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  WEB NEWS 54  

In this issue of WHOTT Web News we take a brief at Exeter (and Plymouth) in Gloucester & Travelling the Westcountry by bus.

  Exeter (and Plymouth) in Gloucester - WHOTT member 112, Geoffrey Hobbs, describes the after-life of some buses in Gloucester that had originated further west.

On Remembrance Sunday (10th November 2013) I attended the Exeter Twilight Running event which I considered to be very atmospheric and photogenic. I had succeeded in visiting this event in 2011 but did not travel on the vehicles, merely content to observe the passing scene. This time however in addition to photography I decided to sample some of the buses in motion.

My first foray was on former Exeter Corporation number 66, a Leyland TS8 of 1938, on the climb to the Top of Pennsylvania (route K). Here was a trip to a hitherto unknown part of the City and very attractive it is too. The climb up Pennsylvania Hill was a real tour de force for the gallant old lady. She is only one year younger than me and certainly I cannot climb a 1in7 hill like she did! After another trip on route A/F with a Bristol Lodekka I returned home and immediately re-read Colin Shears’ article in WHOTTs News 24 on the TS8s and their exploits on route K. It was references to other former Corporation vehicles that prompted the following reminiscences. Colin refers to AEC Regents, numbers 22 - 30 new in 1931, and to the Bristol GO5Gs, numbers 45 - 48 of 1935, together with an acquired Bristol demonstrator, fleet number 44. I was lucky enough to sample several of these vehicles in a later existence.

In 1946 BT&CC - Bristol Tramways and Carriage Company (to give its full title), decided it needed to augment its double deck complement allocated to the Country fleet, that is those not specifically allocated to City services in Bristol, Bath or Gloucester. Three groups of vehicles were purchased through the auspices of Western National viz:-
Several of these buses appeared in my home City of Gloucester. I recall passing the BT&CC Depot in London Road one day in 1946 and seeing what appeared to be a green and cream London ST in the doorway. How came this stranger to the camp? Close inspection revealed two such vehicles (3661 and 3662) seemingly identical with those I had seen on visits to the capital. Around the same time L3658 with its DR registration also appeared as did 3665 another FJ derivative. In those days information on buses was very sparse and it was only many years later when the PSV Circle produced their fleet history of the Bristol company that a better understanding of the early post war period could be appreciated.

One of the great fascinations with all the former Exeter vehicles was the use of straight staircases rising from what was a more spacious rear platform than those found on the contemporary Bristol G and K types with angled stairs. These new additions to the Gloucester allocation were largely used on the peak-hour workmen’ services to the various aircraft establishments in the Gloucester area. However, other members of the BFJ series did appear from time to time,
particularly on an evening short working of route 29 (Bristol - Cheltenham) to Gloucester only, which could usually be found on the depot forecourt around 7.30pm and which produced many a rare ‘cop’ from the depths of Lawrence Hill depot in Bristol.
3665 (BFJ157) seen in Cheltenham prior to being rebodied in November 1948. The original Bristol body with straight staircase, as specified by Exeter Corporation, can be clearly seen, but Exeter's route indicator box above the destination blind has been panelled over.   3666 (BFJ158) loading in Cheltenham sometime after being rebodied by Bristol in November 1948, at which time it also received the lower PV2 type radiator.
  If you want to read the full story, and see all the pictures, then become a member and  receive the quarterly newsletter.  
  Travelling the Westcountry by Bus - Sixty Years Apart -  Brian Thompson (Member 81) continues his trip around the westcountry by bus. Having reached the halfway point at Newquay, it is now across the Atlantic coast to Barnstaple.
Before setting off I needed to pay my respects to the former Western National premises in Newquay. There was once a two-tier garage in Tolcarne Road, backing onto another in the lower Tregoss Road that had been mainly used for storing coaches in winter. At Pargolla Road there was another garage and the bus terminus with office was in the centre of town at East Street. None of this is recognisable today. The view below, from the Calton Phoenix Collection, shows the Tolcarne Road garage as Stuart and I recalled it on our journey in 1953.

It was a Mercedes on loan from Arriva Leicester that carried me on Western Greyhound’s service 556 to Padstow on day seven of my journey. Carrying fleet number 1905 (YM55RRX), it left at 09.05 and I sat on the back seat where it was the misfortune to be joined by a man all of a dither, short of breath, panting and sweating profusely. The lady with him, presumably his wife with white poodle, rested her legs upon his lap (possibly to prevent him from falling) and so I had ten multi-coloured toe nails under my nose for the scenic drive along the north Cornwall coast. After leaving the bus at Padstow he very nearly did fall over while suffering some sort of fit, and had to be restrained by his anxious lady pulling a peeing pooch! Meanwhile the driver had to sort through a pile of window stickers to change the service number to 555. After a seven-minute break the same bus took me on to Wadebridge, even a small vehicle like this had to be reversed so that oncoming traffic could pass on those narrow roads. For the final leg from Wadebridge to Bude I was subjected to two hours of shake, rattle and roll aboard Western Greyhound’s Mercedes number 577 (WK04HSD), as this little runabout circled round every village, hamlet, house and tree on the 12.25 service 584. According to a mile post it had taken an hour and ten minutes to cover a more direct route of twelve miles, a sure indication of what a roundabout route this was. About half way, in Camelford, the driver stopped to change the service numbers again, this time winding up the digits from 584 to 595 on a canvas blind in the old fashioned way.

Arriva 1905, one of the many hired-in vehicles that Western Greyhound was using to cover the terrible fire losses they sustained earlier in the year. This took Brian from Newquay to Wadebridge before boarding their own Mercedes 577 to Bude. [B E Thompson]

At least he could do this standing up inside the bus without having to clamber over a hot radiator in days of yore. Now it was just me and two other passengers for the rest of the journey, none joining us in Tintagel or Boscastle as we patiently waited in silence at those places with the engine switched off.

In 1953 Southern National Bedford OB 519 took us from Newquay to Wadebridge, where we then joined Southern National Bristol LWL6B 1603 for the last ride of the day to St Teath. After that we had thumbed a lift to Tintagel and spent Sunday morning walking to Delabole where vehicles 624, 630, 639, 2970 and 3789 stood delicensed. Finally another kind motorist had given us a lift to Bude where we joined Southern National K5G 321 for the two-hour ride to Bideford, arriving in Barnstaple later that evening on Southern National Bristol K6B 970.
The former Bude garage, built in 1931 for Southern National at Lansdowne Road has, in later years, seen occupation by both Jennings and Hookways. It has recently been on the market again.   The former Southern National offices at 14 The Quay, Bideford still retains its clock but instead of buying a coach tour ticket to ride, nowadays one can only purchase a Chinese takeaway from these premises

Salisbury Bus Station closure event

Happy Birthday Colin - We salute you!

Archive update

Restoration update

Stuart Malcolm Andrews

Dates for your diary

Future Activities


When Stagecoach varied service 2 between Exeter and Newton Abbot, to avoid the narrow bridge at Cockwood, the stretch of road to Dawlish Warren lost its bus. Dawlish Coaches briefly introduced a Dawlish Warren shuttle service on a circular route back to Dawlish. Mercedes 709D (L193OVO) is seen in the summer of 2009 outside The Anchor Inn at Cockwood. The business of Dawlish Coaches is now but a memory.


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Web News 55


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