A BRIEF HISTORY
The first bus “Bertha” was purchased from a bequest made by Dorothy Melhuish to Bath Centre for Voluntary Service in 1985 and was initially converted for use as a mobile clinic. Other uses soon followed, including welfare rights advice, coffee bar for young people and a mobile exhibition facility.
PaintingThe project gained funding from the Manpower Services Commission Community Programme 1986-89 and was then supported by the local authorities and the health authority. In April 1991 Bath Community Bus became independent of Bath CVS and formed its own management committee. It also gained charitable status.
“Doris” was purchased in 1994 after the original “Bath Bus”, Bertha, became no longer viable. Doris had been part converted by the “Challenge Anneka” television programme and was donated to a project in Nottingham. Unfortunately the group was not able to make full use of the vehicle due to lack of funding and it fell into disrepair.
Bath Community Bus bought and repaired Doris, using grants from Bath City Council, Wansdyke District Council, BBC Children In Need and other small grants and donations from a variety of sources. The workers drew up the design specifications for completing the conversion.
SandpitIn 1999, the name of the project was changed to The Community Bus, serving Bath & North East Somerset to reflect the area that the Bus now served, the new unitary authority.
In 2003, a new base was found that centralised the service. The Radstock depot provided secure parking, office, meeting and storage facilities. The Bus project began to work more closely with Sure Start and then Children’s Centre Services, becoming a commissioned service delivering family sessions.
Also in 2003, a new bus was acquired to replace the increasingly unreliable Doris, funded primarily by The Community Fund (National Lottery). In April 2004 the first session was held on “Lottie” and to date she is to be seen played on by families throughout Bath & North East Somerset.
In 2014, the project changed its legal status, dissolving the old unincorporated charity and transferring all assets and activities to a new Charitable Incorporated Organisation (CIO). This had the effect of conferring limited liability to the Trustees and at the same time the project decided to adopt a new working name of ‘Big Blue Bus’.