Jimmy rings the bell on a life on the buses in Preston

Jimmy says farewell after a life on the buses.
Jimmy says farewell after a life on the buses.

Life on the buses proved a dream come true for clippy turned driver Jimmy Ashworth.

But after 41 years with Preston Bus, the 68-year-old has decided to ring the bell on a career in the slow lane.

Jimmy says he is parking the bus because he wants to enjoy a well-earned retirement.

“I’m going to miss it an awful lot,” he said after finishing his final shift at the wheel of his double decker.

“But I’m 68 and, although I don’t really want to, it’s probably time I gave up.

“I’ve enjoyed every minute of my 41 years on the buses. If I had my time all over again I’d do exactly the same thing. It’s been brilliant.”

Jimmy, who lives in Ribbleton, admits he always wanted to be a bus driver from being a child.

“Some kids dream of being astronauts, or firemen, or racing drivers. I just wanted to drive a bus,” he said.

“I was 27 when I spotted an advert in the LEP for conductors and drivers. I thought ‘here’s my chance’ and I got in.

"After a couple of months as a conductor they told me I was on driver training and I’ve been at the wheel ever since.

“For me it’s the best job in the world. In fact I’m going to renew my PSV licence when it is due in November, just in case.”

During his four decades on the road Jimmy has had many memorable moments - he even drove a bus in the TV thriller Confessional with Anthony Quayle and Robert Lindsay.

He chauffeured town councillors to meet Princess Diana at the official opening of the West View Leisure Centre. “I was within arm’s length of her,” he recalled.

Last week he went to Penwortham Girls High School to say “thank you” to 75 pupils he regularly drove for six years. “In all that time they were a real credit to the school,” he said.

Fellow drivers nicknamed Jimmy ‘Colonel Sanders’ after a school trip which ended in an impromptu feast.

Driving a party of 65 kids and three teachers back from a holiday in the Welsh mountains his bus developed a fault and chugged to a halt.

“They were all hungry and had spent up on their holiday,” recalled Jimmy. “So I got my cheque book out, went into a nearby KFC and bought £85 worth of chicken and chips to feed them.

“Trouble is I got in bother with the company because I hadn’t asked for clearance before I did it. The rest of the staff called me Colonel Sanders for months after that."