The Ceridwen Centre is a unique holiday, training and retreat centre located on an organic farm in West Wales; a sustainable business rooted in the land and community aiming to reduce the impact on climate change by positive action. When we heard that the centre were using Thermafleece CosyWool obtained from one of our merchants - Celtic Sustainables - in the insulation of their Leyland Titan Double Decker Bus, we just knew that we had to find out more.
Below Eleanor Broom from Ceridwen explains the lengths they had to go to make the bus into a cosy Self-catering Holiday destination with a difference.
‘Our bus was manufactured in 1974 and sold to Southend Bus Corporation, beginning service in 1975. It had a long history, going from Southend to Cardiff and back again. It was used as a training vehicle for many years before being sold to a private collector and taken to France. In the late 1980's it found its way back to Cardiff and began its life as a kids’ party bus. When we bought it in 2013 it had been very much loved, and very much used! It was in need of a total over haul.
We began with taking out all the windows and stripping the many layers of paint back to the original aluminium shell to assess the damage. some of the wooden frame needed cutting out and rebuilding, many of the panels needed remaking and replacing and those that didn't, needed hammering out and filling. I think we worked on every panel on the bus in the end! The upper deck rear emergency window was removed and rebuilt by hand by our carpenter on site along with the drivers sliding door and mechanism. Both front wheel arches had to come off, rust cut out, new steel welded in place and be reshaped. Hours turned to days, weeks and months of sanding in preparation to paint. It was at this stage we met Jim Mckinnon, he was based in Southend and had restored the sister bus to ours. He provided no end of help and knowledge. He matched the original livery colours and was happy to provide the paint we needed. Respraying a double decker bus as an amateur is no walk in the park, especially through a bleak West Wales winter, only half under cover! On more days than we could count we came back in the morning only to find the taping and masking we had done in preparation had blown across the yard overnight. Perseverance, and a deadline kept us going, and although perhaps not totally professional, I think we achieved a pretty good finish in the end.
Once inside we removed the plastic panelled ceilings on both floors and insulated with thermofleece, before putting up new tongue and groove wooden ceilings. All external, and new.
Internal partition panels were insulated in Thermofleece to ensure both warmth and privacy. Thermafleece CosyWool has the benefit, not only of being eco-friendly, but it’s also much nicer to work with. Its easily handled, cut and installed.
Upstairs we divided the space into two double bedrooms with ensuite toilets and washing facilities. The back room being accessed via the original staircase and the front, up a newly installed loft ladder. where the previous owners had put a slide from top floor to bottom into a ball pool!
Once the layout was decided, new glass was cut where needed and new, original mould rubbers were ordered and we began putting the windows back in. I won't go into details, but it took three and a half days, a lot of swearing and some almost teary moments before we finally figured out how to get one of the forty something panels of glass back in! There were no "how to" videos for our particular rubbers on the internet, and those we spoke to who had restored the same model bus said we were mad! They had just taped and sprayed around the old ones. Once we got a system though, they went in easy enough.
Back inside, we'd picked up an original formica Hygena kitchen, sometime between acquiring the bus and starting the conversion that we knew would be perfect for the project. This was cut and chopped to fit downstairs over the rear wheels as one half of a large open plan kitchen diner. In the front half, behind the drivers cab we refashioned two simple sofa beds to provide seating for six people, which converts into a very large double bed with storage underneath. We bought fabric locally from Annie Washbrook and made sofa coverings, bed headboards and dividing curtains to separate the downstairs space.
Finally, we chose a beautiful quiet spot on the farm, halfway along the valley, constructed a large decked area jutting out from the hill, which overlooks the valley and parked the bus next to it. We were carrying tools away as the first guests arrived, but we made it! And it’s been booked all summer, so is providing a great addition to what we offer at the farm.
We’re keeping it open for visitors all year round thanks to the lovely cosy insulation too!’
Eleanor Broom. Ceridwen Centre
To find out more about the Ceridwen Centre, visit their website http://ceridwencentre.co.uk
Celtic Sustainables are suppliers of natural & Eco-friendly decorating, building and energy saving products based in Cardigan, Ceredigion, West Wales visit theire website at https://www.celticsustainables.co.uk/