Posts Tagged ‘Bus’

A bus at Swindon

September 20, 2015

This is another photo where I am no longer certain of the date but I believe it is 1970.

I know I was in Swindon that year.

Swindon, of course, is a renowned railway centre. So what have I got? A photo of an old bus.


I don’t have much knowledge about buses but somebody out there will tell me more, I daresay.

The bus is clearly in use for driver training for it carries an L plate. This is what I think it is.

I reckon it was built by Bristol Omnibus Company and has an Eastern Coachworks body. By the way, it always seemed daft to me to make the chassis in Bristol and then transport it to Lowestoft to be bodied. My guess is that this bus dates from around 1949.

As is often the case, I would like somebody to tell me if I am right.


“A horses bus”

November 20, 2014

Our son’s reaction on seeing this bus sticks in the memory. He had obviously never seen anything like it. ‘Goodness! A horses bus!’ he exclaimed.


Once upon a time a bus like this might have been a common enough sight but times change. The internal combustion engine took over gradually and slowly. But the horse powered bus was a thing of the past by my childhood, let alone that of my son. This bus dates from just about 1900 and was used in London. The last horse bus was phased out in London by 1912.

But the venue for this photo doesn’t look like London – and it isn’t. This was taken at an open day at the Wroughton (near Swindon) store of the Science Museum. The picture dates to the early 1980s and a particularly grand open day with all sorts going on.

The site at Wroughton is a World War II airfield with a goodly collection of hangars for storing large items.

For us, whatever the history, this bus is just ‘a horses bus’.

A Dinky Bus

August 23, 2014

Now here’s a dangerous blog for me to do. There are people out there who know much more about buses than I do and people who know much more about Dinky toys than I do. So, we combine the two and I know almost nothing!

But I have a battered old Dinky bus.


There she is in her attractive red and cream livery but with no markings to identify her.

I have to say my carpet looks like a rough ploughed field to the bus!

Here’s more of a front view.


And of course, the underneath.


This sheds no light on the bus this was modelled on.

I have no memory of where this bus came from. My brother or I probably acquired it at a jumble sale. I think (somebody might confirm please) that it is a model 29c made between 1938 and 54.

It’s a nice little reminder of childhood!

A bus in Brittany

June 9, 2014

In 2002 we holidayed in Brittany – a delightful area of France which is different from much of the country, not least in having an ancient language which lives on in many place names. It is akin to Cornwall in many ways.

At Plougrescant we came across a very English item – a double decker bus.


This looks to me (and I don’t claim to be an expert) like a Bristol Lodekka, probably with a body by Eastern Coach Works. And as another aside, I recall seeing chassis being driven from Bristol to Lowestoft with drivers, wrapped up against the cold, sitting out in the open. It seemed a strange business to me to drive them 250 miles for the body to be fitted, but that was now it was.

This bus was run by Crosville from new in 1954 until 1971. From there she went to Europe and had several different owners. We saw her during her time with Publibus. And what a fine sight she was, albeit a tad incongruous on the narrow Brittany roads.

Route 59

May 29, 2014

Many years ago my sister in law and family gave me a bit of a London Transport bus stop. It is an enamelled square that tells would be travellers that this was the stop for route 59.


Now I have to confess that I had no real idea about route 59 so when I thought about this item, I looked it up and Wikipedia told me that route 59 was introduced new in 1999.

‘That can’t be’, I thought. I’ve had this route indicator for much longer than that. But I always say that somebody will have done the research and it seemed to me that Ian Armstrong’s site at has everything I need. It’s an amazingly detailed site of London bus routes since 1950.

It seems the entire route was from Victoria Embankment through Blackfriars, Elephant and Castle, Brixton, Croydon and Purley to the Chipstead Valley. But between Victoria and Blackfriars and also from Purley to Chipstead were Sunday only services.

I’m going to guess that this bus stop marker came from the Victoria to Blackfriars stretch. The Sunday service was withdrawn in the mid 1980s.

This route was closed in 1994, making the number available for a new route in 1999.

A bus at Three Bridges

March 10, 2014

I’ve said before, I was never really a bus nerd but even so, some old vehicles caught my eye. I’d go so far as to say I liked the old London Transport RT double deckers. I preferred them to the more modern Routemasters. Ideally I liked them in the green livery of the country services rather than the red of the London buses. But when I saw a red RT out at Three Bridges (a part of Crawley), I had to snap a photo of it.


This isn’t any old RT bus. It is an RTW or widened version. It may have meant that buses of the size of Routemasters were coming to Crawley for this old bus was equipped with L plates and was being used for driver training.

The photo dates from 1969. The buses date from around 1949.


John o’ Groats Bus

January 28, 2014

As a happy nerd, I rather like the extreme edges of the land. John o’ Groats, however, causes just a tad of irritation. Urban or indeed rural myth has it that John o’ Groats is the most northerly point on the UK mainland. That’s just plain wrong. Dunnet Head, a few miles to the west, is a couple of miles further north and holds that distinction. John ‘o Groats is a pleasant enough little place where a little harbour was created by a Dutchman called Jan de Groote back in 1496. He ran a ferry to Orkney, some 6 miles away across the Pentland Firth.

However, John o’ Groats holds the imagination of most tourists. They feel it is a place they should visit- and indeed, I have, but only the once and that as long ago as 1970. And here’s a none too good photo of me, taken that year, to prove it.


Yes, the weather was awful!

More recently, in 2004, we were heading to Orkney, using the ferry from Scrabster, which is near Thurso, to Stromness. In Thurso I spotted a bus heading for John o’ Groats and snapped a picture.


From my 1970 memories, I’d have loved it to have been a Macbrayne’s bus, an old Bedford with a big rounded snout, holding the engine in front of the driving position.  We have seen one more recently, preserved on the wonderful island of South Uist (click here). Looking back, this is probably very much an equivalent vehicle in terms of antiquity. The registration plate letter of ‘B’ tells me that this bus dates from 1984/85 so was all but twenty years old when I saw it. I’m not sufficient of a bus nerd to be able to tell you anything about the bus except that the operator was clearly called Highland.

By the way, it is still possible to travel by passenger (not car) ferry from John o’ Groats to Orkney. I’m told a very good day tour can be had.


On the Buses

November 20, 2013

My Life in Tickets (13)

Well actually, the ticket here is not one of mine. In fact it was given to me less than a month ago. But it brings back memories of the 1950s.

Back in those days – and until much more recently (even now) in some area, buses had a crew of two people. The driver had the job of driving and a conductor was in charge of the passengers and the issuing of tickets. Conductors were often called clippies and this ticket explains why.


Now do you remember the conductor (or maybe a conductress, with a rack of tickets? When you proffered your fare, they selected the appropriate ticket and nibbled a hole in it with a pair of clippers. We are, of course, looking at both sides of the same ticket at once here.

I should say that the passenger had bought a ticket which would take him or her to stage 14. I think it cost 5d for the journey.

Now this was a central London bus on route 9 from Mortlake to Liverpool Street. This wasn’t my territory for I lived in Sussex at the very edge of the London Transport territory. The bus I recall was service 426 which ran from Horley to Crawley via a devious route which took it past my house door. It used a venerable old bus until the service was discontinued and I suspect that by then the tickets came from the handle winding machines that conductors had.

As a child I loved playing bus conductor. I’d line up the chairs we had into the kind of rows you got on a bus and persuade anyone to be passengers. My dad had made me a ticket rack and old tickets could always be found. I could happily call, ‘hold on tight please’, ring the imaginary bell and then sell tickets (no money exchanged of course) to my passengers.

I could ring the bell to tell the driver to stop at the next location and even help my passengers off the bus.

It sounds a simple game, but I loved it!

A 1960s photo album

April 23, 2013

I have commented before on this blog about the friendship my family had with German families – Germans who had been British prisoners of war during World War II.

One such family – totally German albeit with a French sounding surname were called Gerard. Herman, the father had been a prisoner but had, eventually, been allowed home. He married Geppa and they had quite a large family. They lived in Bremen.  Herman had a job with the United States Line – a shipping company operating transatlantic liners. I suspect he could get cheap travel. Certainly he and Geppa could get over to England and stay with us, presumably leaving the children with the grandmother who, I think, lived with the family.

This album was sent to my parents by Herman and Geppa Gerard after one holiday – I think in 1961 or 62. It is a glorious bit of 60s styling – and my parents would absolutely never have bought a thing like it. Here are the front and back covers.



No doubt this would be deemed collectable these days. I have no particular affection for Walt Disney cartoons, but I do see a great deal of charm in this little album.

Let’s look at just one photo, taken by Herman.


I daresay Herman wanted a photo of an iconic red London bus. Sadly his exposure time was a tad long and a moving bus is a bit blurred

Now I’m a nerd, of course, so when I looked at it I said, ‘wow! It’s an RTW!’

Before the Routemaster came in, the Regent Three (or RT) was the standard London bus. They were seven feet six inches wide. The RTW was a widened version of the bus and was eight feet wide. They paved the way for the similar sized Routemaster, proving that London could cope with the wider bus.

In the foreground, looking at the scene, we have my dad and Geppa. I think the visible car is a Fiat 500 and I can just make out a Ford Thames Trader lorry above my Dad’s head.

Now I’m not a London expert, but it looks to me as though the bus is hiding The Cenotaph on Whitehall. I also think the tower in the background is The Victoria Tower – part of the Palace of Westminster.

But hey! London and a slightly ‘rare’ bus have to play second fiddle to that album cover in this case.

Update – April 28th 2013

A friend sent a now picture from the same location. Thanks Pete.


The South Uist Bus

February 7, 2013

We have looked at South Uist people haymaking on this blog. South Uist is one of the Outer Hebrides some 80 kilometres from anywhere on the West Coast of mainland Scotland. That’s over twice as far as England is from France.

In the middle of the island there is a bus/coach depot. South Uist is, perhaps, a bit time warped, but children throughout the island need to get to school so coaches exist. The resident population numbers almost 2000 and they are spread out over 120 or so square miles. Most of the buses and coaches were relatively modern, but one, beautifully painted, represented a past age.


It is in the livery of MacBraynes – a company now subsumed into Calmac but from long ago inspiring this anonymous verse.

The earth belongs unto the Lord
And all that it contains,
Except the Scottish Islands –
For they are all MacBrayne’s.

The bus is a Bedford (probably almost as old as me) and it reminded me so utterly of the bus my then fiancée and I took from Wick to John o’ Groats back in 1970. A bus like this was then in front line service.

But back to South Uist. It’s a fantastic little island and amongst its attractions was a superb, modern museum (where they didn’t allow photography).There is a café associated with the museum where they serve a superb hot chocolate.


Yes, that’s marshmallow slowly melting into it. I’m sure that’s not traditional South Uist fare, but on a day which was just a bit cold and damp, by heck it was welcome.