PLAY BUS: 1989 - 2001

Playbus MkI (1989-1990) Playbus MkII (1990-2001)

In 1989 the government's Urban Aid Programme approved a grant to purchase and convert a double-decker bus to promote and develop children's play in communities that had inadequate provision and to offer support and assistance to various voluntary sector initiatives throughout the borough.

The Wirral Playbus Project was launched and a summer pilot scheme was put into operation servicing temporary holiday playschemes and introducing the project to parents and children in areas where the fully converted bus might eventually operate.

After an evaluation of the pilot scheme and further consultation with National Playbus Association's technical advisor, it was deemed that the bus was unsuitable in design, age and structure for it to be cost effective over a long term period, therefore a replacement would be necessary.  At this stage the engineering department came to the rescue offering to exchange our bus for an ex-housing maintenance bus which was more suitable for our purposes.

The following year, design and conversion plans were drafted and the contract for the re-fit was awarded to Nash & Morgan of Gloucestershire, and so, on 31st May, 1990, Playbus MkII was officially launched at Birkenhead Park by the Mayor of Wirral, Councillor Jim Edwards.

Steve Chan (then Wirral Borough Council Department of Leisure Services Playbus Development worker) said; 'This mobile facility will be available to all children aged between 5 and 14, and we hope to provide a direct service to residents' doorsteps, whether they live in villages, outlying estates, tower blocks or inner city areas.'

The Playbus visited several different sites on the Wirral, its aim being to stimulate interest and assess the support from the local community.  It supplied both long and short term play provision depending on the needs of the area in question.  Prior to this, the project had selected several sites on the Wirral based on; space, access, proximity to housing, number of children in the area, their dominant age range and known attitudes of local residents towards establishing a more permanent play provision.

It was hoped that the Playbus' visits would act as a catalyst to help local people establish permanent play provision in these areas it visited; Seacombe, Pensby, New Brighton, Overchurch, Bromborough and Eastham.

The Playbus was retired in early 2001 and was sold several months later to the Merseyside Transport Trust, a preservation group who will restore the bus to its original state.

For more information about 'Bristol VRT 2122' visit the Merseyside Transport Trust's website; -

http://www.mttrust.co.uk/2122.html