A vintage coach which had almost been restored to its 1960s glory has been destroyed by a fire which was ‘likely’ to have been started deliberately.
The chairman of Rushden Historical Transport Society said it was a “great shame” that the 1964 United Counties Bristol RE the group had almost finished restoring was destroyed.
Two fire crews were called to the blaze just before 1am on Monday, May 25, in the society’s compound in North Street.
Northamptonshire Fire Service told the society that the fire was started due to a “deliberate ignition”.
A spokesman for the fire service said: “Because of the remote location and the fact the vehicle was in a locked compound in North Street, it is likely that someone was responsible.”
Society chairman John Sugars said: “It’s a great shame.
“It was a local bus that was more than 50 years old and one of the first motorway coaches back when the M1 was in its early years. Now it’s just a charred wreck.
“Sometimes nearby residents have seen people climbing the walls into the premises.
“We don’t know if whoever did it this time started the fire on purpose or if perhaps they dropped a cigarette or something, but the old rubber seating and interiors were not flame retardant.”
The 50-seater cream-couloured coach, with the iconic United Counties green band, was bought by the society in 1984 and was regularly used by members before it fell into disrepair. After months of restoration, it was almost ready to be used again.
Mr Sugars said: “Over the years we’ve spent around £8,000 on the bus and it was looking really good. Although we do own two other coaches, this was the most efficient for taking members long distances to events around the country.”
Police also attended the incident.