Popular Lancashire school bus from the 1990s has been immortalised forever in new oil painting
A popular school bus from the 1990s has been immortalised forever thanks to the artistic talent of a Lancashire painter.
The ‘Mr Hughes Bus’ will be known to thousands of youngsters that grew up in Chorley and across South Ribble after it was set up by former schoolteacher Michael Hughes.
Michael, or Mr Hughes as he will have been known to pupils, started his teaching career in 1960 at St Albans High School – now Albany Academy – before moving to St Michael’s CE High School in 1964, where he was Head of Science.
He retired early from the profession some 26 years later in 1990.
It was after his retirement that he decided to set up the bussing business, mainly taking children to his old school St Michael’s.
The 80-year-old said “everyone seems to remember the Mr Hughes Bus”, with Michael also using it to take those who got help from Galloway’s Society for the Blind Charity in Penwortham on holidays to Scotland.
And as well as St Michael’s it was also known to pupils from Runshaw College and Penwortham Priory Academy.
Now, the bus has been immortalised forever thanks to the skills of artist Mal Grosse.
The Longton-based oil painter, who hails from Lancaster, was given the job by friend Michael due to the fine work he has produced over the years.
Mal, a Royal Air Force veteran and former British Aerospace PR and Marketing Executive, said: “We have been long-standing friends going to the pub every Friday night.
“For some reason we got talking about the bus and he brought in a dinky toy that had been done of it which he wasn’t happy with, so I modified that.
“Michael then said ‘you know what I’d really like...’ and I knew what he was getting at!
“I specialist in aircraft so it’s definitely the first bus I’ve ever painted.”
Michael, who earned his teaching qualifications at Lancaster University before doing a diploma in education in Liverpool also took school trips to Penzance in Cornwall.
He said: “We used to take the children on their holidays to Penzance.
“We would hire a coach from Chorley but after a time of trying to get drivers to take us somewhere as far down south as there I thought ‘I can do that myself’ so I did a PCV [Passenger Carrying Vehicle] qualification and bought my own bus.”
Mr Hughes, who now lives near Penwortham in Hutton, added: “I think I am more remembered for the bus now than the teaching!
“I remember people saying I should be the Mayor of Penzance by now I have made that many trips down there.”
And the people of Chorley still remember Mr Hughes to this day.
Michael said: “I was at Chorley Town Hall for the Remembrance Sunday service last November and I was sitting there, and Lindsay Hoyle was there and the Mayor of Chorley [Coun Margaret Lees].
“At the interval she turned and said ‘Mr Hughes you used to teach me back at school!’.”