Double glazed double decker

Having the right windows can transform a house into a home – but for one busy career woman it was the addition of Liniar windows that put the finishing touches to her ambitious conversion project, transforming a double decker bus into a luxury mobile residence. Liniar discusses a project that Channel Four covered on ‘Amazing Spaces’.

Ellie Banner-Ball dreamed of escaping the rat race and living a life of freedom on the road, which she achieved by moving to Devon and becoming a mindfulness teacher in October 2016.

Inspired by an Instagram post which suggested buying an old bus, removing the seats, and converting it into a mobile home, Ellie bought herself a 1970s double decker called Betty.

“I told a university friend about my plans and she contacted Amazing Spaces,” Ellie said. “I’d never seen or heard of the show, but they were interested to find out more and sent someone along to interview me.

“They were excited to feature the project, spending the next 12 months filming our progress and George Clarke, the presenter, paid me a couple of visits.”

However, things didn’t immediately go to plan for Ellie. The double decker bus, a Bristol VR model, was mechanically sound, but other areas needed some serious attention.

“The first six months of the project was spent completely restoring the bodywork and the interior was much worse that we first thought,” Ellie said.

“We hadn’t realised that Betty had suffered some vandalism. She’d been set on fire at some point and bits of the floor were missing.”

But six months later the restoration was practically complete and the next stage commenced: making Betty beautiful. One of the first steps was to replace five unrepairable windows.

“The windows on the bus were single pane with very old handles that made them difficult to open,” Ellie said. “So, I thought it would be better to replace the faulty ones with modern, double glazed windows.”

Totnes-based installers Southfield Windows provided and fitted these, which, despite more than 30 years of experience, proved to be a first for them.

“We thought it was a bit random,” Roland Bell, Southfield’s operations manager, said. “It’s definitely the first time we’ve been asked to install windows on a bus.

“It threw up a couple of challenges. Firstly, we had to use an angle grinder to square off the round corners that the original windows were fitted into.

“Drilling and fixing into the thin steel of the aperture also proved difficult, but we used some add-ons to provide additional support.”

Ellie was so delighted with the new windows that she wanted the rest replacing, but she didn’t have the budget.

Ben Paul, general manager of Liniar fabricator Omega Trade Frames, based in Kingsteignton, offered to supply them free of charge as it was such an unusual project, and Roland said Southfield would survey and install them without charging.

“I really can’t thank them enough,” Ellie said. “Without their generosity it wouldn’t have been possible to have achieved the high standard of finish that I have.”

“We were delighted to be able to help Ellie,” Ben said. “Especially as the windows would be seen in the programme. We’re very proud of the products we manufacture and it’s great to see the difference they’ve made to the bus.”

“The windows were A-rated white flush sash casements, using the Maco Espag gearing locking system and Planitherm Total glazing with argon gas.

Ellie then used a special PVCU paint on the exterior of the frames to match the blue bodywork of the bus.

Ellie will soon move into the bus, which consists of two bedrooms and a bathroom.

“You don’t realise how large it actually is inside one of these vehicles until all the seats have been removed,” Ellie said. “It’s about the size of a studio flat.

“I’m very pleased with how it’s all turned out, but the windows really are the best element of the whole bus for me. Having them has turned Betty into a real home, making it warm and cosy and they look amazing.

“When George returned to see the finished article, he described it as a ‘palace’ and ‘one of the most beautiful conversions’ he’d seen on the show, so I’m extremely proud.”

After a tour of Cornwall, Ellie is considering plans to hire Betty out to weddings and other events as a luxury glamping option “and let other people enjoy her”, she said.