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Coach builder hangs up his tools after 50 years

02 Oct 2018

Alan Scott busA coach builder and maintenance engineer from Penshaw, who has worked on hundreds of the region’s Stagecoach North East buses at the depot in Sunderland, is retiring after 50 years of service.

65-year-old Alan Scott began his career on 22 July 1968 at the age of 15, leaving school on a Friday and starting his new job as an apprentice coachbuilder the following Monday for Sunderland Corporation, which became Tyne and Wear Passenger Transport Executive in 1973 before Stagecoach North East took over the bus service across the city.

Coachwork is the body of a bus and a coachbuilder manufactures bodies for passenger-carrying vehicles. As a coachbuilder, Alan was based in the busy engineering workshop, where his role involved maintaining and repairing the company's vehicles to the strict standards set by both Stagecoach and the DVSA (Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency).

For over half a century, Alan carried out preventative maintenance and assessed and repaired accident damage on the north east region’s buses for the local bus operator.

Alan has seen the role of coach builder change over the years, with technology being the main development .He said: “I originally came for a fitter’s job and when I discovered all the positions were filled, I took the next job as a coach builder which I have now done for 50 years

“The job has changed tremendously over the years; it was much busier and harder in the early days as buses were in the engineering workshop for a fortnight, where they were stripped down and rebuilt before they went back out two weeks later.

“Now it is two or three days and the buses are out and back on the road, as they are much more high tech and sophisticated.”

After working half a century, Alan has seen lots of people come and go at the Wheatsheaf depot in Sunderland, and has enjoyed working alongside fellow long-serving colleague and friend Clive Fallon who was recognised for his 45 years service last year.

Alan continued: “It has been a really good team to work with and we get on very well.
I have enjoyed the work and the job, being hands on. I can’t just sit; I have to be doing something or fixing things such as plumbing, electrical or building repairs. The job has developed over time because of the skills I have gained over the years.

“When I had my first knee replacement surgery some years ago I was given a different job where I took on the building maintenance alongside some lighter work on coach building. Following my second knee operation, I was also able to expand my role to take on the work of the trimmer, as he was leaving, so I also did that job alongside my own. I was so glad to be back at work after surgery, as 14 weeks off at a time is quite boring!”

Alan has mixed feelings about retiring, as he has served his time but will miss the lads, the job and the banter, but has no plans to completely hang up his tools!

He added: “After my last day I’m away for a month to Spain with friends to relax and unwind. After that, I have a friend who used to supply vintage vehicles for Heartbeat and I have helped him to restore vehicles for the last 30 years, so I hope to do some more restoration to keep my hand in. I also have some old Ford Escorts of my own to restore and as I’m married with children and grandchildren, I will be spending more time with my family too. My wife has got a long list of jobs so I won’t be bored!”

Gary Chisholm, Engineering Director, Stagecoach North East, said: “Alan has been a valued member of the team for many years. People like Alan are always difficult to replace and he will be missed by me and the depot engineering management, as well as his colleagues. We wish him the very best for a long and happy retirement.”