UK’s best bus shelter gets 20th birthday puffin themed makeover


BRITAIN’S best bus shelter is celebrating its 20th birthday with a puffin-themed makeover.

While most UK commuters suffer drafty, vandalised and suspicious-smelling stops, the people of a remote Shetland island are treated to the lap of luxury.


The shelter has been kitted out with puffin curtains, framed puffin photographs, books on puffins, puffin tea towels and tablecloths and even a puffin calendar



The bus stop in the village of Baltasound on the island Unst does not have a set timetable and locals have to book a bus if they need a ride.


The puffin theme is to tie into this year’s UnstFest




Despite this it is kitted out with more soft furnishings than a one-bedroom flat and comes complete with reading material, hand embroidered cushions and even curtains.


The Queen’s Jubilee was the theme in 2012




It all started 20 years ago when schoolboy Bobby Macaulay put pressure on the local council to replace the shelter because the roof had come off.


The 2009 Pink theme was one of Jane’s favourite



When a new one was installed in 1995, items of furniture mysteriously appeared and since then the stop has become a “key tourist attraction” with thousands flocking to see it.


A picture from 20 years ago with local school children who used the stop



Each year it is re-decorated with previous themes including the former South African President Nelson Mandela, the Queen’s Jubilee and the World Cup.

Bobby’s mum, Jane, 58, a social care worker, redesigns the interior every year.


The bus shelter had all the mod cons of the day



For the 20th anniversary it has been kitted out with puffin curtains, framed puffin photographs, books on puffins, puffin tea towels and tablecloths and even a puffin calendar.


Blue was the theme in 2008



“My boy Bobby is nearly 27 now,” said Jane. “It was 20 years ago the shelter was a little bit unsafe. It was an old shelter and the roof was coming off.


A snack bar was featured in one of the early designs



“They would cycle their bikes there and catch the bus to school. Bobby wrote a letter to the Shetland Times and after that the council replaced it.

“It’s taken on a life of its own, people started leaving stuff in the shelter.


The Tall Ships inspired the 2011 shelter design



“Since then it’s been described as a ‘key tourist attraction’ which I find extremely amusing.”

She continued: “We live in a safe environment. Nothing goes missing – it’s the opposite – things are left there.


In 2007 the theme was yellow



“I also leave cakes and cards for anyone celebrating a birthday or an anniversary in the bus shelter, as long as someone tells me in advance.”

Anyone wanting to catch a bus at the stop has to call the operator P and T Coaches a day in advance to book.


A tourist group stop of sherry and shortbread at the now famous shelter



The service, dubbed ‘The Overland’ by locals, runs on the on the A968 and takes islanders on the 25 minute, 10 mile trip between Belmont and Haroldswick.

The fare from the shelter to Haroldswick is £1.10 and you will be greeted by driver Jimmy Laurenson has been driving the route for more than 10 years.


The World Cup theme of 2010



The Unst Bus Shelter has become so renowned it’s been twinned with a shelter in Nova Scotia, gets its own fan mail and has even played host to the Crown Jewels.