Shropshire couple import US school bus to turn it into new home after mortgage struggles

An iconic 12-year-old American yellow school bus is getting a new lease of life in Shropshire after being transported to this country to be turned into a home for a young couple.

Luther Griffiths and Abbie Lewis will be converting the iconic yellow bus into their new home
Luther Griffiths and Abbie Lewis will be converting the iconic yellow bus into their new home

Luther Griffiths, a 28-year-old plumber, and partner Abbie Lewis, a 26-year-old self-employed tattoo artist, were struggling – like many young people – to get a mortgage.

A semi-professional racer of mountain bikes in Britain and Europe, Luther was used to travelling around in vans and suggested buying a 40-foot-long big yellow bus.

The colour yellow was chosen for American school buses in 1939 as it was judged as the most easily seen and safest colour for vehicles carrying children.

Luther said: “We tried to get a mortgage but this proved difficult and eventually we came to a mutual agreement to buy a bus.

“I have previously had an interest in building van conversions and had always wanted to tackle a bigger vehicle and Abbie had seen people in America living in converted buses.

“It all came down to just how to move out of living with Abbie’s parents, how to afford it and, by doing so, not skint ourselves out.

The 70-seater vehicle, which was built in 2010, was taken off the road in New York last November having clocked 100,000 miles, and was shipped over to this country at an initial cost of £7,000.

But because of various problems, including the Covid pandemic, this ended up costing £10,000.

Luther Griffiths and Abbie Lewis inside the bus that will become their home

Luther said: “So far, the largest conversion I have undertaken was a conversion of a Mercedes Sprinter and in 2019 I also worked on a French narrowboat which was the closest thing size-wise to the bus.

“I am going to have to cut out the roof to raise it higher to make a bigger living space but eventually it will contain one double bed, sofa and chairs in a lounge which could also convert into a double, making it a four to six-berth home.

“I envisage designing it in a farmhouse style with underfloor heating, log burner, a full Belfast sink, liquid propane gas over and hobs, a bar shower and composting toilet.

“It will all be off-grid and solar-powered and I believe that the total cost will work out at about £40,000.

“We will be parked at the farm during the winter but we hope to try to go for two to three months to Europe and get somewhere to park for the spring and autumn with nice views but commutable to Shrewsbury.

“I hope to complete the conversion within a year.”

Abbie said: “I think that I just love the idea of being close to nature as it is really free-living.

“I will miss some things but we will be able to travel somewhere each day on a quarterly basis.

“It is really exciting and,having talked about van conversions, it was my idea to go bigger and buy the bus.”

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