New company hopes to bring iconic London buses to Cleveland

The British Invasion landed on Cleveland’s shores on Sept. 15, 1964, as “Beatlemania” swept the nation. Nearly 60 years later, the British are back.

While they aren’t bringing The Beatles, the British Cleveland Company plans to deliver an authentic and iconic London experience with a modern twist.

This was originally published on Medium by Michael Collier.

“When I’m driving along Detroit Avenue, I always picture one of these buses cruising up and down, going past the bars and just looking so right,” says Daniel Purcell, co-owner of the British Cleveland Company, who is working to bring the London bus experience to his adoptive hometown.

London’s iconic AEC Routemaster bus.

Once the company is fully operational — which Purcell hopes will be as soon as September — vintage, red double-decker London buses will offer private and public group tours of Cleveland, as well as wedding, prom and party bus opportunities.

“This city has such a friendly, family vibe,” Purcell adds. “It’s just that hometown feel in a big city, and I know people would appreciate this experience.”

The idea came to Purcell five years ago while daydreaming and reminiscing on a film he watched growing up, 1963’s “Summer Holiday,” in which four friends spend the summer driving a bus from London across Europe.

The Routemaster dominated the streets of London for nearly 50 years.

He first envisioned a small weekend party bus operation, but after connecting with the U.S. Small Business Administration’s SCORE business mentoring program, Purcell realized he would need to develop a plan that would keep the buses operating beyond just Friday and Saturday nights.

“Things really picked up earlier this year after [co-owner Sarah Steel] came on board, and the business plan evolved to keep the buses running year-round, keep them always busy,” says Purcell.

The current plan would have four buses running regular tours and private hire excursions, but Purcell hopes to expand and provide unique opportunities for field trips, weddings and conventions, and potentially partner with downtown hotels and other stakeholders to create a regular trolley service.

British Cleveland Company co-owner Daniel Purcell test drives a Routemaster bus. (Photos courtesy of Purcell)

An enduring London icon, the AEC Routemaster served as the mainstay of the city’s public transport system for nearly 50 years, and its unique design and old-world charm continue to captivate. Of the 2,876 Routemasters built between 1954 and 1968, approximately 1,280 are still in existence today, and Clevelanders may soon have the opportunity to see and experience this iconic piece of history in their own backyards.

Greater Cleveland Partnership’s All In vision for a Great Region on a Great Lake has five key priorities: Dynamic Business, Abundant Talent, Inclusive Opportunity, Appealing Community and Business Confidence. All of our work ties back to these values. This story relates to Dynamic Business and Appealing Community.