Iconic tour bus reborn

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WNO 481 was relaunched at the Classic Motor Show at the NEC this year, restored and with a new life as an entertainment venue ahead. 1972 WINGS TOUR BUS LTD

Jeremy Blackmore reports on the rescue and revival of a famous Bristol double-decker once used by Paul McCartney’s band Wings and now destined for a new lease of life as a travelling performance space

The brightly painted psychedelic 1972 tour bus which launched Paul McCartney as a major solo artist in the wake of the Beatles’ split has been reborn as a travelling performance space inspired by the Beatles’ final concert on the roof of the Apple building in 1969. The 1953 Bristol KSW 5G ECW open-top double-decker first entered service in 1953 with the Eastern National Omnibus Company in Chelmsford, and later ran with Eastern Counties in Great Yarmouth, before finding rock and roll stardom during Paul McCartney’s first major tour with new band Wings.

Dubbed ‘Woodstock on Wheels’, WNO 481, the plucky bus that refused to die, has been lovingly and faithfully restored by new owner Tom Jennings and specialist teams led by David Hoare and Bradley Earl, after years decaying in a ravine in Tenerife. Tom has reimagined and re-engineered the top deck so it can transform into a mobile venue for live performances at festivals and charity fundraisers. The new McCartney Stage now makes possible the former Beatle’s original vision of the top deck as a venue for live shows. The bus was unveiled at the Classic Motor Show at the NEC in Birmingham this month with a host of special performances.

The refurbished WNO 481, which also boasts a Royal Princess, Mary Poppins and FA Cup winners as passengers in its history, is already attracting interest in bookings from music festivals. Even Glastonbury has shown interest and asked to see photographs of the completed stage.

It’s been a long and winding road and a labour of love for former pro-musician Tom who became the latest custodian in 2019 after he perused online memorabilia auction sites looking for a Garth Brooks guitar. Instead, he came away, unexpectedly, with a unique piece of rock and roll history.


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