A bus driver who spent 40 years behind the wheel and clocked up a million miles, has waved a fond farewell to his driving days.

Denis Hall, of Whitehouse Meadows, Eastwood, has just turned 65, and is swapping his bus driver’s licence for a free bus pass.

First Buses put on a big bash before Christmas and a special ceremony celebrating 40 years of service, but on Mr Hall’s last day at his depot in Hadleigh, there was a bouquet of flowers for his wife, Sue, 56, and a card signed by all the bus drivers.

Depot manager, Andy Spicer, praised Mr Hall for his attendance record, saying he took barely any days off during his 40 years service. Mr Hall joined what was then called Eastern National, now called First, in September 1968 and worked at the bus garage in London Road, Southend.

His first job was to drive the Number 400 to Kings Cross, in London, and back, every day, which took him about hour-and-a-half to two hours each way.

He said: “You got to know the passengers because you had regulars who you took down and brought them home most times.”

When Sainsbury’s was built in place of the old garage, Mr Hall relocated to a station on Fairfax Drive, Southend, and worked for several years operating local and London routes. Sometimes his duties even extended to manning the drivers’ canteen.

The garage later moved to its current Hadleigh depot. Mr Hall moved with it and spent the rest of his working days there, serving the public with his safe and reliable driving.

Mr Hall said: “My favourite memories of the old times were that the buses had a lot of character.

“They were more enjoyable to drive. They had double clutches which meant you had to push the clutch in then let it out then push it in again to change gear, and if you didn’t get it right you made a horrible noise.

“It certainly made driving more of a challenge, not like the new modern buses where they pretty much drive themselves.”

Mr Hall also said driving had changed because there are now fewer services, which start later and finish earlier.

He said: “In the old days we used to run them until half past midnight and they could start as early as 4.30am.”

He also said he’d miss the camaraderie with other drivers the most.

Proud son, Darren, 28, who is a manager in a recruitment company in Basildon, said his dad was looking forward to a well-earned retirement.

He said: “Dad plans to spend his time visiting the family and his three grandchildren, and not forgetting plenty of time for holidays, cleaning his car, gardening – and free bus journeys.”

Mr Hall also has a daughter, Nicky, 33, who lives in Bristol.