Home Organisation Contact Us Shop Archives Vehicle Collection


Running Day

Whott's New Whott's Happened Become a Member Press Releases Web News Members' Area Links Events & Activities

.......preserving our commercial road transport history for the education and enjoyment of present and future generations..........
  WEB NEWS 67-68  

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

  On Time - When member John Cole joined WHOTT in 2000 he was questioned about his particular interest. Without hesitation he replied ‘timetables!’ Here he pays tribute to the help the archive has given in filling gaps.

Bus travel had me ‘hooked’ from very early childhood days. Where did they go, how often did they run, and equally important, how much did it cost to ride? My very first timetable was found in a Plymouth second-hand shop in the fifties, and I still have it. This 1946 Brendon’s ABC Rail and Bus Guide covered Plymouth and the Western counties and ferry services could also be found in this rather sweeping publication. More than 75% of the booklet was devoted to rail and the bus content was all the Plymouth Corporation services, plus the ones that Western National, Southern National and Devon General worked into the city. It also included the independent services run by Heybrook Bay Motor Services from Torpoint, Saltash and Down Thomas.

Looking for something a bit more meaningful I found the very thing about a year later – the Western National timetable for South Devon & East Cornwall. Just how many happy hours I spent pouring over this I shudder to think, though fortunately school work didn’t suffer. Complicated trips were planned right, left and centre, though only a fraction of them carried out, whilst I looked with awe at the other five areas the company covered that were listed inside the front cover. Sadly I didn’t have the gumption to visit Western National’s Whimple Street office in Plymouth to see if they were available there. Perhaps the sum of 2/6d (roughly 13p) for the lot was beyond my pocket then. Regrettably I was not in the collecting mode in those days and even some of the local examples I had have long since gone.

After my grandfather died in 1959 there was a large turn out of his vast collection of books and papers, and to my amazement I came across a 1927 Devon Motor Transport timetable. There was also a 1937 Somerset & Dorset Southern National timetable, reflecting the fact that my grandparents often took summer holidays in Weymouth. To me this publication was far more attractive than the DMT one which, incidentally, is now in the WHOTT archive. Not holding out much hope of success I advertised for old Western National and Southern National timetables in Buses Illustrated and had just one reply. To my complete amazement I received Western National timetables in good condition for all four of their areas dated 1948 or 1949. The covering letter from someone in Kent asked for no money so I sent £5, which pleased the sender, who said it would go to a worthy preservation project. The only item lacking from the two covering Cornwall was the fold-out route maps. These, together with pages from the Southern National timetables for the same period, were obtained much later as photocopies from the WHOTT archive.

Following this came another very exciting discovery from a similar ‘turn out’ exercise. Minus its back cover I now had a winter 1937/8 Western National timetable for South Devon & East Cornwall. This little gem had a major surprise for me in that the single-deck bus bursting through the map of the westcountry was not a Bristol H, J or L which I’d always associated with Western National, but what appeared to be a Leyland Lion or Tiger which, to me at least, had unusual bodywork. There was also a 1950 Devon General timetable with what looks like a Leyland PS2 on the front cover, drawn with a little artistic licence.
Lack of Southern National timetables irked me but it was WHOTT that came to the rescue, and in particular my good friend, Philip Darch, who has been assisting in the archive for all of seventeen years. Phil and I first met in the sixties at West Bromwich where we both worked for the Ordnance Survey. It quickly became obvious that we shared the same interest in our native westcountry buses and coaches and have been firm friends ever since. Having now established that so much was available in the archive I asked if it was feasible to copy the late ‘forties or early ‘fifties Southern National timetables for North Devon & North Cornwall, and for the Somerset & Dorset area of the same company. I didn’t need the many pages of rules and regulations that each timetable carried, though I was later to regret not asking for the parcel agents as well. That said, at long last I had the two in the shape of 1950 and 1954 versions.

Phil and I usually met in Plymouth once a year and eventually the archive (then located at Estover) became our rendezvous point. With so much of interest to look at usually meant leaving poor Phil to his cataloguing work while I browsed through the lists of timetables held and did some of the copying myself. I found that with the earlier and smaller format timetables I could fit four pages to one sheet of A4, which saved time. After all, I was only after times, fares and parcel agents and the route map was treated separately. In my haste to complete the job I was a bit careless and Bob Crawley later neatly repaired a slight tear in the paper of one of them. I now had good examples of the Western National timetables for Gloucestershire & Wiltshire and Somerset & East Devon, plus a few missing pages from the others. I was charged a very fair price for the A4 sheets of paper used.

Being a bit greedy and having a better eye for what was available, I looked further afield and, in three cases, back in time. As a result I now have copies of Southern National’s Devon & Cornwall area for 1930 (cover price 1d) and the much larger Cornwall & West Devon Western National one for April 1930 (cover price 2d). For good measure I couldn’t resist a July 1933 Devon General example as well. Phil confirmed that there was an earlier than 1954 Somerset & Dorset timetable in the archive so I settled for one dated May 1943 at the height of World War Two. Of particular interest were services 401 – 405, replacing Royal Blue routes that had been temporarily suspended. The 405 survived the war to become the twice-daily service 248 Joint SN / WN service between Bournemouth and Trowbridge. More about this service can be read in WHOTT’s NEWS 28 (Green Linnet) and issue 56 (More on the 248).

Going back to where it all started I regretted not asking WHOTT for a photocopy of a DMT timetable front cover of the 1927 period. It was only after looking at The Years Between – Vol One, that a coloured version of it appears in the closing pages. What about my home town? In WHOTT’s NEWS 5 I penned my recollections under the title Joy Riding In Plymouth and have since acquired a 1938 City of Plymouth timetable and route map leaflet.

  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 - Having looked at the highbridge Bristol ECW Interim double-decks of Bristol Tramways & Carriage Company, in its Country services fleets, as well as those operated by its subsidiary companies Bath Electric Tramways Company Limited and Bath Tramways Motor Company Limited (in WHOTT’s News 66), we now turn to the rest of the South West and look at ‘The Interims’ of the Hants & Dorset, Southern National, Western National and Wilts & Dorset fleets.

Hants & Dorset Motor Services always had what could be described as a very tenuous relationship with the County of Dorset. Until the various reorganisations of the latter half of the twentieth century, both administrative in nature and those relating to transportation, Hants & Dorset’s services were in the main centred on the County of Hampshire with principal depots in Southampton, Winchester, Lymington, Fareham, Gosport and Bournemouth, all of which are in Hampshire, and Poole, which was its only centre just across the border in Dorset. Following the 1974 local government re-organisation Bournemouth was logically joined with Poole as part of Dorset. The transfer of these two administrative boroughs into the new and enlarged county of Dorset, started to give greater credibility to ‘Dorset’ appearing in the bus company’s title. That credibility was further improved by the transfer of the Swanage area of Western National’s territory to Hants & Dorset at approximately the same time. It should be remembered of course that until November 1969, Swanage operations had been in the hands of the former Southern National Omnibus Company, which had ceased to exist at that date.

The two largest conurbations within Hants & Dorset’s operating area were without doubt Southampton and Bournemouth, notwithstanding that both also accommodated municipal bus operators controlled by the respective local councils, and it was within this context that Hants & Dorset had taken delivery of many new Bristol K and KS double-decks in the first six or seven years following the end of the second world war, including within 1950 alone some 27 lowbridge K types and 11 KS types. Then early in 1951, they received their first eight feet wide bodied vehicles which each had an ECW lowbridge body on a 7ft 6in Bristol KS double deck chassis. These six buses were given fleet numbers 1279 to1284, and respectively registered KEL 722-727. All were Bristol AVW engined, and all were fitted with the home made but very distinctive sunshield above the driver’s window following delivery. As will be seen later, their delivery dates were quite close to those of the latter portion of the BTCC highbridge batch.

The first five of these wide bodied KSs were delivered within a strikingly short period of only four days early in February 1951, with the sixth and final delivery arriving exactly one week later. All six were immediately allocated to Southampton depot, and some brief details of individual vehicles including their allocations, modification and disposal details are given below.

Registration Number KEL722 Fleet Number 1279
Bristol Chassis Number 82.058. ECW Body Number 4335
Seating Capacity L27/28R Delivered 6th February 1951

1279 entered service when new from Southampton depot, where it remained for over fifteen years until sent west to Bournemouth in September 1966. Southampton’s all day rosters at that time included services 19/20 (Southampton – Lymington – Bournemouth) and 37 which was the joint (with Wilts & Dorset) service to Salisbury. In the early years, at least, these workings would have been common with later KSWs, although Lodekkas eventually took over the major rosters, but nevertheless 1279 and the remainder of the class were still gainfully employed on all day service on shorter medium distance routes and works contracts for many years.

In September 1962 under-seat heaters were fitted to 1279 by Hants & Dorset themselves at approximately the same time as flashing direction indicators were fitted, and the rear nearside quarter panel was glazed in January 1966. In September 1966, 1279 was re-allocated to Bournemouth where it remained for almost a year until moving back east to Eastleigh in August 1967, and then just over two years later in November 1969, it went back to its original depot in Southampton, from where it was withdrawn and sold to Winlon Motors of Kew in October 1971. I have no further record of it from that date.

Registration Number KEL723. Fleet Number 1280
Bristol Chassis Number 82.059 ECW Body Number 4336
Seating Capacity L27/28R Delivered 6th February 1951

The article also looks at Southern National, Western National, Wilts & Dorset & Bristol Tramways.

Both shots of 1282 (KEL 725) were taken on 5 April 1969. The bus was parked at Southampton depot earlier in the afternoon where the rear shot clearly reveals the narrower axle. Later it came out for a peak journey on the 35 and is seen leaving the bus station.


Photograph archive management

What sparked your interest in WHOTT?

Exeter Bus Station

Archives Sources - 2

Obituary - Harold Davies Blundred





Dorchester - The longest vehicle on parade was Stuart Andrews’ 12m AEC Reliance WDK562T. This Plaxton Supreme bodied example was one of the last purchased by the Rochdale based company, Yelloways, which ran regular scheduled journeys to Torbay.


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 66

Web News Index    

© Copyright The West Country Historic Omnibus & Transport Trust
Registered in England Company No. 3780463. Registered Charity No. 1079795