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Pictures from our Archives (Part 2)
Pictures From Our Archives (Part 2)
by David Hunter
In this, the second of the series of articles illustrated by pictures from our CD-Rom we look at the buses that were bought to replace the tram cars, originally introduced by Imperial Tramways Co. Ltd.
Bogie tramcars had served the travelling public of Teesside well in the years between their introduction in 1898, to their planned demise on the Norton to North Ormesby Toll Bar route on January 1st 1932.
By 1929, however, Stockton Corporation was mindful to abandon the system, and in 1930 Middlesbrough Corporation agreed. There were alternative suggestions, notably that United Automobile Services or the L.N.E.R. should run the service but in the end the two Corporations decided to operate the route themselves and the necessary licences were obtained.
Stockton Corporation Transport - 1928 to 1934
In preparation for the withdrawal of the tramcars, both Stockton and Middlesbrough Corporations bought new double deck buses for the service. This was a time of great development in the technical aspect of buses and Stockton, particularly; having little experience of double-deck buses tried several in their search for the best vehicle to order.
Six double deck Leyland TD1s had been obtained in 1928, these had Leyland built Lowbridge bodies with open staircases at the rear, they were numbered 34 to 39 in the Stockton Fleet.
Pictured when brand new (top right)UP 1544 was Stockton Corporation No. 38. It had a petrol engine and seated 27 in the lower saloon and 24 in the upper. The livery is vermillion with three white bands and a white roof
Demonstrators were loaned from A.E.C. and Leyland in 1929 and an order was placed with Leyland for a further ten vehicles similar to those purchased in 1928. These were numbered 40 -50
In 1930 a further batch of five TD1s were obtained, these had enclosed staircases but only had 24 seats on the upper deck.Shown in picture two is No 51 (UP3707) which was delivered in 1930
More trials were conducted in 1930 and vehicles were loaned from Maudsley, Sunbeam, Thornycroft and Daimler in an effort to evaluate all possible contenders for the standard Tram replacement bus.
A Daimler CG6, UP 4746 with a Park Royal highbridge, 50 seater, was delivered to the Corporation in November 1930
Three similar chassis were delivered in May 1931 but these was fitted with Brush 52 seater bodies. Pictured middle right, No.58 (UP 5326) was one of the three. It was re-engined in 1939 and lasted through the war years until 1949, finally being scrapped in Middlesbrough
Another of the experimental vehicles was No.61 (UP5459), a rather ungainly, A.E.C.Regent with a 50-seater body by Shorts.
Pictured below right, this vehicle was one of only three A.E.C. Regents ever operated by Stockton Corporation. It had an 8.1 litre oil engine, which was replaced by a more modern version in 1933. Interestingly, it was requisitioned, for use by the Army in July 1941. It didn?t return to Stockton.
Shown bottom right, a further experimental vehicle was this extremely rare Crossley Condor. It had a Crossley built 48-seat body and a 9-litre oil engine. It was registered in December 1931 as UP 5706 and carried Stockton Fleet No. 62. The livery was different in that it had white around the lower deck windows. It was disposed of in 1938 to a Glasgow showman.
Following these purchases by Stockton Corporation Transport Department, it was decided that Daimler should be the preferred chassis supplier. Eleven CH6 models, with Brush 52 seat bodywork were supplied in 1932.
None were received in 1933 but in 1934 a further order was placed with Daimler for 5 CP6, petrol engined models and a single COG5 oil engined bus, the former with Brush bodywork and the oiler with Weymanns fifty-four seat highbridge bodywork
Pictures from our Archives (Part 2)
Middlesbrough Corporation Transport 1928 - 1933
Middlesbrough's experience with double deck buses was even more limited than that of Stockton Corporation. The first vehicles were obtained in 1929, when three Guy six wheeled buses were delivered.
Shown top right is perhaps the best-known picture of one of these distinctive buses. DC8929 was allocated No 63 in the Middlesbrough fleet. Its bodywork was also built by Guy and it was withdrawn in 1936. It is seen here, working a ?D? service from the Exchange, before the station was rebuilt.
Shown second right, an extremely rare photograph of one of the Guys, taken from the offside rear. DC 8930 was No 64 in the Middlesbrough Fleet and was photographed in Parliament Road Depot.
In 1931 three batches of Daimler double deck buses were obtained with various styles of bodywork. All were CH6 models with petrol engines. They replaced the bogie double deck trams.
(Middle right) No.56 (XG 733) was of the first batch and had a 52-seat bodywork by Hoyal. It is depicted in the then current aluminium livery with blue band and white upper deck windows and roof.
Lower middle right: No. 50 (XG 1192) had a body by Charles Roe of Leeds. It had more ornate beading, which perhaps was the inspiration for the later triple cream band.
Bottom right lower No.51 (XG 1193) was from the final batch and had a Brush body; it was photographed at Loughborough when brand new.
No more double deck buses were obtained in 1932 but three ex demonstrator Daimlers were purchased on the expiry of their loan in early 1934, VC 7690. VC 8959 and VK 3418 (24,25,23) they all had Hoyal bodywork.
The Padane - Tony Walshaw
In January 1992 an unusual coach was found languishing on the premises of BCA Motor Auctions in Manchester. Although mechanically it was a standard Leyland Tiger, the body was by the Italian coachbuilder Padane, one of only ten such bodies ever built for the UK, and indeed the only one built on a Leyland chassis. Although it was not quite ten years old, its rare and unusual body gave it elements of obsolescence. As such it had few bidders and was acquired for only £5,000 by Delta Coaches of Stockton on Tees, who were then beginning to expand into continental holidays. One man’s poison is another man’s meat and it would prove to be a good investment for them.
The whole story behind this vehicle is an interesting one, reflecting changing politics in the coach industry. During the 1970’s, coaching was simple. Operators bought either Plaxton or Duple bodies. If they were a major operator such as an NBC subsidiary, municipal/PTE or large independent tour operator, then these would be fitted to heavyweight chassis such as Leyland, Bristol or AEC. Smaller independents would fit the same bodies to lighter-weight Bedfords or Fords, and depending on their specification, they could claim for part of the cost from the Government Bus Grant. Then the 1980 Transport Act came into being, “de-regulating” long distance coach services in the same way that local bus services would be six years later. This made for a “coaching boom” and suddenly operators were no longer satisfied with their good old Plaxtons and Duples and wanted something more exotic, and plenty of them. Thus the continental invasion of both chassis and bodies was born. But was it really that simple?
Originally, coach bodies were constructed by numerous builders and Plaxton and Duple were two of many in the market. The introduction of the Panorama body by Plaxton in 1959 established them as a major coachbuilder, and this successful design had regular updates until its final incarnation, the “Supreme”, ended production in 1982. In the early 1960’s Duple had quite a range of bodies, some quite bizarre in design and which typified a long-standing Duple trait of being trendy and stylish at the time of build, but dated and shabby not too long after. These were replaced in the mid-60’s by the interchangeable Viceroy and Commander ranges which imitated the large window style of the Panorama and gave Duple more consistency for its products. At this stage Plaxton and Duple were established as the major UK coachbuilders, and such as Harrington and Weymann dropped out of the market. This situation continued throughout the 1970’s, with Plaxton further developing the Panorama into the Panorama Elite and then the Supreme, and Duple replacing the Viceroy/Commander with the functional Dominant range. During this period few other UK builders were normally bodying coaches, the only others really being ECW mainly on Bristol chassis for the THC/NBC and Alexander for the Scottish Bus Group. During the mid-1970’s ECW dropped out but Willowbrook emerged mainly to take on an overflow of new vehicles due to the Bus Grant and generally took a leaf from Duple’s book by having distinct styling but an indifferent build quality. This would continue until the foreigners started invading in 1980. But was this really the situation?
Foreign coach bodies and chassis are always associated with the coach deregulation of 1980 but in reality they had been creeping in to the UK before that, though beginning their peak in the early 1980’s. Continuous imports of Caetano bodies (from Portugal) had begun in the UK in 1969, followed by Volvo chassis (Sweden) and Van Hool (Belgium) bodies (1972), DAF chassis from the Netherlands (1975), Jonckheere bodies from Belgium (1977), Mercedes chassis from West Germany (1978), Unicar and Irizar bodies from Spain (1979), and then Neoplan and MAN SR280 integral coaches from West Germany (1980), before the first Padane body came from Italy in August 1980. In some cases there had been random imports of individual vehicles before these dates. Most of these built up a steady market, without having exceptional sales. The one exception was Caetano, who exported to the UK in comparatively large numbers throughout the 1970’s, following their link up with the UK dealer Moseley in 1968. Their products were built on to the full range of UK chassis, heavy and light weight, and particularly appealed to those in the independent sector who wanted something more exotic from the norm, perhaps for a specific use such as continental touring.
Something more than the norm was in fact the general appeal of any imported chassis or body. Imported chassis such as Volvo offered improved performance, reliability and driver comfort compared to many of the UK products. Imported bodies such as Van Hool likely had higher standards of passenger comfort with better heating and ventilation systems, at a time when Duple and Plaxton by comparison only offered large windows and rudimentary box heaters, meaning that the passenger was roasting in summer and shivering in the winter. It is interesting though that in this period that there were few entirely foreign coaches imported, i.e. most had a foreign chassis fitted with a UK body or had a UK chassis married to a continental body.
This was the state of play at 6th October 1980 when long distance coach services were deregulated, coinciding with a recession, which may have started the decline in the traditional day excursion market and a downturn in foreign package tours by aeroplane. Equally, a younger generation was no longer satisfied with ice creams at Blackpool – they wanted somewhere warmer and more glamorous. Thus those used to holidaying abroad may have traded down from the aircraft whereas the “bucket and spade brigade” may have traded up to the continental coach, which was now offering reasonable pricing matched with comfort. The core UK motorway network was also now in place and deregulation of express routes meant that National Express could be competed against for the first time. It was generally good news for the UK coach industry and the manufacturers that supplied it, but those manufacturers had to build an improved product, both to keep pace with their competitors and to keep the passengers within the coach industry and prevent them switching to other transport modes for their holidays and leisure. Thus the era of the “executive” coach was born, with features such as reclining seats, on board toilets, refreshments and videos, and sometimes air conditioning.
Certain operators in the industry were at the forefront of developments. One such was Trathens based at Yelverton, just north of Plymouth in Devon. In August 1980, just before coach deregulation, they had taken the first Padane body from Italy to be imported into the UK. This was on a Mercedes 0303 chassis and registered ADR 200W. The UK dealer for Padane was Ensign, then of Grays, Essex. Trathens took a similar coach via Ensign in May the following year registered NFJ 369W. This vehicle is believed to be that featured on the October 1981 cover of Buses magazine. Trathens had a penchant for foreign executive coaches such as Neoplan Skyliner double deckers and began the “Rapide” brand with on board toilets & refreshments etc, on its service competing with National Express from Devon to London. National Express later joined forces with them on the route, also adopting the “Rapide” brand which they ironically soon spread across their own network.
Almost a year after Trathens had taken their second Padane, a third such body arrived in the UK. Registration .no. XPP 289X was a Leyland Tiger TRCTL11/3R 12 metre coach with a 47 seat body incorporating a toilet at the rear, video player, refreshment servery and full air conditioning. It was owned by Ensign the dealer itself and was a demonstrator for the joint purposes of the dealer, chassis manufacturer and coach builder. Internally it had what was probably the standard Padane dashboard layout with a Leyland semi-automatic gear selector built into the dash on the left side of the cab. Such a transmission was unusual for the private sector, being more normal for NBC or municipal coaches. Another unusual feature was the internal aircraft-style overhead luggage lockers in lieu of the standard open racks.
Details of its early operations are unclear but a plate affixed to the dash panel in front of the courier seat indicated that it was entered into the 1983 British Coach Rally at Brighton by Sealink, the ferry operator which at that time was owned by British Rail. Whether it was loaned or leased by Ensign to Sealink, or whether Sealink had indeed bought the vehicle, is not ascertained. The information known suggests it had an early life of demonstration and corporate hospitality duties, and was likely sold off later to an operator for more general use. As things turned out, it was new just about at the “peak” of Padane’s UK sales success, and would be the only Leyland to be so bodied.
In 1982 things seemed to be “on the up” for Padane, with some seven further bodies supplied via Ensign for Trathens. These were built progressively throughout the summer, this time on Volvo B10M chassis for the first time. These all entered service later in the year with Trathens registered ADV 142-6/57/9Y. But as ever, things were evolving elsewhere. At the Commercial Motor Show in October 1982, both Plaxton and Duple introduced radical new coach bodies, the Paramount 3200/3500 and Laser/Caribbean respectively. These coachbuilders had finally answered the call for UK-built executive vehicles that could rival the imports. Previous attempts to update their existing Supreme and Dominant ranges to executive standards had had varying success. The Supreme IV and Dominant IV bodies with smaller/sloping windows respectively looked quite good and may have kept passengers cooler, but the Plaxton Viewmaster and Duple Goldliner looked nothing more than the ugly high floor hybrids that they were. But at last the UK manufacturers had got it right, and coupled to such chassis as the new Volvo B10M and Leyland Tiger, some of the best coaches ever produced for the UK market had now arrived.
Further to this though, Padane had problems specific to its status in the UK market. In the same month that Ensign had taken delivery of their Tiger/Padane demonstrator, they had also taken a Volvo B10M, reg. no. CAR 154X, which was the first UK import from the Dutch coachbuilder Berkhof. At the end of 1982, Ensign struck up a deal to supply Berkhof products to the UK market, and this was likely at the expense of Padane, who were perhaps expensive and much further away from the UK than most other European manufacturers, being based in Italy. So, after just ten imports (seven Volvos, 2 Mercedes and 1 Leyland), and all but one of them for Trathens, Padane stopped supplying bodies for the UK. It is difficult then to see why XPP 289X was entered into the 1983 British Coach Rally – who was it representing, and for the benefit of whom? Ensign had seemingly now abandoned Padane, and Berkhofs had begun to enter the UK in steady numbers from early 1983. Was it purely for Sealink’s purposes, or were Padane involved, hoping to seek a new UK agent to sell their products? Or indeed were Ensign still involved, trying in vain to sell a brand that was going nowhere as regards UK sales? Whatever the reason, this is pretty much where both Padane and XPP 289X dropped off the UK radar, until the latter was discovered by Delta Coaches at the auction centre in Manchester in early 1992.
Delta Taxis had started when several owner drivers had joined forces in 1981 to combat the effects of the then recession. In October 1986 they had begun operating deregulated bus services on Teesside with a new subsidiary, Delta Coaches. As well as service buses they had acquired some middle-aged coaches mainly for local private hire but standards improved in 1990 when they acquired the Volvo B10M/Duple Goldliner, reg.no. HIL 6580, and a nearly-new B10M/Duple 340 F231 OFP (later HIL 6755). These initially were used on work such as excursions and National Express call-outs but the company soon branched out with another subsidiary, Delta Holidays, into continental work with an emphasis on budget trips to the new Euro Disney (now Disneyland Paris). This is where the newly-acquired Tiger/Padane came into its own. It was one of several early/mid 80’s executive coaches acquired by Delta in the early 90’s including a LAG and a Jonckheere Bermuda.
XPP 289X was re-registered by Delta to FIL 8694 and painted into the then livery of white with blue and red stripes. The ailing air conditioning system (still rare for any coaches in 1992 – it didn’t become common until the late-90’s) was re-gassed and the coach was described as “like a refrigerator”, this being a compliment because it was very temperate in hot weather. It apparently regularly worked to Disneyland Paris in this early period but sometimes suffered from being non-standard. A replacement rear windscreen proved impossible to source and it is believed that it had to be panelled over for a time. Then Delta undertook a school trip as far as Italy and allocated FIL 8694 to it. They took the opportunity to visit the Padane factory and its reappearance having journeyed from the UK was well received by those employed there and it is believed that the replacement rear screen was obtained and collected from here.
Delta Holidays business grew in the still-modest times of the mid-90’s, with the gradual expansion of the Disneyland Paris complex. The tour programmes for both UK and abroad were expanded and they also undertook work for another tour operator, Leger Holidays. They acquired their first new coach in 1994, and in 1995 they acquired several more Tigers from Hart Coaches when that operator ceased operations. These vehicles were useful to the company because drivers often only had automatic licences. In July 1995 Delta took over the operations and vehicles (including more Tigers) of the Stagecoach Transit subsidiary Cleveland Coaches in exchange for surrendering their local bus services. “The Padane” as it was known within the company was one of two coaches painted into a new brown livery which ultimately was not adopted by the rest of the fleet. It also lost its original Padane front panel which was replaced by a Plaxton Paramount one. It is debatable whether this improved or worsened the appearance but was a retrograde step for purists and authenticity.
Delta bought another new coach in 1997 and purchased other second hand executives, the last arriving in 1999. They prospered fairly well in this period before cheap flights and internet bookings really took hold. The Padane generally performed reliably and was more than adequate for private hire, excursions, and the seasonal X30 service to Blackpool, but suffered from a loss of crawler gear for a time in 1999 which sometimes posed difficulties especially on one excursion when it couldn’t climb the bank out of Beamish Museum. This was repaired and in 2000 the toilet was removed and it was up- seated to 51, the extra seats being obtained from redundant Royal Tiger/Paramount HIL 6587 (ex A851 UYM of Grey Green). This was a positive move as toilets on older coaches become unhygienic, ingrained with dirt and damp, and often do not work properly.
It was repainted in summer 2000 by Abbey Coaches, out of the brown livery and into the pseudo-Leger Holidays livery that Delta now used. Delta did quite a lot of work for Leger but to adopt their livery for most of the fleet was either misguided ambition, or downright forwardness. Perhaps the intention was to appear that Delta was part of a much larger UK-wide organisation. The side lockers of the coach had now seen better days with rusting locks and hinges, and they were quite difficult to open. This in turn caused water ingress and dirt to gather inside. These problems are difficult to remedy on ageing coaches so they were not repaired. The rear luggage boot lock/catch had long since broken, so the boot had to be accessed via the side flaps. The interior airline-style luggage lockers worked quite well but one or two would notclose properly by this time. These body defects were only typical of a vehicle of its age and it was still quite reliable and adequate for most local work.
However, in June 2001, the Padane was due for MOT. It needed some remedial work but there was basically little wrong with it. However, Delta’s financial situation was not improving and it was decided not to re-submit the vehicle. This was one of a few vehicles laid up with a view to eventually “getting them back on the road” but the reality was harsher and it never happened due to problems both in staffing and finance, typical of many small businesses. Thus the vehicle was laid up in the yard for some 18 months until Delta ceased coach operations in January 2003 and the Delta Holidays subsidiary was sold to Compass Royston.
Delta sold their newer coaches through trade advertisements, but an auction was held in the February to sell off the older stock. This had mixed fortunes but the Padane was sold to ITC, the sister company of Compass Royston who undertook coach and commercial vehicle repairs. They wanted it for “spare parts”, though presumably this was for the Leyland chassis rather than the obsolete Padane body, where even fittings such as the seats would not obviously fit into anything else. At this stage it was technically still a runner but had little or no resale value within the industry. Also, it did not come to the attention of the wider preservation movement, some of whom may have been interested in it. It was moved around the various Compass Royston/ITC premises at Thornaby and Bowesfield until it settled in Compass Roystons yard where parts began to be removed when required. In particular the semi-automatic gear control was removed from its position within the standard Padane dashboard and fitted into the Atlantean EJR 107W, when Compass Royston converted this from fully to semi-automatic transmission. The interior began to be ripped apart as access to chassis parts was needed, and by being parked near the fence at a remote & unlit part of the premises, the vehicle suffered some broken windows from vandals.
In retrospect it is unfortunate that efforts were not made to sell it on for further use or secure it for preservation. But with its current owner only vaguely aware of its uniqueness this did not happen, and one Saturday in May 2005 a breakdown truck arrived to tow the forlorn looking vehicle away. Farrow’s Metal Merchants, situated next to Compass Royston on the Bowesfield Industrial Estate, took it to their premises where they broke it up. Though it had had a long and useful life it shouldn’t have come to this undignified end. It was an opportunity lost because when looked into deeper, it simply wasn’t just “any old coach”. If it had survived into preservation it would have epitomised the era of executive coaching, and the ethos of the progressive independent coach operator. It is unclear whether any of the Trathens Padane bodies survive. Being on Mercedes and Volvo chassis there is a reasonable prospect but then again how many enthusiasts know of Padane bodies? - Possibly only those who are familiar with Trathens and Delta.
XPP 289X/FIL 8694 was pivotal both in the fortunes of Padane and of Delta Coaches. It was a vehicle in the eye of the storm of the deregulated coach industry. There was little wrong with the vehicle itself. Both chassis and body were sound and reliable. Its fate was always decided by industry politics, whether these be of major players like Ensign and its competitors, or the struggling local coach operator like Delta. If the person (s) involved at Ensign had chosen Padane instead of Berkhof, who knows how things would have turned out?
Coaching is a mercurial business in any circumstances, but in the heady days of the early 1980’s everyone was jostling for their piece of the market, and as with any phenomenon, some burned out while others stabilised and prospered. Padane had entered the UK market at the very peak of this phenomenon and would depart it before that peak was over. But they weren’t the only victims. Unicar bodies were establishing themselves in 1980, but their importing dealer Moseley ended the arrangement just as coach deregulation arrived, and they would not build again for the UK. Bedford and Ford had enjoyed unprecedented success in the 1970’s with a good helping hand from the Bus Grant, but their vehicles were slow and/or unsophisticated, and prone to unreliability if worked too hard, compared to new marques that were appearing. As such they ceased production in the mid-1980’s. Imported bodies such as Smit (associated with DAF chassis) and LAG enjoyed brief UK success in the 1980’s, but were probably too small to survive. Like Padane they were all swept away by a market whose post-1980 additions included such names as Kassbohrer Setra, Scania, Bova and Berkhof, which had a larger international footing and are still prospering in the UK coach market. The major manufacturers often have business relationships with each other which enhance their prosperity. Padane never reached this stage in the UK. Perhaps it is not so much “survival of the fittest”, but merely who you know?
In preparation of this article, additional information was sourced from the website “Bus Lists On the Web”.
A Letter from Canada Newsletter No 107 January 2009
A letter from Canada
Member Paul Bateson, who has links with the Hexham area and has had a lifetime working the bus industry, here in Southend and also in Ontario is now officially retired. His many bus interests have led him into a bus preservation project. This is a first report on what he is doing:
11th December 2008
Bristol Lodekka, KPW 482E, has been parked on the property of Mississauga Truck & Bus in Milton, Ontario since 2005 and prior to that on their previous property in Mississauga from 1996. This 1967 FLF came to Canada for operation with Stagecoach owned Gray Coach Lines Inc. in 1992. Following the takeover of the company by Greyhound Canada, this Lodekka and BHU 976C were moved to MTB’s facilities. BHU 976C was sold and is now thought to be in the Hamilton area.
KPW 482E was refurbished by MTB between 1996 and 1999 as time permitted. KPW received a very attractive red, white and grey livery. The bus was never licensed for use and remained parked.
During November 2008 I received a call from MTB advising me that they needed to move the bus off property as they needed the space for their customers’ buses. The company is very busy refurbishing buses as their prime business. They did not want the bus to go for scrap but to someone who might be interested in saving this bus.
To keep a long story short, I am pleased to say that the bus has been saved for restoration into running condition. The three joint owners are (in alphabetical order) Paul Bateson, Ken Tudhope and Dustin Watson. Now the first name sounds familiar whilst Ken is in charge of maintenance at DDT, Niagara Falls and Dustin is the owner’s son.
The bus was collected last Friday, 5th. December, and towed to Niagara Falls where it was treated to under cover accommodation with DDT. The first time this bus has been parked out of the elements for at least 16 years!!
The Lodekka is in reasonable condition. The engine runs and the bus does drive which is good news. It does need a driver’s seat and the cab area needs quite a bit of work especially with the wiring. The interior is rather scruffy after animals have obviously been inside as many seat cushions have been ripped but quite restorable. It is rather good that the moquette seems to match some of the moquette used on the Routemasters!!
This Lodekka was new to Eastern Counties as FLF 482 and was part of the famous VR/FLF swop of 1973 when it went to Eastern Scottish and became AA981. Part of the AA fleet number is still displayed.
I have attached a photograph of the bus arriving at Niagara Falls and the rest of the set appears on the fotopic site at
Hope you have enjoyed this little story.
Paul A. Bateson,
Bristol buses on Teesside - Issue 112 December 2009
Bristol buses on Teesside
A hundred years of trams and buses on Tees-side
For over eighty years, between 1914 and 1996, there were Bristol manufactured buses on the fleet strength of operators on Teesside
The story began in Edwardian times, before the First World War when the Imperial Tramways Co. introduced a batch of solid tyre C65 models on routes in Stockton and Middlesbrough. They were fitted with Bristol built 33 seat rear entrance bodies. Little is known of these buses but they were innovative for their day and were introduced to feed the tramway system introduced in 1898 between Norton and North Ormesby and the Linthorpe line which ran from the town centre to the limits of the town at Linthorpe.
Its fleet number is unknown but when the Imperial Tramways Co system was purchased by Middlesbrough Corporation in 1921 it was allocated fleet no 65 by Middlesbrough
One of the routes operated was from the Exchange bus station on Marton Road to the newly built suburb of Grove Hill.
They were eventually withdrawn by 1923 but two further new Bristol’s were bought by Middlesbrough Corporation in 1922 and lasted until withdrawn in 1931 one serving as a wagon until 1933
Stockton’s share of the ex Imperial Bristol which had been used on the Yarm to Stockton service were not withdrawn until 1927
No more Bristol were bought by Middlesbrough Corporation but two more 26 seat “B” models were delivered to Stockton Corporation in 1930
These two buses were not particularly successful and were both disposed of by 1938, one to a Tyneside showman, it subsequently survived WWII and was finally broken up in 1948
The manufacturing company Bristol Tramways and Carriage Company had of course got connections with the GWR and LMS and the Thomas Tilling Group forming an association in 1931. A parallel separate Company, Bristol Aeroplane Company was owned by the Sir George White but on his the death it went its separate way
The war years saw Bristol production severely curtailed but some “unfrozen” buses were produced in 1943-44.
The next buses with Bristol built chassis to come to a Teesside municipally owned undertaking, were three K6G models with double deck Massey bodies, obtained by Stockton Corporation via the Ministry of Supply in July 1947
They were handsome buses and lasted until 1960 when they were sold by a County Durham dealer for scrap.
Middlesbrough Corporation has many Leyland and Guy buses in the twenty five years after WWII. Stockton also bought a lot of Ministry authorised Daimler and Guy buses obtained in the austerity years after the conflict but then tended to favour Leyland as a chassis supplier.
The amalgamation of local municipals into one operation when Teesside County Borough was formed in 1968 heralded the way for standardisation of the fleets. Initially Stockton favoured Leyland Atlanteans as did the Teesside Railless Traction board, whereas Middlesbrough favoured the Daimler Fleetline
Eventually under the guidance of Ron Holland and Roy Cotterill the Fleetline became the standard double deck chassis and would have remained so but for the formation of a new manufacturing company British Leyland Motor Holdings.
Rationalisation of the chassis manufacturing facilities of this huge but undercapitalised company meant the ceasing of production of both the Atlantean and Fleetline and their replacement by the Bristol VR and untried B15 which was principally designed for London Transport. There was also a design for the prototype Olympian
As reported in Newsletter 111 by Roy Cotterill, a decision was taken for the newly formed Cleveland Transit to buy fifteen Bristol VR models
Most lasted ten years until the de-municipalisation of the undertaking and several saw service for many years afterwards in the private market.
Our own RDC 106R was a good example and after being disposed of in 1987 it passed to Jones on Anglesey, North Wales
The only two other Bristol buses to operate were two LH models both purchased for the Driver Training Unit One built in 1975 OCA 640P and numbered 504 in the Cleveland Transit Ltd fleet was purchased in 1996 and disposed of twelve months later as Stagecoach Transit No. 28
Its simple Gardner engine and rugged manual gearbox fitted it well for this duty. It had a sister vehicle, WEX 640P, Transit 27 which also lasted in the trainer fleet until 1997
Of course Bristol buses were very common on Teesside being the mainstay of the United Automobile Services fleet ever since 130 “B” type chassis were purchased by the fledgling company in 1928. The association with the Tilling Group saw United becoming the largest user of Bristol vehicles for many years
How different things could have been - issue 113 Jan/Feb 2010
How different might things have been? David Hunter
The immediate post war years were in many ways good times for the bus industry, particularly here in the North East of England.
After wartime travel restrictions were eased there was an apatite for bus travel in the area. There were many service camps still with considerable numbers of soldiers and airmen wanting to travel to local towns for relaxation and leave, private cars were few and far between, I remember, as a child of the time, that the village in which I lived had few people with cars, a couple of the landed gentry, the vicar and the local doctor. Even the district nurse used a Sunbeam bicycle for her long round
In the urban areas of Teesside, Wearside and Tyneside people were finding new ways of enjoying their new found freedom and leisure time by visiting cinemas, dance halls as well as travelling to local shops to purchase the goods that gradually became available with the end of the rationing of food and clothing
Buses carried more passengers than the still aged fleets could cope with and replacements were not readily available in large numbers as the bus building industry recovered from its enforced war materials production schedules
There were major political changes afoot too, Labour had won the 1945 General Election and there was a mood for change. The 1947 Transport Act heralded that change
The British Transport Commission was formed as a result and the Railway Companies, Canals, Docks and large sections of the Road Haulage industry were nationalised. There were powers envisaged to take the major bus undertakings into the care of the BTC but this proved very difficult because it was so fragmented. As well as the two major groups, there were many municipally owned operations as well as a multitude of independent operators who strongly resisted the proposals.
The Tilling Group, of which United Automobile Services was a part, decided to sell to the BTC, much of the Group had of course been controlled by the Railway Companies now Nationalised. It became part of the BTC on 1st January 1948.
The British Electric Traction Group, which owned Northern and its subsidiaries resisted the act though and decided to fight the proposals
The North East area was chosen as a “pilot” scheme in the Nationalisation program and the Northern Area Passenger Road Transport Board was to be set up. This was to encompass three areas, Northern (North Tyneside and Gateshead), Central area (North Durham) and Southern area (South Durham and North Yorkshire).
There were proposals to take in municipally owned undertaking as a first part of this, these included Darlington Corporation, Newcastle Corporation, South Shields Corporation, Sunderland Corporation, Stockton on Tees Corporation and West Hartlepool Corporation. These were to be vested in the BTC first followed by the Northern Group and then a list of the smaller independents.
Just before the election was held in June 1950 the BTC bought three important independent Companies, these were Darlington Triumph Services, ABC Motor Services of Ferryhill and the Express Omnibus Company of Durham.
These three were formed into Durham District Services which was put under the management control of UAS but importantly covered part of the area which had been traditionally divided between Northern and UAS under an agreement made in 1924.
The full Nationalisation scheme never came to fruition however, as another General Election was held in 1950 and the Conservatives came to power and the scheme was dropped.
The formation of the National Bus Company in 1969 saw effort to bring the big groups under state control but the municipals continued to be owned by the people through their Councils for many years until privatisation under the Conservative Government in the mid 1980s.
Had the industry had more integration in the time between the early fifties and the 1980s would things have been radically different?
Who knows? But times were changing anyway, car ownership increased dramatically in the early 1960s as the nation became more prosperous and we now have a generation which has largely turned its back on Public Transport in favour of the expensive “freedom” of car ownership.
It's the Journey, not the destination that matters
An ongoing series by David Hunter linking current bus journeys made using a National Concession Pass with life in the past seventy years
Travelling by service bus is to me, one of the joys of modern life.
Increasing age and the advent of the National Concession Pass have combined to make the experience even more interesting and therefore enjoyable as the days of life roll on.
I was brought up during World War II and its aftermath and lived in a country environment where cars were not a common sight, the country bus was my lifeline to a new horizon, beyond the fields and stone walls of the North Yorkshire countryside.
Most of my early journeys, particularly those taken after the age of nine, were taken alone, without a parent to guide me and I soon learned to be independent and to be able to find my way from service to service in an ever widening world.
I lived at that time on the route of United Auto’ Service 29 which ran from the railway centre of Darlington to the Swaledale town of Richmond. We had a two hourly service for six days per week with buses starting and finishing to suite the odd person who travelled into Darlington to work and the needs of school pupils like me who travelled to and from Richmond Grammar School each day.
When I was twelve, my family moved to Stainton in Cleveland. My dad was a farm worker and a job with a house which wasn’t a tied cottage was seen as an advantage. Our new “Council House” was one of twelve in Stainton which were reserved for agricultural workers. It had a water lavatory instead of night soil buckets and a gas supply enabling us to cook our food without having to stoke the coal fire and a gas oven which was a big bonus to a growing family.
Here, the bus service was provided by Middlesbough Corporation with its lovely blue buses. I had to travel to Yarm each day however, having been offered the economically impossible choice of remaining at Richmond as a boarder or living in my new home and transferring to Yarm Grammar School as a day boy.
To get to school in Yarm though was a bit of a problem, the only way by bus was to go to Acklam, then Stockton and eventually Yarm, too far and too long a journey to be practical. In those days, both Stainton and Yarm were in the rural county of North Yorkshire. I was not able to go to a school in Middlesbrough which was politically separate, but had to travel to Yarm each day to learn the ways of the world.
My mother managed to get the Parish Grant for me, a bursary, to enable the poor of the Parish to better themselves. This was enough for me to buy a second hand ladies bike on which I cycled every day the three miles to High Leven where “Gordon’s Bus”, a Bedford OB, would pick up local children from Hilton and the Ingleby Barwick farmsteads to travel to Yarm. I and three others went to the Grammar School and the rest to the local County School in Yarm
One day in 1951, the bus was travelling up the narrow Barwick Lane to the outlying farms at Roundhill when a herd of cows stampeded from the farm building across the road in front of the bus. Despite a valiant effort by the driver to brake, the Bedford smashed into the milk stand, scattering the full churns and pushing the front axle under the front seat, unfortunately trapping the legs of the child in the seat.
I myself was in the back seat, as any self respecting youth would be, and ever attentive to what was going on around me, braced myself against the frame of the seat in front of me as the bus skidded and smashed into the wooden stand and brick wall.
A school colleague sitting next to me wasn’t so lucky and smashed her nose onto the seat in front breaking it badly requiring medical treatment
This interruption to the service caused a bit of a problem. A replacement had to be provided by United for a couple of days and then a very elderly Tilling Stevens with a wooden slatted roof was hired in. This only lasted a few days though, the “auto vac” which the more elderly readers will remember as being the “square box” in front of the windscreen, packed up while climbing Leven Bank and the bus spluttered to a halt, necessitating a walk in the rain for us youthful passengers.
Most of the other one hundred and odd pupils of Yarm Grammar School lived in the Stokesley – Yarm- Swainby triangle and came in each day via the yellow Crows bus or by rail from Picton or Thornaby.
Railways were my other interest; I never could play cricket or football like my contemporaries because of my dyspraxia. I used to spend every lunch break in the corner of the school field waiting for the steam locos to struggle their way up the hill over the Yarm viaduct with WDs on coal trains and the endless bogie bolster steel carriers followed by smoking guards van.
Two transport related events occurred each afternoon which governed my school day
One was the stock train, usually double headed, which made up of parcels vans etc being taken back south, there was nothing more exhilarating than a V2 2-6-2 class and a D49 4-4-0 pounding up the hill filling the afternoon sky with smoke and steam, thirty four bogie vans trailing behind.
The other event, certainly in the summer months, was the Blackpool – Middlesbrough, Ribble coach service and one of those handsome, all Leyland, coaches, which operated it.
From June onwards each year, I used to have an urgent need to spend a penny in the afternoon about 2.45, I would dash down the lane to the A19, which in those days ran through Yarm to “spot” it and then breathlessly return to my Geography of English class.
My kindly form master, John Appleyard, used to nod to me and enquire “825” or some such number? He knew full well what was going on but was a transport enthusiast himself.
All this has brought me to the present day and the joys of modern day bus travel
On Friday 17th July I felt the need to visit Newcastle’s Quayside to see the penultimate day of the service being operated by Stagecoach and the Designline hybrid turbine electric buses.
I have followed the commissioning and running of this service over the past five years with enthusiasm.
Its concept by Nexus and execution by Stagecoach in Newcastle has always interested me. Initially it was operated on a five year franchise but was due to change in operation, following the loss of the contract by Stagecoach and the winning by the Go-ahead Group.
The new contract is to be operated by the Go-Ahead Group using Euro V engined Optare Versa buses which Nexus have decided are as green as the hybrids specially procured for the original service.
I am extremely disappointed by this decision; I have proclaimed the original concept throughout the
world by my website “500 Group Bus Enthusiast Guide” which is dedicated to the concept of the service, it can be seen at:
I have even hosted and showed off the system to a former Yarm Grammar School colleague who is in a position of great authority in Surfers Paradise on Australia’s Gold Coast and is actively promoting a similar system to this progressive area
To this end I had to take a look at the operation before it changed regressively for ever and made a journey to Tyneside on Friday 17th July.
I also took this opportunity to sample some of the modern concept of buses operated by three of the big four transport groups in the North East; this is the story of that journey:
Firstly, Arriva service X6. I use this service almost daily to access the rest of the bus network, from my home in Yarm.
This is normally operated by a trio of the impressive Polish built Scania Omnis, these were originally part funded by Stockton Council and are specified with leather seats of a good quality in an effort to get the Yarm and Ingleby Barwick residents user to leave their cars at home and take the bus into central Middlesbrough.
The service has developed nicely but of course was completely disrupted for six months because of the closure of Leven Bridge recently, necessitating a lengthy re-route and diversion, with inevitable consequences for the traffic carried
On this occasion the vehicle was Arriva 4661, an excellent bus. A quick change in Yarm to a following Arriva service 7 saw a rather tired MPD 1701 to Stockton. This service is very popular, at this hour with the odd late starter travelling to town to work but mainly with elderly ladies bent on shopping in Stockton or alighting in Eaglescliffe to visit the Sunningdale Health Centre.
I missed the Darlington bound Arriva X66 by a minute, both the east and west bound services usually arrive at the stand in Stockton at the same time, causing confusion for the short sighted with their LED route indicators.
The service however is half hourly and on this day was worked by Volvo Olympian Arriva 7364; the driver had to work really hard on the speedy trip on the westbound A66. The wind was from the South and was blowing a “Hooley” buffeting the bus and making lane discipline very difficult in the heavy truck traffic. The service is apparently due to be converted to coaches by Arriva, let’s hope that they don’t have the same problems as Go-Ahead with a lack of safe accommodation for shopper’s luggage.
The lightly loaded bus was a nice vehicle, the Northern Counties body has stood up to its mileage well and was virtually rattle free, built in the best Wigan traditions, learned over half a century of bus building.
Entering Darlington down North Road, we overtook one of the now rare Optare Delta bodied DAF buses Arriva 4098. I promptly left the Olly to have what may prove to be a last ride on one of these nice vehicles, which when new and ordered by United were the pinnacle of bus design
Again, I had missed a northbound Arriva service 1 by a minute so a chance was taken to have a morning snack in Darlington’s exiting and lively Covered Market. I can only describe it as one of the best bacon and mushroom baps which I have had the pleasure to consume in recent years, the surroundings in the “Diner” were scruffy but the product and service were excellent
I took my place on stand, the new electronic route indicators indicating a four minute departure, a very useful facility for irregular bus travellers The bus arrived, an Enviro 400 with Dennis running gear, it loaded quickly with about thirty passengers for its journey to Crook, one of the original routes pioneered by Eric Hutchinson when he started United Automobile Services into Bishop Auckland.
Dead on time, it left the stand and travelled through Faverdale towards lovely Heighington and Shildon.
The centre of Shildon has been much re-developed since the demise of the Railway Works and is now a pleasant place to wait for a bus if you have to.
Bishop Auckland bus station, by comparison, was windswept on this blustery day, but after a few minutes we left and travelled down the steep Newton Cap Bank rejoining the A689 to Toronto and Howden-le-Wear. Here the tree guards on the Enviro 400 came into their own, protecting the huge upper deck window from branches that were being tossed in the violent wind outside their normal orbit.
Howden is a pleasant village now shorn of all its industrial past and the lightly loaded bus made few stops for passengers on its run to Crook, passing the impressive new Weardale Motor Services depot on the way.
Near here, on a reciprocal heading, was seen Weardale Motor Services rare Ikarus 481 City bus W6 WMS. These central European built buses are robust, but austere, typifying the standards of the erstwhile communist block manufacturing practices
What is generally not realised by today’s bus enthusiasts is that Ikarus at one time was the world’s most prolific bus builder. Most examples in the UK have been imported by Arriva Bus and Coach whose dealer facility also imports the Temsa Avenue, currently being tried in a small batch by Arriva North East
I alighted in Crook market place, rather than travel on to the quaintly named “Low Mown Meadow” terminus. What a nice small lower dales town this is; beyond the market square, which the buses turn around, is a small village green dominated by a magnificent well kept war memorial, an obelisk in white stone naming the many young dales people who perished as infantry men in the First World War. “Cannon fodder” is the phrase that comes to mind.
A most imposing building facing the green is the local district Council Offices; it houses the usual information room as well as clean and good public toilet facilities and an array of council servants who are working hard to lift this once deprived area out of the mire by its bootstraps
Here, I changed buses onto an Arriva service 46, one of the newly delivered VDL SB200 Wright buses which to my eye look like a “Nokia phone” They are quite a nice body inside, the passenger comfort levels are good with non of the deplorable Enviro 90 seats, the driver of Arriva 1420, however, managed to make it change up and down the gearbox at least five times on the steeply rising hill to Helmington Row, you couldn’t do that with L544, you have to leave it in third and “plod”
Perhaps it is the modern “Nokia” shape that encourages them but the bus was like a telephone exchange inside, young and old passengers having animated conversations with friends, enemies and relatives, all trying to put the world to rights in strident tones for all to suffer
This area, through Willington and Brancepeth, shows signs of its heritage. The predominant retailer here is still the Co-Op. Grocers, butchers, undertakers, are all still owned by the once most popular community owned retail organisation.
Who today, would queue to receive your twice yearly dividend earned from shopping with this politically affiliated organisation? Good to see that it survives in competition with the greedy profit motivated Tesco’s and Asda’s of this world.
Durham Bus Station was soon reached; thankfully I was able to get off the VDL and straight on to a Go-ahead vehicle on an adjacent stand in this congested and truly awful edifice. The bus was one of the Angel liveried B7TL/East Lancs. twin door models recently cascaded from Go-aheads London operations. This operator does not show the bus number on the tickets, making it difficult to keep a log afterwards, especially if you are hopping on and off quickly.
On the journey North to Gateshead Transport Interchange, no one used the centre doors, but at the interchange stand, the driver sensibly opened them allowing the passengers to alight at the same time as a new load were loading for the short journey across the Tyne to Eldon Square
The bus again, seemed well built if a little heavy in styling, it had obviously had a hard life in London as far as the interior was concerned but the passengers gazing at the “Angel of the North” didn’t seem to notice on the journey.
At Gateshead interchange I joined a Quaylink service Q1 to Baltic Square, one of the well work worn Dart/Plaxtons, 32121. These buses, meant as spares for the hard pressed Designlines, are totally unsuitable for this service, not being low floor, indeed a passenger refused to attempt to board with
a wheel chair, instead opting to wait for the next service up from the Riverside.
I left this rattling vehicle at the “Blinking Eye” bridge, crossing this modern structure to the magnificent architecture of the northern bank of the Tyne
One of the virtues of electric vehicles is that they have a characteristic in that the most torque from an electric motor is generated at the slowest speed, unlike a diesel mechanical which needs revs to take it into the torque band of the engine.
This has been a distinct advantage on the extremely hilly routes leaving the banks of the Tyne, to coin a fraise; they go like “Sh.. off a Stick” compared with any Diesel, although battery life has been an issue.
They can leave the City Sightseeing open toppers “for dead” in the hilly environment
Let’s see how the Euro V engines with their low emissions, but low torque, fair when they are eventually introduced.
The new Optare Versa buses are not yet built because the tendering process didn’t allow for them to be ordered in time, so Go-Ahead have acquired a batch of the unloved Caetano Darts from a leasing company as substitutes until the new buses are ready, I quite like the Versas already in service with Go-ahead but they have the Euro IV engine which has more power – time alone will tell.
So it was home once again, I came up from the Quayside with an enthusiast who had travelled from Bristol just to try the innovative Designlines, he was most disappointed, having ridden them all day to learn that they are now redundant – what a waste!
My journey back to Teesside via the X10 was, as usual, one of the Volvo B7TL /Wrights, this time, all plum liveried 3941. They too are nice buses but a little underpowered with a headwind on the southbound journey down the A19; you could tell that around Peterlee, when a seagull overtook the bus. !
It's the journey not the destination that matters Part 2
In which I travel from Stockton to Hartlepools via the Trimdons
On Monday last I travelled to Hartlepool to take a second look at the activities relating to the Tall Ships Race.
I went by Arriva Bus travelling to Sedgefield and changing there to service 33 which did a tour of the Trimdons. I think that this was the route that was pioneered from 1926 by Roger Paul wjho was one of the founders of Trimdon motor Services.
Perhaps the reader would be interested in some notes on this journey.
I had forty minutes to wait in Sedgefield and took a walking tour of the place, what a nice village it is around the back, Cedersfield House is a particularly attractive building and the 13th Century St Edmunds Church is lovely with a fine wooden screen between the Nave and Chancel, there was a coffee morning taking place and the local ladies were only too happy to let me browse this building providing a put £1 in their plate.
Then it was time for the 33 and the short run to Fishburn and Trimdon, no signs of the pit or coke ovens at Fishburn now, the bus deviates through the council estate in Trimdon, some of the houses were pristine but others were having their kicked in doors replaced.
Rejoining the Front Street the bus turned north passing the old Constituency Labour Club, now proclaiming “under new management”. No longer does music “Blair” from the “turn” on Saturday nights, strangely not a sign of “Cameron’s Strong Arm” or even “Black Sheep Old Peculiar”, I think the place is to be renamed the Condemed Club .
Never the less the village is nice and tidy, there is a terrace at the junction “Tees View”, and perhaps this is where the locals gaze at the bright lights of the world on an evening and dream of jobs and prosperity?
The bus sped on to Trimdon Grange past the site of the old bus garage, a young lady boarded and sat opposite me, she was a dead ringer for Dolly Parton, ( I have the sleeve of her LP “Dolly’s Greatest’its on my garage wall.)
This lovely lady however, was no Country singer but instead inserted an earpiece into her right lug and connecting it to her I. pod, she played some heathen tune for all to hear, I suspect that the melody was passing right through her head and exiting from her left ear with no impediment. At Deaf Hill she was joined by a spotty fellow with a Star of David tattooed on his brow. Pity him in British West Hartlepool with its black shirts.
Deaf Hill is another place with heart but no soul, there are a lot of terrace houses with” to let” and a lot for sale proclaiming “Reduced”. This was onnce a thriving colliery village
The retired minors homes are nice and neat, made for men of coal, they all have sun lounges on the fronts covering the doors between the bay windows on the world
The country side between Deaf Hill and the A19 is quite nice, lots of massive wind turbines now produce the regions power, cheaper than men hewing and filling tubs, now they can all stay at home and watch the telly courtesy of the power generators.
So it was down to Hart Village, a nice pub there was doing good business brought by the Tall Ship extravaganza, there was a well organised Park & Ride site nearby
The north end of Hartlepool is desolate, despite Mayor Stuart Drummond’s efforts; the clothing factory which used to be Alexander’s is still in existence, young ladies lounging outside doing their best to activate the fog horn with their mouth held smoke generators
I understand that better times are about to evolve here, they have a contract to make uniforms for Chinese and Indian State Railways!
Hartlepool was heaving, the Tall Ships were magnificent, the accompanying food village had crap from every nation, lots of money been made by the traders. In the town they were crying in their empty tills as locals kept out of town for the duration.
Now the ships have gone below the eastern horizon, all the locals are searching the beach for the “Frenchy” again – who would want to be a monkey in Hartlepool?
Its the Journey not the Destination that matters - Part Three
A journey from Teesside through East Durham to the Land of the Prince Bishops
Recently in early September, 2010 I made another journey by service bus, to Hartlepool and all points North West to Durham – these are some of my personal observations!
After travelling from Yarm via the excellent Arriva X6 to Middlesbrough, I did a “walking tour” of the “over the border” area, this was a recce to see if access was possible for our annual tour of Middlesbrough which we perform using our 1958,ex Middlesbrough Corporation Dennis Loline JDC599
Firstly I walked to the site of the old Steel Exchange, now buried under the A66 which divides Middlesbrough like the partition wall between Turks and Greeks in Nicosia.
There are still some fine building here, some are being renovated to make them fit for 21st century commerce, others are occupied by Government Quangos, due to be wound down in the near future. Under Albert Rd Rail Bridge is the true “over the border” area. Queens Square is particularly attractive with PD Ports building occupying a prominent site.
I ventured up the top of the hill to “the old Town Hall”, a building unused now, but of course prominent towards the latter half of the 19th century
The building is boarded up and surrounded by steel spiked fencing to keep the drug addicts and general vagabonds out of mischief. A few of the houses built in the 1970s re-development are still occupied, many others are demolished to make way for the probably still-borne “Middlehaven re-generation”
I spoke with a cheery chap, who seemed to relish in the fact that a stranger had ventured into his patch, he was sitting outside his house at a table-bench, probably half- inched from outside some pub. It was a beautiful autumnal day and he was shirtless, festooned from waist to neck line in tattoos.
“The real world is here” he blurted, “they are all mad out there” he waved to the dereliction in the direction of the brand new Middlesbrough Police Station, on the site where the Catholic Cathedral once stood, before it was replaced by the new one at Coulby Newham. - He was probably right
I trudged back to the bottom end of what was once Suffolk Street, then bustling with local shops, naval outfitters, Lascar eating houses etc. There is a subway under the railway these days, adjacent to where the rail crossing was at one time. Under the subway and between the rail station and the under crofts of the A66 viaduct there is a sign which reads “Historic Quarter”. It points the visitor to the rail station, its historical significance being that it had a direct hit in 1942 by a German bomb and its overall roof destroyed. The sign bears a map and the other side of the rail tracks is left blank!
Ah well, purpose served, it was time to take the bus again.
There are two routes to Hartlepool, via Stockton, Norton and Billingham centre or via Haverton Hill and Seal Sands, I chose the latter
There are fine views of all the new oil related industrial sites on the reclaimed land but nearer the road are now man made ponds which this time of year are full of migrant birds. Brent geese make their daily squadron sorties to the Vale of York to raid the stubble fields of their remaining grain. Other birds wade in the shallows among the basking seal colony.
Then comes the Tioxide “new works”, I always remember a good friend, a young engineer, employed there in the sixties saying, after the road was blocked by an overturned tanker full of pigment, “that it wasn’t one of ours, we haven’t been able to make a lorry load yet”
The Able UK reclamation site, having eventually got planning consents is eating redundant ships and rig structures in great volumes
The French aircraft carrier “Le Clemenceau” is now but a memory as are the five “ghost ships brought from the James River in Virginia, they were dismantled quicker than the Bismarck was by the Fleet Air Arm and Royal Navy. And no one has died from toxic poising or asbestosis yet!
Towards Seaton, there is of course a green and pleasant land, now seaside golf links.
Seaton itself was thronging with visitors, at least the fish and chip shop was, queues stretching along the pavement outside.
A quick change was made at Hartlepool, the bus stop imaginatively proclaiming “The Shops” and on to a Go-ahead X35 bound for Sunderland via Peterlee. This route, through Blackhall, characterised by 1st to 10th street, is fairly direct, descending into the steep valleys of the coastal Deans and then climbing up onto the sea cliffs which characterise this area of the coast
An area which is familiar to me is the area around the crossroads leading to Crimdon Lido. It was here in April 1968, in my early motor sport days, while I was taking part in a grass track race, using a borrowed Ford Anglia that the news came on the radio, that the late Jim Clark OBE had been tragically killed in a minor race at Hockenheim. He was my absolute hero at the time, I knew him slightly having had breakfast with him in late 1967 during the RAC rally.
Peterlee was soon reached and a quick change was made onto an Durham bound Arriva 24A
I have never ridden this route before, indeed some of it I have never ever seen even by car, but it proved most interesting. The driver, Ian Stanness, again a man whom I have known since he was a youthful bus spotter, used to be a Peterlee lad but with the closure of that depot has transferred to Durham/Belmont. We traversed the nether-regions of this somewhat artificial town, there was a lot of delay to the bus as it was Peterlee Show, held in a small park. The roads around were chocked with cars impeding the bus so that by the time it reached the A19 roundabout bound for Shotton it was five minutes down.
Haswell was next, here sparse passengers were joined by young lass and four children all under 5, but two were probably twins. She had difficulty finding her money in her bag, the kids were on, then off and then on the bus. The Peterlee lad, ever patient, waited till she parked her twin buggy in the allocated bay before setting sail again but what a handful they were. The youngest, a lad of barely two would not stay in the buggy, instead climbing on top of his sister and up into the luggage pen.
My mother always taught me that anything was possible, but only if you do it yourself, her philosophy probably came from the Yorkshire saying, “if tha does owt for nowt, al’us do if thi sen”.
This young child is obviously having the same upbringing, in later years he will probably emulate Sherpa Tenzing’s relationship to some toff Edmund Hillary, a man who does all the work, but gets none of the credit. In life, he will probably join the army. as a lot of youths do in these parts and become a Lance Jack, he will ask his officer how to do something of valour?, and the reply will be “just carry on Corporal”.
Another chap got on, complete with a sack of drain cleaning rods, their turgid augers in my face from the seat in front
The driver then made a furrow up the track to Haswell Plough, crossing the B1283 Then, it was into Ludworth, a place I have never visited before and then Shadforth, completely unspoiled and unexpected, its neat village green being picture perfect
The views over the Wear Valley to Durham and beyond were quite spectacular here; I had no idea that the coastal ridge was so high above the lush valley
The bus safely flew down Crime Ridge Bank, probably so named as it is a barrier against errant Hartlepudlians and then Sherburn Hill, into Sherburn Village, here the prolific mother and tribe, disorderly disembarked. The next stop was packed with pensioners. Passes were waived in the air and at least thirty filled every spare seat, the talk was of “missed lines and full houses”. I thought they were speaking of the theatre, but then realised that that edifice is now a Bingo Hall - to each his own.
I must send an e-mail to David Cameron, about interfering with the availability of bus passes, if he does that here, a Tory will never again get elected in this part of the Peoples Republic of East Durham!
Eventually to the land of the Prince Bishops; Durham was a delight, at least the bus station was. It is so disorganised, nothing comes into its correct stand because of congestion, and this causes an orderly queue to stampede to the alternative gate. One lady waiting for a Teesside bound X1 complained there hadn’t been one for an hour; she had probably missed the blinking lights above the stand
The X1 is a premium service for Arriva, being part funded to enable Durham University Students to interchange with their Queens Campus on Teesside, my good friend is of course the Dean of the Medical School at the Campus, which is based at Stocktons Riverside site, where the dear Margaret Thatcher made her famous walk in the wilderness.
The buses used are cast offs from Arriva Midland, elderly but robust dual purpose Scanias, they have semi coach seats which are very comfortable but the suspension is from a truck. On the rough road through Coxhoe, over the series of mini roundabouts, they are spine jarring.
Leaving Coxhoe near to where the road meets the A177, is a garden with an ex American Army six wheel military truck with desert camouflage on it, perhaps is it there to scare off the West Cornforth Taliban from across the valley?
The north side industrial estate approaching Sedgefield was only noteworthy for the blood stained butchers playing football in the afternoon sunshine, either they were practicing for the annual Shrove Tuesday rumble or were from George Bolams meat factory on a tea break.
So to Stockton, the disorganised lady, on her hobby-horse about missing buses all the way from Durham, berated the unfortunate driver who wouldn’t stop at the Two Mile House, instead carrying on to the junction into Hardwick’s North Tees Hospital
This is a relic of an earlier 1960s “Bus Wars” when Stockton Corporation had a battle royal with the Traffic Commissioners about upstarts such as Scurrs and Wilkinson’s pinching their customers when Hardwick Estate was first built. The Commissioner banning them from picking up and setting down in the local area - perhaps she should read our book “Stockton Corporation Transport”
Stockton and an Arriva 7 MPD to Yarm again. An inconsiderate private coach, transporting footy supporters was blocking the stand at Yarm Town Hall, to all incoming buses, for twenty five minutes, while its passengers relieved them-selves in local pubs. Eventually the X6 made it to the stand after the coach driver moved on fearing he would be pushed up the road by the Omni – normal service was resumed - Another trip full of interest for me – it beats watching footy on the telly”
It’s the Journey - Not the destination that matters - Part IV
From Issue No. 108 November /December 2010
A Yorkshire Odyssey
The matter of the defect to my eyesight that has recently developed has caused a massive re-adjustment to my life, not least in the methods of transport which I need to employ
One of the main problems is how to travel to our family business in Harrogate from my home, which I need to do quite frequently and regularly.
During mid November I decided to make the journey for a three day period and take a “busman’s holiday” in the process
After consulting the various internet travel guides, I came up with what seemed an interesting route via Middlesbrough, Whitby, Malton, Tadcaster and Weatherby. There was something wrong here though, Traveline didn’t show timetables on the direct X40 Coastliner service over the North York’s moors, perhaps they are summer only?
This caused me to rethink and plan a more direct route via Darlington, Northallerton and Ripon.
So on Monday 15th November I packed my bag and my camera and set out for Yorkshire.
Arriva is my local operator and so I took the ten minute interval service 7 from Yarm to Stockton, this uses Dennis Dart buses, ideal for this high frequency service, they have enough standing room for the peak area of usage down Yarm Lane into central Stockton.
The Darlington bound X66 was caught in Stockton, again a Dart, not usual on this service, which runs every twenty minutes these days. Some journeys use one of the re-furbished DAF SB3000 coaches but this is unpopular with pensioners because of the high entrance steps which make it difficult to climb into.
The service 72 to Northallerton is also Arriva operated these days. The bus on this occasion was one of the nice Optare Solo buses which are allocated to Darlington Depot.
These are in the care of Mick McFadden, who was of course, the workshop supervisor at Transit, transferring with Stagecoach to Darlington as the man in charge before the Arriva take over of Darlington services
I used to use these services Darlington - Northallerton services as a boy, sixty five years ago, to visit my various family relatives, most of whom lived on farms in the Croft and Northallerton area.
During the dark days of WWII the North Yorkshire airfields were populated by mainly Canadian flyers.
The first part of the services south from Darlington was augmented in the 1940’s by buses operated by Abbotts. These I recall were Bedford OBW models with “Utility” bodies, their angular sheet metal bodywork being made available for limited production to operators who were engaged in essential war work. Abbots were such an operator, serving many airfields at the northern end of the Vale of York.
They left from a stand in the “Leadyard” which was where the main busy bus terminal was in Darlington.
The main United service to Northallerton was the 20 in the 1940s, these left from a stand in the Feethams. They were operated by Leyland Lions
Because of the acute shortage of imported fuel, these buses ran on Producer Gas. This was made in a unit carried on a two wheeled trailer. They consisted of a corrugated iron coated burner and a water tank. The water was fed onto the incandescent anthracite and the resultant gas was used as a fuel for the converted petrol engine. A job for the conductor was to replenish the burner unit with coke every few miles; this was carried in the “boot area of the Leyland TS3 buses.
I think that Northallerton was the main depot where these were operated by United; it was seen as necessary for providing essential transport for troops and airmen going on R and R breaks from their wartime duties
Here the fun started. The driver was probably related to recently crowned F1 world champion Sebastian Vettel. Four minutes down on loading, caused by his eating his lunch of a locally bought sandwich, the extremely busy service was delayed at every stop on the way to Thirsk.
He “positively” drove the Cummins engined bus all the way south down the A168, detouring to Thornton-le-Beans, a sleepy village which used to have an ex Smurthwaites Bedford in use as a cricket pavilion. In 1947 my cousin made me a toy wooden cow shed as a lad, with the roof made from a panel bearing the seating capacity from the bus
There is a large housing estate in East Thirsk between the A19 bypass and the market town. Here the bus was extremely busy decanting shoppers laden with purchases from Northallerton’s bustling shops.
Consequently on taking his compulsory “pit stop” at Thirsk Market, we lost track position behind a Reliance bus to York and a Hutchinson’s to Coxwold.
On regaining the circuit he got the message to try and win, he hurried through Carlton Miniott to Busby Stoop and then flew along, past Allenbrooke Barracks, the Cummins on the rev limiter, nearly out braking himself on the right hander into Topcliffe village.
Here we skirted the A168 turning north west again we sped safely but surely through the villages of Asenby and Rainton to re-cross the A168 at Dishforth; a point which is twenty four minutes by car but over three hours by bus from my home
The village of Dishforth has a peculiar turning circle around the now redundant Christ Church. Here the Yorkshire F1 star had to reverse in order to complete the circle because of a badly parked car blocking his exit from the circle.
A couple of quick gear changes and back under the currently being rebuilt A1 (M) to Sharow and Ripon, entering the City down Hutton Bank on the A61. The four or five local still on the Solo knew the road well, they grabbed the poles and seat-top rails at the approach to every corner.
I left the bus at Ripon at the bus station under the shadow of the Cathedral. “Tight timing” I said to the perspiring driver. “You bet” he replied.
I watched buses in Ripon Market for half an hour, while taking the ever good pasty from Greggs, a trick learned from Geoff Tattersall on our annual Bashers Day
Instead of joining a Harrogate bound 36 I instead opted for the Dales and District, County supported service 139.
This is a true county bus service, operating a circular route twice per day anti-clockwise in the morning and clockwise in the afternoon
The twin rear wheeled, van based mini bus used has only 12 seats, being fitted with a rear door mounted tail lift for wheelchairs as required by the North Yorkshire County council contract.
We had seven passengers for the 70 minute journey, they all obviously knew each other, and viewed a stranger with curiosity.
The journey itself was truly wonderful, it was a lovely sunny November afternoon, the trees still had their russet leaves, the frost was lying in the valleys sheltered from the sun, low in the western sky.
Most of the passengers were NCP holders, some frail, coming to replenish their larders from the shops in Ripon; living must be hard for car-less people in such a rural setting these days. When I was a child, living in a country village was idyllic; we kept our own pig, milk from the farm, potatoes and vegetables from our own patch. Everyone was self supporting – how times have changed
The only exceptions to the passenger profile were myself and an “ageing hippy” clutching a Sainsbury bag, welly clad with a hooded anorak.
The mini bus automatically drove itself guided by the driver, an elderly southerner who was most uncommunicative with me but not with the locals.
At each stop after Wormald Green, the villages of Markington, the derelict Drovers Arms, Sawley and
Grantly the driver stopped where ever the passengers wished to alight. He would leave his seat, after opening the glass plug door and assist the elderly to the muddy ground
Near Winksley the weird, welly wearer wearily walked away into the wilderness. He went though a gap in the stone wall, and trudged into the setting sun towards the moor - who know to where?
The route took us in the form of an inverted letter “G” bending back inside the circle to historic Fountains Abbey; here we waited a while, the driver sullenly amusing himself with a word game in the “Mirror”.
After ten minutes, the driver reset the ticket machine and set off to travel the three miles back to Ripon, even the pheasants at Studley Royale didn’t want to travel today, the cocks strutting the park in defiance of the plus-four clad shooting parties in their Range Rovers.
It was time to go on to Harrogate, I sat in the back of the leather clad Volvo on the 36, quiet and luxurious upstairs, growling, hot and noisy in the lower rear seats.
Tomorrow is another day
After a convivial evening at the Knox Arms I had planned to explore West Yorkshire on Tuesday morning. Unlike Teesside you cant use a NCP in North Yorkshire before 09.30, so it was the 09.44 Service 2B to Harrogate, a difficult route, narrow roads and parked cars make a drivers job difficult in Harrogate, the hills don’t help either.
At Harrogate’s well planed bus station, I quickly changed to an N.Y.C.C. supported service 767 to Leeds - Bradford Airport. This is currently operated by Dales and District, the driver travelling from Leeming Bar at 04.30 for the first service of the day at 05.30. It may well be abandoned because of the spending restraints now being introduced; indeed I was the only passenger on the almost new ADL200.
We sped up Poole Bank, I remember this from my very first experience of driving a bus, as a twenty one year old delivering, a then new, Ford Thames Demonstrator coach, from my employers in Stockton to Hebble Motor services in Halifax. It had a four speed box and an Eaton two speed axle, I soon got the hang of using it as a splitter; third high, four low, fourth high. I remember trying to catch a Sunter Brothers Harrington Tiger carrying a load of Sqaddies on weekend leave from Catterick Camp to Lancashire. No chances of catching it up the hill but down the other side to Apperley Bridge it was another story in four high!
At the LBA it was quite icy but sunny, a de-planeing passenger, bent on getting his car from the car park, went base over apex on the ice, an off duty air hostess going to his aid.
For myself I joined a Centrebus Scania Omni service 747 to Bradford, this service has a much better chance of surviving it was quite busy through Yeadon town centre on its way to Greengates and Bradford.
Bradford is a fine City, I used to spend a lot of time there in my youth, hawking round the railway stations where ex L.M.S engines were. to my North Eastern eyes, a rare sight and the glorious new Standard “Clans” could be seen working through Thackley Tunnel to Carlisle.
My real love of buses came from here, standing at the Howarth Road terminus near to where my maternal Grandparents lived, warming my back on the radiator of AEC Regents, the smell of Diesel and lubricating oil will stay with me forever
I had intended to continue on to say Wakefield or even Barnsley but decided that as it was such a nice day I would take a nostalgic look at Bradford City Centre
The easiest way is to take the excellent normally free shuttle round the centre
This uses three Optare Solo buses and just goes round ten stops in an anti clockwise circle and is absolutely packed all the time. This service is a concept that many progressive city councils are now funding and passengers find it extremely useful to hop on and off at will.
I did one and a quarter circuits of the hilly City, alighting at Foster Square station, now a shadow of its former self, only four tracks serving Skipton and Leeds via Shipley
The once thriving goods depot, which my uncle Alf managed for British Railways, is now all but demolished, replaced by a retail park and car park; its traffic from the mail order houses such as “Great Mills” and “Empire Stores” having disappeared to the all consuming road transport industry
Bradford’s other station was Exchange, now part of the Transport Interchange.
It was here, when I was fourteen that I used to go to “cab” the B1s that brought the London trains, split into two five coach parts at Wakefield, into Bradford. Then, after decanting its business men passengers, clothing buyers and merchants, the train would reverse up through the smoky tunnels to Laistedyke to be turned on the triangle of lines, then in forward gear towards Wakefield and then gently back down again into the Exchange platforms.
After a couple of days of “cabbing”, when I would automatically get down onto the platform to await its return, the kindly driver said, “does tha’ fancy stayin’ on”.
"Too right” I did, then on the third day after watching his every move he said,” get thy sen in ‘ere”, vacating the driver’s seat. “Just gently open the throttle, let go the brake and she’s off, wind back the cut- off to stop her slipping” “Just keep thy ‘ead down when we pass the cabin”!
By the forth day he let me bring it down the hill again, regulator closed, gently touching the hissing vacuum brake. He wouldn’t let me fire it though, “that’s this big lad’s job, he said, mine is easy”
That was B1 61307. I reckon I could still drive a steam engine today given the chance.
Then it was on to Leeds, there is unbelievably no direct bus service from Bradford to Harrogate. First run a ten minute interval X6 via the main road to Leeds and from there Transdev, an every twenty minute service to Harrogate.
By four o’clock I had had “a grand day out” as they say in these parts. It was time to catch the 36 back to a good meal and a couple pints and reflect on a misspent youth.