Luke, a London Routemaster bus retrofitted by Bentley for St Luke's hospice – Click above for high-res image gallery
We haven't met anyone who works in the Bentley factory. (At least, this writer hasn't.) But we like them already. Because while workers at other assembly plants go on strike or to Eminem concerts when they've got no more work, the crew from Crewe puts their energy and considerable talents into charitable endeavors. A couple of weeks ago we brought you a collection of artwork created by Bentley craftsmen, scheduled to be auctioned off to benefit cancer research. Now they've completed work on a bus for a hospice.
The decommissioned London Routemaster double-decker city bus affectionately named Luke was acquired by St Luke's hospice – a care facility for the terminally ill in Winsford, Cheshire – earlier this year. The goal was to use it as a sort of "community charity bus" to be used for fundraising, public awareness and as a "traveling shop" for college campuses. We don't know exactly what that entails, but the results, billed as the world's most luxurious charity bus, are impressive.
Very different in nature from rival Aston Martin's bus project, 59 Bentley workers from the woodshop, tool-room and maintenance departments volunteered some 2,000 man-hours to transform Luke from a mode of public transportation into what looks like an impeccably well-crafted vehicle for charitable work. See for yourself in the gallery below, and follow the jump for the full press release.
Bentley unveils world's most luxurious charity bus
Crewe: A former London Routemaster bus, which has been luxuriously restored by Bentley Motors, has today been handed over to the hospice St Luke's.
St Luke's, who are based in Winsford, Cheshire, secured the double-decker bus earlier this year and appealed to the luxury car manufacturer Bentley for help in its restoration. Bentley Motors has supported the hospice for the past three years, most recently in April when it helped renovate one of the hospice's charity shops and rejuvenated the hospice garden during a production shutdown at its Crewe factory.
This latest project has taken 2000 hours to complete with 59 Bentley workers involved The team has sought to retain many of the original features of the bus but adapt it to the needs of St Luke's in a typical Bentley way.
This has meant using the leather for which Bentley cars are synonymous throughout, all hand stitched with the St Luke's and Bentley logos. Other skilled craftsmen from Bentley's woodshop, toolroom and maintenance departments developed bespoke work surfaces, rails, kitchen unit and shelves to help St Luke's staff in their public awareness and fundraising activities.
The craftsmen are particularly proud of the "used ticket" bin, a feature at the exit of all Routemaster buses which has now been converted into a donation tin.
The Bentley production manager in charge of the project, Gary Lazenby, said:"This has been a real labour of love for all those involved. Bentley staff are incredibly proud of the cars we produce but applying those skills to a bus was a totally new experience for all. We are very grateful to the many local suppliers who provided materials free of charge to help make this iconic vehicle fit for a new lease of life."
The bus, named Luke, will be used as a travelling shop for colleges and universities as well as an education and awareness base to visit schools and other events.
There will also be an on-board charity shop to help the hospice raise funds while on the road.
St Luke's corporate fundraiser Karen Burns said: "Bentley's support has been invaluable to us over the past three years and we are astounded by our new community bus.
"This is a world-first, a community charity bus finished to Bentley standard, with plush leather interiors and Bentley wings on show to promote our relationship with the organisation.
"As a charity, we could only dream about Luke undergoing such a transformation. What we have is not only unique but is also a practical tool for us to share the St Luke's story."
Doug Dickson, board member for manufacturing at Bentley Motors said: "Many of our associates have accrued time as the global downturn forced us to reduce production and shutdown for a number of weeks earlier this year
"We offered the team the opportunity to use some of their downtime to help the hospice and were overwhelmed with the response. Rather than stay at home, so many skilled Bentley team members volunteered to help St Luke's. The result is a vehicle which combines the best of British luxury craftsmanship and manufacturing skill within an historic vehicle which is a symbol of British transport. We hope it helps make a difference here, in our local community."
The bus was officially unveiled at Bentley Motors, Pyms Lane, Crewe at 11am on Thursday, November 26.