Optare Senior Engineer – sales and marketing, technical author and museum founder, John Seale retires after 53 years in the industry. John has had a varied engineering career but his passion for bus design has been very apparent throughout his career.
John started his career as an Apprentice Draughtsman with Metro Cammell Weymann in 1965, where he was a member of the Metrobus and later the Metrocab taxi design team.
In 1988 after 23 years with Metro Cammell Weymann, John moved to Doncaster, Yorkshire to pursue his ambition to design his own bus and coach bodywork at C.G.Whittaker (Europa Coaches) which was an established van convertor producing its own bodywork on Mercedes T2 range chassis.
After the demise of Europa Coaches, John became Engineering Design Manager at Autobus Classique, later acquired by Optare, responsible for a range of mini and midibus designs.
A change in career took him to Bessacarr Caravans as designer, but the draw of bus design was just too much and lead John onto design the Mercedes 817L based ‘Vision’ coach for SC Coachcraft that appeared in 1997. A novel safety feature of this vehicle was the ‘wing’ panel attached to the rear boot door that reduced road spray significantly.
In 2000 he moved to Marshall Bus in Cambridge firstly as Engineer (New Projects) latterly as Technical Sales Manager, leaving in 2002 to join Turkish bus and truck manufacturer BMC where he was responsible for the 1100FE Schoolbus and the Condor service bus, the latter was re-engineered to right hand drive and developed for the UK market.
In 2003 he joined Autocruise Motorhomes as Engineering and Quality Manager and left in 2007 when the business was acquired by the Swift Group. He then worked on the design of a semi-trailer for livestock conveyance for a York based company.
In 2008 he returned to Optare but left after the acquisition of the business by the Darwen Group and became Design Engineer for the Goole based ambulance and minibus manufacturer, Oughtred and Harrison from 2008-2011.
In 2011 he was invited back to Optare as Homologation Engineer, later Cost Reduction Engineer and for the last three years as Senior Engineer – Sales & Marketing.
John contributed to the preservation of the history of bus manufacturing for future generations, when in 1973 he and a group of two others established the organisation that today is the Transport Museum Wythall, just south of Birmingham. It became a registered charity in 1978 and John served as one of the original Trustees for over ten years before his move to Yorkshire. His drawing board that he used at Metro Cammell Weymann is now an exhibit at the museum.
He was the technical author of a two-volume work published in 1978-1979, ‘Midland Red a History of the Company and its Vehicles’. This was the first publication on the subject that drew from the company’s own historical sources and engineering drawings. John had been fascinated by Midland Red since he was a nine-year old as they designed and built their own buses and coaches which were much more advanced than the products being produced by the main stream manufacturers at the time.
When asked, as a child, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” John replied, I want to design buses!”
Robert Drewery, Commercial Director, Optare, said, “I have been honoured to work closely with John and draw on his wealth of industry experience over the last three years, he has been an invaluable member of the Optare Team. We all wish him well in his retirement which will no doubt still feature his passion for all things bus.”
John Seale, Senior Engineer – sales and marketing, Optare, commenting on his retirement said, “Working in a job that you have a real passion for is a privilege enjoyed by few. I am fortunate that I have been able to achieve my ambitions. However, people are an important part of this industry and it will be these who I will miss the most. I would not have been able to make this journey without them.”