counties, described Mr Long as “part of the furniture”.

He added: “For as long as we can remember Jim would come to the depot and take photos of buses and offer advice on routes and what we should be doing and he always got it right. It was a pleasure for us to receive his assistance.”

Mr Speed and four other staff members from First Eastern Counties attended his funeral at Seven Hills Crematorium in Nacton yesterday afternoon.

“We are attending as a company and we are attending because Jim was a nice bloke and a mate more than anything,” he added.

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Mr Long, who lived in Greenfinch Avenue with his partner of 33 years Evie Clarke, died suddenly last month at the age of 72.

Daughter Lynn Theedom, 45, of Nightingale Road, Ipswich, said her father was “one of life’s gentlemen”.

“Buses have always been his passion,” she added.

Mrs Theedom said it was Mr Long’s request for all of his loved ones to be taken to his funeral in the heritage bus.

Both of Mr Long’s parents were deaf and dumb so he would often communicate in sign language.

Mr Long passed his driving test in a milk float and he worked for Lucas Service in Hadleigh Road Industrial Estate for more than 40 years.

In line with Mr Long’s wishes, all of his archives will be donated to the Ipswich Transport Museum.

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