All aboard fundraising campaign for Hackney Playbus

Bugsie with the Homerton Speech and Language team

Bugsie with the Homerton Speech and Language team

It’s been providing fun for the borough’s children since 1972 – but the iconic Hackney Playbus has made its last journey.



The charity behind “Bugsie” the bus is now calling for people to get on board with their campaign to raise £25,000 for a new vehicle that has been serving generations of families on Hackney’s estates for 44 years.

Disaster struck on Friday, when the bus was making its way to Waltham Forest’s summer playscheme.

“I noticed there was an oil leak from the gear box, but to be honest Bugsie is an old bus and running repairs are a significant part of the job,” said charity volunteer Ian Hastings. “But this time was different. Approaching Woodford roundabout there was a terrible crunch and the entire gear box disintegrated and with a mighty clunk the main axle jammed solid.”

An alternative was hastily assembled and even made it through the Hackney Downs Free Festival at the weekend. But for the charity to be able to continue it needs to buy a new bus.

Some parents have already backed the scheme. Georgina Dyer said: “It’s the first thing Cyrus says when he wakes up in the morning – are we going to the Playbus? It’s a fantastic service for the kids and the parents. I would recommend it to anyone, I only wish I had found out about it earlier.”

Playbus director Claire Kelly said “Bugsie” had to be replaced next year anyway to comply with London’s Low Emission Zone rules for vehicles, but this had sped up the process of finding a replacement.

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She added: “Luckily we have just located the Playbus of our dreams, already converted into a fantastic resource – a real treasure trove for under fives and with proper disabled access. It is sitting in the yard at Bristol Playbus.

“We just need to raise £25,000 to pay for it. That’s £10 for every family who used our services last year.

“We are putting out a big appeal to local families and businesses.”

To donate to Hackney Playbus’s ‘Buy a Bus’ appeal, go to and search for Hackney Playbus.