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  WEB NEWS 37  

In this issue of WHOTT Web News we take a brief look at memories of Radipole depot, West Country Non-PSV operators and Pang of Nostalgia.

  MEMORIES OF RADIPOLE DEPOT - Brian Thompson thumbs through his diaries -  When the friends of WHOTT were asked to name their favourite bus station, Weymouth, the mother depot for Southern National’s Somerset & Dorset Area, came flooding back in torrents. Not so much a terminus, Radipole became the  Company’s workshop following the destruction of Edward Street garage in a midday bombing raid on Monday 21st October 1940. Originally the home of Road Motors Ltd, when they came to Weymouth in the ’twenties, it would remain a hive of activity until 1956 when operations returned to the rebuilt town centre premises. My earliest memory of Radipole is a spring evening with my parents during the Second World War when we joined a family friend in business as a professional photographer. He had been instructed by the bus company to take pictures of Bedford WTB 3666 (AOD 873), presumably for a Government compensation claim involving enemy action. The evidence was clear to see, for this vehicle was full of bullet holes after being strafed with machine-gun fire by the German Luftwaffe in celebration of the Fuhrer’s 53rd birthday We were told the driver had been killed outright as he drove through Swanage on 20th April 1942. I remember the four of us went upstairs aboard Bristol K 244 (ETA989), parked immediately behind the Bedford, for a pilot’s-eye view of the damage! Still only five years old, with mother holding my hand, I had experienced an early baptism into the world of ‘omnibology’ – bus spotting. Unaware that the seed had been sown at such an impressionable age, is it any wonder that I was attracted to this place from that moment on? In fact it had the pulling power of a magnet, the catalyst for my mis-spent youth, and in years to come I would squander so much time at Radipole depot that it became my second home. First I would cycle there, parking my black Hercules opposite the garage – not realising at the time that this was the very spot where Weymouth’s first motor bus service began in 1905. Here I watched the arrivals and departures, totally fascinated by the great assortment of vehicles in use during those days. Many had been patched up during hostilities and were running on borrowed time, some still painted in wartime grey. Had I not been ambushed by a pesky jackdaw that insisted on pecking my front tyre whenever I appeared, I would have stayed longer!. If you want to read the full story, and see all the pictures, then become a member and  receive the quarterly newsletter.  
Bedford WTB 3666 as photographed at Radipole depot in 1942, sowing the seed for Brian’s lifelong hobby. [W H Cumming] Brian, aged 11, outside Radipole garage with Bristol K 359 in 1948. The car, a 1932 SS11, forerunner of the Jaguar belonged to his brother, Basil. [B E Thompson] A field near Winterbourne Abbas on 23rd April 1956. Leyland TD1 2854 has been towed here by Ford Canada JUO51, joining the remains of sister vehicle 2985. [B E Thompson]
  West Country Non-PSV operators of the 'sixties - In order to transport workers, school pupils, sportsmen etc. various organisations used to find it necessary to purchase buses or coaches, usually second-hand but sometimes new. As a result a fascinating selection of vehicles could be found performing this role throughout the West Country during the ‘sixties. The reason for providing staff transport could relate to location of the workplace or shift work involving unsocial hours, neither of which could be covered by conventional public transport services. Times have changed and nowadays workers usually make their own way to and from work or, in the case of site workers, may be transported by minibus. From memory, as teenage bus spotters in the early ‘sixties, we recall the following and no doubt readers will remember others. It was a fascinating scene and enabled some very interesting vehicles to enjoy an extended working life before departure to that great scrap yard in the sky!  - if you want to read the full story and find out why - then become a member and  receive the quarterly newsletter  
LOD538 – looking like a typical contractors vehicle is this Austin CXB of E.B.C. & Sleeman, Exeter. [Andy Richings Collection]   LTA766 – Seen in St.Austell on 7th December 1965 operating for G T Tetsill & Son Ltd of Newquay. [Copyright R W Skinner]
  Pang of Nostalgia. . . as Burt looks back. -  The predominant rural area of the west country, served largely by narrow country roads, presented with it certain challenges from a bus operators’ point of view. In places there was a distinct need to provide many services to outlying villages and communities, keeping them connected to the larger nearest town. Both Western and Southern National companies found that there was hardly a corner of their territory where this did not apply and for this reason it was necessary to purchase large numbers of small capacity vehicles. By the early ‘thirties the need to standardise on one particular make was all the more important since, following the acquisition of several smaller operators there was a motley assortment of vehicles due for replacement. In 1933 the Guildford factory of Dennis developed a very novel chassis designed specifically for small bus operation. Launched early the following year the Ace chassis was a successor to their GL and Dart models and could be purchased with or without Dennis bodywork. Dennis designed the chassis to accommodate a lightweight bus with small turning circle (just 40’6”) achieved mainly by its short wheelbase of 11’6”. The engine was positioned well forward of the front axle and the protruding bonnet, of snout-like appearance, made them affectionately known as “flying pigs”. Western National immediately placed an order for no fewer than 56 of these, all receiving 20-seat front entrance bodies by Eastern Counties of Lowestoft. The first twenty-six vehicles, 700–727 (OD7789–7814) arrived in March 1934 and were well received by drivers and the travelling public. Seating 20 with space for luggage inside and on the roof, they could easily be operated without a conductor. Southern National placed a similar order for four.  - to see the complete set of details and illustrations then become a member and  receive the quarterly newsletter.


Totnes vehicle 718 (OD7807) seen here towards the end of her career. Note that the advert boards have been discontinued and the livery much simplified, but still retaining its pig-like appearance. A handy little bus in the lanes of South Hams, it eventually became a caravan at Halwill Junction in June 1953. [R J Quarterman]


Another Goodbye - Wallace Arnold

Points of View

Exeter Tram discovered in cemetery!

Kingsbridge Running Day and WHOTT Rally

EFJ 92 - Its now official

Future Activities



Two splendid AEC Reliances, both carrying Harrington Grenadier bodies. John Mosedale entered former Hutchings & Cornelius CYD724C, new in 1965 and the 1964 model, former Hawkeys of Newquay 100VRL, was entered by Roger Thomas [K Pankhurst]



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Web News 36

Web News Index

Web News 38


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