A COUNTY Durham bus driver is preparing to clock off for the last time after serving the community for more than five decades.

Go North East driver, Harry Bunney will be saying goodbye to a job "he loves" after first taking to the wheel back in 1970 when he was just 21.

Read more: Behind the scenes at Go North East's depot in Consett in County Durham

The 73-year-old, who works out of the Consett depot, has become a familiar face over the years after initially working for Venture Transport, which later became Go North East.

From the archives: Go-Ahead submits plans to move bus depot from Stanley to Consett

Speaking to The Northern Echo, Harry said he was hanging on until after Christmas to help the team out before bowing out in the new year.

Explaining how he had seen a transformation in the industry over the years, he said: "It was a totally different job back then, when I started at Venture there was only 12 buses that were semi-automatic."

The Northern Echo: The former Stanley depot Picture: GOOGLEThe former Stanley depot Picture: GOOGLE

Today, Harry's depot has around 80 buses with some featuring electric power steering, USB sockets, LED lighting and talking next-stop announcements.

Read more: Why police were seen at Consett Bus Station in County Durham

He said: "You didn't drive buses for eight hours, you fought them - buses now are like driving cars, but with a lot more tech, which I don't do."

Harry, who worked at the company back when there was a depot in Stanley, had a brief stint away from buses, running his own coaches but in the end could not keep away.

He added: "I might be biased but I love Consett, it's the best depot in the world."

The Northern Echo: Picture: JIM SCOTTPicture: JIM SCOTT

Martijn Gilbert, Managing Director at Go North East, paid tribute to Harry's "enthusiasm, passion and long-standing" service.

He said: We're super proud of all of our colleagues but it's a particular delight that we have people like Harry, who started under one of the company's predecessors back in 1970 - Venture Transport, which was then taken over by the Northern General Transport Company, which today is Go North East.

"But Harry is not alone in terms of being a long-serving colleague, we have many colleagues with up to 50 years of service and that goes to show the important role the buses have to play in our communities, not just in terms of connectivity but also major employers and we're super proud of Harry.

"We are honoured to have someone with such good service, enthusiasm and passion in buses and keeping the local community going, and we wish Harry all the best in his retirement."

Join The Northern Echo later this week as Jim Scott will go behind the scenes at the Consett depot.


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