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Journey's end as ancient bus returns to Telford

By Toby Neal | Telford | Features | Published: | Last Updated:

After a journey spanning nearly 70 years, which has taken in being a demonstrator, a busy working bus and a museum piece, a Shropshire-built bus has returned home to the county and the promise of a bright future.

Homecoming... Peter Gilbert looks on as the bus arrives at its new home near Telford.

The Sentinel bus which left the famous Sentinel Works in Shrewsbury new in November 1950 has been acquired by three enthusiasts who aim to restore it to running order for display at local events.

The single decker, GUJ 608, was brought by low loader to its new home near Telford, where during its service days it had been a common sight in the Donnington and Oakengates areas for many years.

One of the enthusiasts, Peter Gilbert of Llandrindod Wells, said: “This bus is very special to me as my family, friends, neighbours and school staff travelled on this bus.

“It brings back memories for me of my childhood in an area now greatly changed, a bygone era and a time warp link to growing up as a child and a teen in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s.”

“I remember catching GUJ to Wellington on a Saturday from Oakengates or to Market Drayton on a holiday Wednesday. The distinctive roar of the Sentinel-Ricardo four cylinder engine will live with me for ever. How lucky we are now to own her and hopefully relive some of those memories.”

With him in the project are Steve Hand of Ketley and Glyn Bowen of Muxton.

The bus starts its journey to Telford on a low loader.

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GUJ 608 is a Sentinel STC4/40 with a 40-seat Sentinel bus body on Welsh Metal Industry frames and with a Sentinel-Ricardo four cylinder diesel engine. It began life as a demonstration vehicle for Sentinel, as part of a largely unsuccessful attempt to try to entice operators to add Sentinel buses to their fleets.

It then passed through a couple of operators before being bought by Brown’s Coaches of Donnington Wood early in 1959. Brown’s already operated seven Sentinel buses so the new addition fitted in well, and was soon repainted into their cream and green livery.

It was in regular service in Donnington and Oakengates areas until 1971, and soon afterwards it was sold to a bus enthusiast for preservation and restored to its original dark blue livery, and was then exhibited at the Aston Manor Transport Museum in Birmingham where it stayed until the museum was forced to vacant the site.

GUJ 608 was then moved to indoor secure accommodation where it remained for eight years.

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During 2019 the owner decided that, because of other commitments, he reluctantly had to offer it for sale for continued preservation and negotiations were begun to return it to Telford in the care of local enthusiasts Peter, Steve, and Glyn.

Initial work will be to repaint it into the cream and green livery of Brown’s Coaches, and then attention will turn to returning it to running order for display at local events.

Progress can be viewed on the Facebook page “Friends of GUJ608 Sentinel Bus”

Toby Neal

By Toby Neal
Feature Writer

A journalist in Shropshire for 40 years, mainly writes features and columns, especially about aspects of Shropshire history. Lives in Telford and is based at the Ketley headquarters.

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