A GROUP of bus enthusiasts at a museum at a Long Hanborough museum are showing off a brand new vehicle – and it is somewhat smaller than the rest of their collection.

Volunteers at Oxford Bus Museum have created a replica of a vintage bus from 1960, perfectly sized for very young passengers.

Visiting children will be able to hop aboard the new playbus, which has been named ‘Ernie’ in memory of a woodworking volunteer who contributed significantly to its construction.

Jonathan Radley, director at the museum, was thrilled to see Ernie go on display after years of work.

He said: “A small band of our volunteers have worked hard to make our new playbus, which is a marvellous addition to our display and a fitting tribute to Ernie who contributed so much to its construction.

“We’re sure that small children will really enjoy climbing inside, where they will be able to turn the steering wheel, operate vehicle lights and change the destination display.”

Ernie, who bears the registration plate ‘ERN 1E’, began life as the chassis of a redundant 1964 Bradshaw electric truck.

Volunteers from the museum built a new wooden bus body onto the chassis, replicating an AEC Reliance, one of the buses on display at the centre.

The name is in dedication to Ernie Clack, who undertook most of the woodwork construction prior to his death in 2015.

The playbus is not the only only new exhibit to go on display.

Also on show is a genuine minibus from 1987 – being shown for the first time in 15 years.

In the mid-1980s there was something of a transport revolution across Britain as many full-size buses were replaced by fleets of 16-seat minibuses, operating routes at high frequencies.

These early minibuses were based on Ford Transit can chassis, onto which proper coachwork was built.

The Oxford Bus Museum is now displaying one of the three minibuses that it has in the collection.

Affectionately known by bus crews during the era as ‘Snoopy’s’, the bus was operated by Thames Transit on routes around South Oxfordshire.

Mr Radley continued: “The bread-van derived minibuses of the 1980s were hugely important in getting people back onto the buses, as they offered a turn-up and ride service because there were so many of them.

“Today many of Oxfordshire’s busiest bus routes owe their popularity and high frequency to the little buses that operated more than 30 years ago.”

The Bus Museum will be open during February half-term week for minibus fun on February 11, 14, 15 and 18.

Free vintage bus rides will be available on Wednesday and Thursday departing at 11.30am and 2pm.

Last year the museum marked a very special anniversary – 50 years since the purchase of the AEC Regal 1949, the bus which started the collection and led to the creation of the museum. The centre was visited by Prince Richard, the Duke of Gloucester, in October to mark the occasion.