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Having undergone a complete revamp to celebrate its 10th year of educational service, the Manx Telecomputer Bus was unveiled at a special open day on Wednesday 23 January, at the Department of Education’s headquarters in Hill Street, Douglas.

Resplendent in its smart new livery and fitted out with 23 of the latest Apple iMac computers and educational software, the bus was admired by the eager crowd of teachers, students, and members of the business community. To mark the beginning of a new era, the ribbon tied around the bus was cut by Chris Hall, Managing Director of the bus’s main sponsor Manx Telecom, and then everyone was invited on board to have a look.

Alex Townsend, ICT Advisory Teacher for the Department of Education, said: “We are delighted to be sending the Manx Telecomputer Bus back on the road with its great new look and state-of-the-art technology, which gives teachers around the Island a cutting edge learning aid. The last 10 years have seen the bus mainly used in primary schools, but we now have the equipment and software to appeal to all ages. We hope that in its new guise the bus will become a common sight outside secondary schools too, supporting cross-curricular ICT around the Island.”

Manx Telecom’s Marketing Director Andy Bridson added: “We are proud to continue to support the Computer Bus – and indeed to have been involved in such a ground-breaking educational initiative right from the start. As a company deeply committed to the local community and to investing in the sort of world-leading technology that is one of the Island’s key strengths, this exciting project is very close to our hearts.”

It was in September 1998 that the Department of Education launched the Manx Telecomputer Bus, with the help of sponsorship from Manx Telecom and Tours Isle of Man – now Protours. Since first hitting the road, it has made hundreds of school visits, involving thousands of children. Just a few of the highlights from its last 10 years of service are:

• April 1999: the Manx Telecomputer Bus is used by US database giant Oracle to secretly trial Think.com, the global community for learning

• June 1999: students from St Ninian’s and Ballakermeen high schools accompany the bus to the BBC Tomorrow’s World Live Exhibition at Earls Court in London.

• June 2003: the bus is runner-up in two prestigious awards – the Vodafone e-Well Being award and the New Statesman New Media award.

• October 2003: the bus is nominated for an Isle of Man Newspapers and British Airways CitiExpress Pride in Mann award.

• April 2007: a milestone is reached – 30 years on the road, as passenger vehicle and teaching aid alike.

• January 2008: John Thornley, pioneer of the Manx Telecomputer Bus, receives an MBE in the Queen’s New Year’s Honours list.

Going back still further, the bus actually started life more than 30 years ago. Its first two decades were spent with Isle of Man National Transport, right up until December 27 1997 when, as the last Leyland National in service in the Island, it took enthusiasts on one final round trip.


Relaunch January 23rd 2008

©2008 Isle of Man Department of Education All Rights Reserved