‘On the Buses’ — double-decker turns heads on way north

A very English double-decker bus took to the streets of Greymouth yesterday, turning heads in the town.

The Ludemann family from Queenstown were calling in on their way north.

Paul Ludemann said the 1966 Bristol FLF Lodekka came from Southampton and was one of the models that featured in the 1960s British television comedy On the Buses.

The Ludemanns’ one has been converted into a house bus, and has a kitchen and dining area on the bottom floor, and a spiral staircase leading to sleeping quarters on the upper deck.

Travelling is a little slow, though — it has a top speed of 73kmh.

Mr Ludemann shipped the bus to New Zealand in 1996, but its story started 30 years earlier when it still operated as a passenger bus in southern England.

Victoria and Paul Ludemann and their children Linzi and Chase with their double-decker bus,...
Victoria and Paul Ludemann and their children Linzi and Chase with their double-decker bus, opposite the Greymouth Railway Station this week. PHOTO: LAURA MILLS

It required a driver and conductor, but when the owners wanted to get rid of conductors, it proved tricky for the driver to take the fares, as he was in a separate cab at the front.

The bus was sold to a company, repainted purple for promotions, then sold again to Top Deck Travel (operating in opposition to Contiki), which converted it for 22 passengers to sleep in.

It toured Europe until 1996, when the company scrapped the double-deckers and Mr Ludemann, who worked for the company, saw his chance. He bought it and shipped it home to New Zealand.

Now the family often travels when the roads are quieter.

As for driving, "it takes a bit of getting used to".

Greymouth Star

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