Rastamouse London bus library launched to get children reading

St Mary Magdalene Primary School has a unique library

St Mary Magdalene Primary School has a unique library - Credit: St Mary Magdalene Primary School

A London bus has been turned into a new Rastamouse-themed library for a Westminster school.

The library at St Mary Magdalene CofE Primary School was previously in a corridor but after five years' fundraising, pupils and nursery children have been treated to a new cartoon-themed library on wheels.

The £50,000 project will help encourage reading for more than 236 children at the school in Rowington Close.

School business manager Sandra Simpson said: “Our old library was a corridor. It was a link from the main hall to the stage one classroom.

“It has been fun. It has been a labour of love but it has been really stressful as well.

“We didn’t realise how much damage there was. When we had [the bus] refurbished the floor was cracking.”

Michael De Souza, creator of Rastamouse, officially opens the Mary Mags Library Bus

Michael De Souza, creator of Rastamouse, officially opens the Mary Mags Library Bus - Credit: St Mary Magdalene Primary School

The idea of converting a London bus into a library was first mentioned in the school’s staff room nine years ago by teaching assistant Lauren McElwee. But the project has had a number of setbacks since then.

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The school, which takes children aged two to 11, bought a double-decker Bristol VR bus for just under £10,000 – but it arrived in a poor condition.

The top floor of the bus was so damaged it had to be reduced in height by three inches, and the bus’s paint had begun to flake.

But thanks to an extensive fundraising effort – including a £10,000 grant from Westminster City Council and a further £10,000 from the Derwent London Community Fund – the school was able to fund the extensive repair works.

The bus has been kitted out with bookshelves, air conditioning and heaters, and has been given a cartoon makeover.
Now the school – which is looking after 23 Afghan refugees – is asking for book donations to provide children with books to read.

Headteacher Tonnie Read said: “It has been five very long years, but we are finally, with the help of so many wonderful people, able to make our library bus dream a reality.

“We are looking forward to inviting local families to enjoy the library – a real community project.

“What a great way to continue to develop and grow the children’s passion and enjoyment for reading”.

The St Mary Magdalene Primary School bus needed months of work before it could be used

The bus needed months of work before it could be used - Credit: St Mary Magdalene Primary School

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