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  WEB NEWS 38  

In this issue of WHOTT Web News we take a brief look at buses on the water, Frank Tucker and an archive update.

  Buses on the Water  - The landscape on the south coast of the West Country is dominated by a number of rias or drowned river valleys. A ria is formed where sea levels rise relative to the land. The result is often a very large estuary at the mouth of a relatively insignificant river. The Kingsbridge estuary is an extreme example as no significant river flows into it, only a small number of streams. Invariably the easiest and most cost effective way to cross these drowned river valleys is by ferry. Starting in the west, the first of these is the ‘King Harry Ferry’ established in 1888. It connects St Mawes and the Roseland peninsula with Feock, Truro and Falmouth as part of the B3289. The ferry is owned and operated by the King Harry Steam Ferry Company Ltd. The current chain ferry No. 7 was built in 2006 and can carry up to 34 cars. The King Harry no longer features in any bus timetable, though it did in past. The ‘Star’ operated by William Sawle of Portscatho ran to Truro on Wednesday and Saturday using the steam ferry however this service had ceased by 1931. A bus service returned to the King Harry Ferry in 1935 when Western National started a new once-daily service 146, Truro – St Mawes, departing St Mawes at 09.15am and returning from Truro at 5.30pm. However this proved short-lived with service 146 being diverted via Tregony Bridge in 1940, perhaps not surprisingly given the outbreak of the Second World War. Once peace returned the diversion remained in place leaving the King Harry ferry without a bus service.. If you want to read the full story, and see all the pictures, then become a member and  receive the quarterly newsletter.  
Western National Bristol Lodekka 1893 (TUO487) disembarking at the Devonport side on 7th February 1960, well before the days of the Ferrybus operation. During the winter of 1960 the Royal Albert Bridge needed repair work and the railway line between Plymouth and St Germans was closed for six consecutive Sundays. In an early example of rail replacement four Western National Lodekkas were used with a British Railways lorry being used for the heavy luggage. [Copyright R W Skinner]   The discovery of this view in a recent accession to the archive became the inspiration for this.
  Archive update - As reported in our last issue the archive has received a lot of fresh material in recent months. Two separate accessions relate to weekly trade periodicals such as Coach & Bus Week and Bus & Coach Buyer. These, together with a substantial run of the Route One weekly magazine, cover the years 1990 to 2005, with hardly any duplication. Though much of the content may be regarded as recent history it is worth bearing in mind that these magazines will, in time, be important records of the continuing developments in the PSV industry. In contrast some much earlier Commercial Motor magazines from the ‘fifties arrived with a promise of more from that era to follow.- if you want to read the full story and find out why - then become a member and  receive the quarterly newsletter.  
  Frank Tucker of Exeter - The haulage company of Frank Tucker can be traced back to 1946 when a few exwar office Bedford lorries were obtained for the purpose of general hauling in the Exeter area. The first depot was in a yard off Sivell Place, Heavitree. Access to this was particularly narrow and much care was needed in getting lorries in and out. Sivell Place exited onto the slightly wider Church Street but here a sharp right or left hand turn had to be made at the last minute or else the back end of the lorry would hit buildings on either side. Keeping straight would have caused the lorry to end up in the wall of Heavitree Brewery. The original office was in the Tuckers’ house at South Lawn Terrace, close to the Shaul Bakery. Earliest vehicles recalled were square bonneted Bedford OYDs, some with local FJ registrations that had obviously replaced military ones, and others similarly  reregistered elsewhere. This type of Bedford had the horizontal bar across the front of the radiator, fixed in place by two upswept brackets from the dumb irons. Altogether very utility looking in appearance, they were worked hard during the late forties when a lot of site clearance was taking place following the ravages of war. Over 72,000 Bedford OY series were built during and after the war, many finding their way to existing and start-up haulage companies like Frank Tucker. The next generation of vehicle was the Bedford OSB, and slightly longer OLB, which seemed to be a little narrower in width, though this may have been an illusion due to its lower overall height. These were all locally registered and one, at least, lasted through to about 1964 when it was observed in the construction of the new Exeter bus station at Paris Street. Another of these was seen on the newly developing Broadfields estate in Exeter about 1958, taking on board earth from a jibbed bucket. The old lorry was already well laden and another load of earth came cascading down but this time it was all too much and the chassis bent, leaving the bonnet poking towards the sky. Tto see the complete set of details and illustrations then become a member and  receive the quarterly newsletter.  

Western National in Cornwall - further memories

Points of View

Were you there

A stay in Devon

Future Activities





A stay in Devon - Unfortunately the original illustration in the Tilling’s Staff magazine illustrating the stranded coach, probably a Leyland Lioness, with passengers disembarking before the Western National arrived is too faint for reproduction. Greenslades Tours JFJ179 illustrated the Malmsmead water splash in WHOTT’s News! 31, here is an alternative view featuring BYC675 a 1936 Scarlet Pimpernel Leyland Cub with Duple bodywork. The popularity of the location is readily apparent with another coach waiting to cross. [Andy Richings Collection]


Would you like to see the full magazine?  If so, please consider becoming a Member and we’ll send current year copies right away.  Alternatively individual back numbers can be purchased at £2 each by request.  Our Shop postal rates apply.


Web News 37

Web News Index

Web News 39


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