Beaulieu National Motor Museum - Bespoke Play Bus

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The price, our quality and the start to finish support we provide throughout the entire process tipped the decision in Hand Made Places’ favour when one of the UK’s leading tourist attractions decided to search the market for a new and one-off bespoke piece of play equipment.

The National Motor Museum at Beaulieu wanted to replace an ageing wooden version of its famous working replica of a 1912 open-topped London tour bus which takes visitors on rides around the famous museum and its grounds in Hampshire.

It already had one in its Mini Motor Play Area, a car-themed section of the grounds where youngsters can enjoy themselves in safety on various pieces of equipment and where the play bus was the centrepiece, but this had been made many years ago and seen better days so the decision was taken to replace it.

The Museum’s Front of House team looked at various suppliers and what was available within their budget before choosing Hand Made Places for the reasons above.

Our brief was to take the life-sized working replica as the inspiration, build a child-sized one and retain the slide already used on the one we were to replace. We took this as literally as possible so the children now have a fully functioning cab and movable steering wheel to play with and we carefully engraved the side panels to mirror the markings and signs of the real one as closely as possible, even going so far as to carve a `registration plate’!

We took care to incorporate the slide and placed it so it runs from the top deck to the artificial turf covering the play areas so youngsters can enjoy themselves but without it distracting attention from the main structure.

And even though it was a unique piece, it took just eight weeks from the museum staff starting to talk to our teams to having the play bus fully up and running. Designing and engineering it, doing site visits, agreeing a price, cutting the materials, installing and getting it signed off only when the customer was 100 per cent satisfied was done quickly and efficiently within two months.

A spokesman from its Press Office told us: “Our team looked at other providers of playground equipment with their requirements before deciding that Hand Made Places was the best for price and quality. The process of designing, building and installing the new play bus took eight weeks and the team were very happy with every stage of the process. Communication and support from the company were very good throughout that entire time, as you would expect from a company of this type.

“Although similar in design to the new one, with a slide coming down from the top deck and rear-mounted steps, our old play bus was built many years ago in-house and the time had come to replace it, helping to keep our children’s play area in tip-top order.

“Since 1973 we have had our own full-size Veteran Bus here at Beaulieu, a replica of a 1912 London double-decker bus, which gives free rides to visitors. It is certainly an iconic feature of the attraction, so the scaled-down play bus echoes this recognisable machine.

“Although we receive visitors of all age groups at Beaulieu, a large proportion are families with young children so the play bus gets frequent use, particularly during the school holidays. There has been a positive response from visitors with feedback telling us that many are impressed with the way it matches our full-size Veteran Bus.”