|WEB NEWS 52|
In this issue of WHOTT Web News we take a brief at A Force to be reckoned with and Travels with VR.
A force to be reckoned with - Part
Two - The summer of 1930
saw real efforts to improve better publicity of its services. The
industry was on the threshold of major changes with the introduction
of licensing and the installation of traffic commissioners to
regulate services. On 7th July both Cornish Buses and H B published
a joint timetable booklet with elaborate time and fare tables, with
a nice map across the centre pages. It followed very closely to the
style of the Western National timetable and also copied,
word-for-word, its rules. They even used the same printer – Bruce
Moore of Ilfracombe! The cover bore a new fleet name, BLUE LINE,
which had a neat and pleasing appearance and for the first time the
services were allocated numbers, though it was not easy to display
these on the actual buses. The vehicles carried CORNISH BUSES or
SOUTHERN GENERAL on their sides, on a white ground, with the BLUE
LINE name carried across the rear.
Two more new buses arrived in August, this time 20-seaters built on Willys Overland Crossley chassis. They were needed as replacements for two of the oldest vehicles acquired from other operators in 1929.
The next development came on 19th September 1930 when Clarence Mumford, William Modley and Frederick Wood  travel to London for talks with the Western National chiefs at their head office, 206 Brompton Road, which was above the underground station by that name. We are not entirely sure what was on the agenda but, for certain, they would have discussed the new legislation, recently enacted, whereby it would be compulsory for every bus and coach service to be licensed by the traffic commissioners. They would also licence every driver and conductor, all tours and excursions and become the examining body for all public service vehicles. This would supersede the somewhat archaic method of local licensing and hackney carriage inspections, a system that had never worked properly and was more befitting horse-drawn cabs. Because the Southern General services were joint with Western National and the whole business of applying for licences was something new, an agreed procedure had to be worked out.
Another important aspect of the new legislation was that, on the deadline date, which still had to be fixed by the Minister of Transport, all recognised and established omnibus services would automatically be granted a licence. Therefore, although Southern General had only been in business a short time, it was assured of ‘grandfather’s rights’ over the services it was working. As it would soon become virtually impossible for any new or existing omnibus owner to start a fresh service on an existing route, the possession of a licence became an asset with a value, whereas hitherto the goodwill attaching to an omnibus service was frequently cast in doubt. The Brompton Road meeting was also attended by Bert Smith, traffic manager for Western National, who intimated that Southern General could now proceed, subject to certain safeguards, with the purchase of two businesses in the St Austell area for which it had earlier sought permission in accordance with procedures laid down in the agreement. This had been withheld earlier on the grounds of being contrary to the approval of Western National, so it may now be seen that a closer relationship was in the air. The two businesses about to be acquired were those of Wherry of Mevagissey and Crowle’s Motor Service at St Dennis, both purchases being completed on 20th October.
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Travels with a VR
- I thought I knew everything that went on in Cornwall, but it was
only fairly recently that I became aware of the annual Helston –
Lizard Run every August Bank Holiday Sunday, and all was in place to
enter my Riley this year, as well as Stithians Traction Engine Rally
the previous weekend. Then rumours started to emerge of a second
Lizard Run the previous Saturday, the 110th anniversary of the first
Great Western Railway bus service, so I offered to represent WHOTT
and was allocated the newly-MoT’d VR 937 (VDV137S). She is restored
to NBC Devon General livery from when she served in Torquay, but
subsequently operated in Newquay so made an appropriate and
The logistics of these events take a lot of sweat, almost tears and occasionally blood, but fortunately 937 attended the Plymouth Rally in July and the local group had kindly provided parking to avoid the long drag to Knowstone and back. It was therefore on Friday 16th that Nick Craig picked me up at North Road Station and took me to meet Paul Furse. Unfortunately, 937 had gravitated to the back of the shed, so we had to move several Darts and Citybuses first; I had never driven anything post-1972 but Nick and Paul seemed unfazed by the cacophony of buzzers, sirens and flashing dash-panels and soon Dennises and Volvos were flying in all directions. There was an anxious moment when the last Volvo failed to start, but a fast charge and a cup of Rosy Lee did the trick.
Nick had sensibly disconnected the batteries, so 937 started after her three-week slumber on the button and with impressively little smoke. Once all the Plymouth vehicles were back in their shed, Nick showed me the checks to do on a VR and I jerked and zigzagged my way around the site as I got used to the delayed-action throttle and the no-feel steering. But the brakes were amazing. By the time I hit the public highway, 937 was beginning to feel like an old friend, but almost immediately I pulled in to Forder Valley Texaco where I saw my bank balance depleting as fast as the pump dials turned.
Eschewing the Devon Expressway, it was straight up to Crownhill and over the Bridge.
The A38 to Liskeard was familiar and a friendly lorry driver held up the oncoming traffic while I took the centre of the arch at Trerulefoot. I had seen the Dobwalls Bypass from the train but hadn’t appreciated its civil engineering complexity so, after circumnavigating the new roundabout to get my bearings, I plunged down the Glyn Valley. The problem with a modern vehicle is that you can see the traffic building up in your centre mirror, so I stopped at the Halfway House to let the speed-merchants pass. This brought back memories of Truro Schoolboys’ drunken bar billiards matches there after bell-ringing practice at St Neot. A National Express driver overtook several times with a friendly toot; every time he went into a town, I went round the bypass and got in front again.
The sun came out at Bodmin and it was a glorious afternoon bowling across Goss Moor at about 40 mph, but I began to drip in the VR greenhouse and decided to take the old Royal Blue route through Brighton where Cornwall Commercials still have some historic recovery vehicles. I was agape to see how this former trunk road, still officially the A39, had become no more than a country lane, not signposted and not even shown on some modern maps. But at least there was no other traffic. Entering Truro, I spotted Colin Billington’s 1927 GWR Guy 1268 (YF714) parked discretely in a corner, so I locked up 937 and walked home for some well-earned croust.
Just the Ticket - 22
Travelling the Westcountry by bus - Sixty years apart
Making a special journey to Devon from its home in Yorkshire is Duple bodied AEC Regal LTA 629 seen here at Dartmouth, sandwiched between Willowbrook bodied AEC Reliance 960 HTT and Harrington bodied AEC Reliance 1 RD.
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