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.......preserving our commercial road transport history for the education and enjoyment of present and future generations..........
  WEB NEWS 66  

In this issue of WHOTT Web News we take a brief at the Trust Archives and Bristol ECW.

  Trust Archives - Earlier this year WHOTT was fortunate to have donated a very long run of The Commercial Motor magazine, some 1600 copies filling gaps in our existing collection. This title started about 1905 and apart from a few production failures, has been a weekly magazine ever since. Our earliest copies date from 1917 and the latest as recent as 1994. Such a wide span of years, keeping tabs on the commercial transport industry and its developments on a very frequent basis, meant that this magazine was very likely to provide news of what was happening at the time, but they were not alone in achieving this.

Today there is an abundance of glossy magazines available, usually on a monthly basis, on all aspects of commercial transport history and WHOTT has sizeable runs of most of these titles in its archive. The task of cataloguing the recent Commercial Motor magazines took several months and we thought that now was a good a time as any to provide some examples of what can be found by taking a look at our indexes.

Over the years magazine titles have come and gone, some merging with others and a few simply ceasing altogether. The titles that have remained the same have occasionally passed through different publishing houses, one of the more recent examples being that of Buses magazine which was started in 1949 by Ian Allan as Buses Illustrated and shortened its name as long ago as 1968. For many years Ian Allan continued to produce this popular magazine for the discerning enthusiast, but in 2012 sold it to Key Publishing. No matter who has published what, it is safe to assume that our archive has access to most events covered by one or more titles from about 1890 to the present day. In some cases we do not hold full original copies but do have a separate collection of photocopied material from magazines that had articles relating to the west country or of any vehicle manufacturer that supplied buses, coaches and lorries to operators across this region. One of the finest sources in this respect has been copies of Tramway & Railway World, an extremely comprehensive reporting media not only for tram and light railway systems, but also the emerging petrol engine competitor. This magazine, produced on fine quality art paper to obtain the best quality illustrations, commenced in 1890 when very few mechanically driven buses were around. By 1905 a few pages were devoted to Motor Traffic, later branded Omnibus Section, as this new intruder began to make an impression. As years rolled by, the magazine had to adjust to its reporting, and the Omnibus Section grew in size as the Tramway content began to evaporate with the decline of the smaller tram systems. This one magazine has produced some fascinating articles and illustrations over the years and WHOTT holds copies of everything and anything from it pertaining to the westcountry, though none of the original magazines themselves which were, incidentally, a weekly paper that could be bound into two large volumes per year.

Another early title was Motor Traction, of which we hold copies covering 1905 – 1912 and Transport World occupies our shelves from 1934 to 1956. The Bus & Coach magazine started about 1930 and we hold photocopied extracts from all prewar editions that have passenger chassis reviews with magnificent exploded drawings by technical draughtsman who excelled in a depth of detail right down to the last nut and bolt. Postwar we have full editions of this title up to 1970. Our library also contains bound copies of Modern Transport for the years 1941 – 1944, a period mainly devoted to the war effort, but having these does help to reinforce a continuous run of The Commercial Motor that we now enjoy from 1943 to 1994, plus other copies going back to 1917. Another prewar title in the WHOTT collection is Trolleybus Magazine, covering the years 1934 to 1958.

Postwar titles include Modern Tramway covering the years 1944 to 1990, the AEC Southall Gazette 1946 – 1965, Motor Transport from 1952 to 1985, Transport Journal from 1958 to 1965, Tramway Review from 1950 to 1960. Passenger Transport, which was donated by one of the Trustees, covers the years 1962 to 1968, though it existed many years earlier than this and is one title we would hope to have more on our shelves one day.

So far we have described what may be termed industry led magazines. In addition to this there are staff magazines, trade magazines, plus those specifically aimed at the enthusiast, some of which thrive on nostalgia. Breaking this down we have the Devon General staff magazine 1947 – 1970, Stagecoach, a house magazine for the Western National group of companies during the ‘seventies and ‘eighties, some copies of Bristol Omnibus Company’s staff magazine and the Bristol Commercial Vehicles house magazine, simply called BRISTOL. Magazines aimed at the trade, but which also contain interesting articles as well as vehicle sales, are Bus & Coach Buyer 1990 -2015, Coach & Bus Weekly 1992 – 2015, British Bus News 1990 – 1998, Platform 2001 – 2007, Coaching Journal & Bus Review 1975 – 1989, Route One 2004 – 2012, Bus & Coach Professional 1998 – 2012, Minibus 1987 - 2002 and Coachmart 1982 – 1992. Popular titles adorn our shelves for the enthusiast. These can be summarised as AEC Society Gazette 1985 – 2016, Bus & Coach Preservation 1998 – 2015, Buses Annual 1969 – 1988, Buses Extra 1978 – 1992, Buses Focus 1994 – 2007, Classic & Vintage Commercial 1995 – 2011, Classic Bus 1992 – 2016, Classic Bus Year Book 2000 – 2006, Classic Van & Pickup 2000 – 2006, Heritage Commercial 2002 – 2011, Historic Commercial News 1975 – 1981 and 1986 – 2014, Leyland Torque 1998 – 2011, Model Buses 1987 – 2001, Old Glory 1988 – 2014, Omnibus Society Magazine 1953 – 2012, Preserved Bus 1998 – 2001, Vintage Roadscene 1983 – 2011, Vintage Commercial 1983 - 2001 and Vintage Spirit 2002 – 2005.
Front cover design of the same magazine dated November 1962. Every bus enthusiast will be familiar with Buses magazine, a title adopted in 1968 in succession to Buses Illustrated that many of our older readers will recall. WHOTT has a complete run of these titles, and this is the cover of issue 11 dated July 1952 when the size was little more than A5 and the content aimed at the enthusiast rather than the bus professional. A long run of Modern Tramway magazine covering 1944- 1990 provides much information on systems that have been reintroduced in more recent times. Though none are westcountry based, there has been much speculation, so always an interesting read.
  If you want to read the full story, and see all the pictures, then become a member and  receive the quarterly newsletter.  

The Bristol ECW interims of the West Country - Part 2 - In this part John Grigg looks at the Bristol Tramways and Carriage Company’s double deck ‘Interims’ their histories, modifications and their allocations. In the next instalment he will cover the double deck ‘Interims’ of Hants & Dorset, Southern National, Western National and Wilts & Dorset, as well as the solitary LSX of Bristol, which is still a favourite on the rally scene. Finally he will look at the single deck Queen Mary ‘Interim’ coaches of both Bristol and Hants & Dorset.

During late December 1950 and the first few months of 1951, Bristol and Eastern Coach Works built some 56 double deck buses, 31 single deck buses and 42 single deck coaches, 129 in total, which ostensibly consisted of 8 feet wide bodies on 7’6” chassis. Of that number, 33 of the double decks and 12 of the coaches came to ‘West Country’ Tilling group operators, Bristol, Hants & Dorset, Southern National, Western National and Wilts & Dorset, but all the single deck buses went with the remainder of the double-decks and the coaches to other Tilling group companies elsewhere in the country.
Bristol’s operational area covered a large section of the West Country, spreading from Evesham in the South Midlands to Bridgwater in Somerset and in the east as far as Swindon. Under the Bristol banner there were a number of joint operational agreements with either separate companies or joint venture agreements with local authorities, and in the City of Bath there were two companies, one of which operated buses on what had previously been the City’s tram routes and the other that operated both newer bus routes within the city and an extensive rural service. A large part of Bristol’s area lay outside the four counties of Cornwall, Devon, Somerset and Dorset. In this article it would be impossible to cover particular vehicles that only operated within those counties, when at times they operated further afield. For the purposes of this exercise, Gloucestershire and Wiltshire become part of the wider ‘West Country’, as indeed does Hampshire, a matter that WHOTT has to consider when one company’s territory extends beyond its normal boundary.

BTCC took delivery of a batch of 18 Highbridge double decks between 22nd December 1950 and 6th April 1951. They were numbered 8008 to 8025 inclusive in the BTCC fleet. The first seven (8008-8014) and the final five (8021-8025) were all delivered to the BTCC Country Services fleet, and in their early years at least, most operated on some of the longest distance Country Services routes including the 29, Bristol to Cheltenham and the 31, Bristol to Swindon.

The remaining six, (8015-8020) went to Bath as part of, in the case of 8015, the Bath Electric Tramways Limited fleet (BET), and in the case of 8016-8020, the Bath Tramways Motor Company Limited fleet (BTM). That there were two Bath Companies used to cause me some confusion, particularly as the fleet name logo on the sides of the buses of both fleets stated ‘Bath Services’, but I understand that BET operated what had been the former Tramway routes within the city, and BTM operated all the “Country” services as well as the non-tramway routes within the city. However, it was apparently quite common to find one company’s buses operating on the other company’s routes.

To add to the confusion BTCC also allocated some of their Country Services vehicles to Bath depot to operate the 33 service from Bath to Bristol. Unlike the situation today, this was operated from both ends of the route, from Bath and Brislington depots, but only by BTCC, the Bath Companies not being involved whatsoever.
The first pair of BTCC’s ‘Interim’ KS6Bs, 8008-9 were initially allocated to Bath to operate on the 33 service, remaining there for some nine years, and 8011 was later to spend some time there as well.

Many of the batch ended their days in Bristol working on Joint Services routes (the services within the city were operated under a joint services agreement with Bristol City Council), and from joint services depots, although remaining, legally at least, as Country Services buses.
Fleet No 8010 (NAE42) during its time in Weston super Mare, operating a local service to Worle, just off the A370. It was a cold day as evidenced by the radiator muff being fully extended. The modifications to the destination gear and quarter width lower saloon window have already been undertaken. The inset of the rear axle is particular clear in this view.   In 1955, BT&CC introduced a reduced height single piece destination aperture and blind (36” x 12”) on new LD and LS deliveries and many older vehicles subsequently had their original destinations panelled down, in order to conform with the new standard. A handful of the KS Interims received this modification as illustrated by 8024, seen here on a Bath City route and whilst allocated to the Reserve Fleet.


Photographs of Southern National and Western National vehicles, premises, etc

Exeter Miscellany

Future Activities



John Lacey’s preserved Mercedes 709D/Marshall 21-seat dual-door midibus, one of a large batch delivered in May 1995, this one branded for the K service. It is seen here at The Quay in Exeter on the 19th March running day.

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