My interest in buses grew up out of happy associations. It began as a child growing up in North-West London in the 1950's. As neither of my parents were Londoners, a visit to grandparents meant a journey to either Portsmouth on the south coast, or to Merthyr Tydfil in South Wales.
|I chose this bus to liven up the page because we have several things in common; we are both the product of England in the 1950's, when you read this we'll both be living abroad, and finally, we both have a round, red nose. That's where the likeness ends I'm afraid. DES120 is in fact a 1950 Austin CXB with a Mann Egerton 29 seat body (thanks to Dick Gilbert at "Classic Buses" for the right information). It is powered by a 3.5 litre petrol engine and was originally owned by Gourlay, of Alyth in Scotland. It is seen here in the livery of a Scottish operator, Great & Adam in August 1999 in a shopping-centre car park in North Shields, England. It was on it's way to Belgium, bought by a company which uses old British buses for weddings and the like. I'm sure it will be well looked after! "Oh! What an old bus!" was the comment when my wife saw it. I didn't have the heart to tell her that it wasn't as old as she was!|
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As the family did not own a car until 1960, the usual means of transport was a coach.
Southdown to Portsmouth, Black & White or Red & White to Wales.
There were no motorways and journeys were long. Progress was measured by the colour of the
buses I saw on the way. One town was much like another, but the buses were unique. It was
the buses more than any other single thing which stirred memories of earlier visits. The
colours, the sounds, and even the smells set their mark.
These trips were among the highlights of my year. Second only to Christmas. Unlike many
other children, I was never plagued by travel sickness which could turn a coach journey
into a nightmare for those concerned. For me it was pure enjoyment.
One of the most memorable places from that time was Cheltenham, a small town in the west of England, but its coach station is one of the major crossroads of the long-distance coach system. If we had travelled from London in a Black & White coach, we would have to change at Cheltenham onto a Red & White for the onward journey to Wales. I always enjoyed the journey, but it was a relief to be able to get off the coach and stretch my legs. Then it was straight to the cafeteria to get a glass of orange juice and look out at the mass of people and coaches and soak up the atmosphere of the coach station. The view was a blaze of colour. It would be over 10 years before the NBC white would start appearing. Among my favourite liveries was the cream and blue of the Royal Blue
coaches, they never seemed to get dirty or lose their deep gloss, whatever the weather. After the refreshments and a trip to the loo it was back to the coach to prepare for that daily ritual in Cheltenham, the swarming of the coaches. The afternoon peace would suddenly be broken as the entire contents of the coach station was spewed out onto Cheltenham's streets, for a time choking everything, until, as with swarming ants, the coaches slowly dispersed and normality returned, until the next day.
|I have a couple of things in common with this bus as well. Firstly, we're both Londoners, and secondly, we're both in Norway. It was on an RT (AEC Regent Mk.III) that I learned to drive a bus. I drove them in service on route 187 (South Harrow to Hampstead Heath), route 140 (Heathrow Airport to Mill Hill), and route 301 (Aylesbury to Watford), as well as numerous other routes as a spare vehicle. This example is RT 792. It was used by the Park Hotel in Haugesund as a courtesy vehicle. Its present owner is Rolf Wee who has a private motor museum at Flakkagjerd, near Haugesund. He bought it with the intention of restoring and preserving it, something he has done with numerous cars and trucks. But when he got under the skin of this RT, he found that it was so badly rusted that restoration was impractical. Its future is now uncertain.|
My brother, who is 3 years older than I am, was for a time an ardent bus enthusiast. We would go out together on a Saturday and wander to the four corners of London and beyond with a Red Rover ticket. We would each have our lunch pack, note pad and Ian Allen fleet book, and go in search of such rarities as Leyland Tigers and Guy Vixens. I remember waiting, what seemed to be an eternity, outside numerous bus garages while my brother sneaked in to note down the numbers of the 'dead' buses hidden at the back. Sometimes I doubted that he would ever come out again. My interest in buses continued until my mid-teens when other distractions took hold. But I still remember as a 16 year old schoolboy in 1968, standing in the bus queue outside Finchley Road Underground station in Hampstead, north-west London, watching the coaches streaming by, and my thoughts going back to those coach journeys to Wales.
|Many thanks to Alan George and Geoff Matsell (Old Merthyr Tydfil) for this picture. The location I can only guess at, but I believe it to be on one of the moors of south-west England, possibly taken in the 1950's. The picture invokes for me the days before mass car ownership, when road travel was a pleasure and an adventure. Coach travel brought people together socially, sharing experiences, unlike car travel which isolates people, locked away in their tiny steel capsules. Coach travel encouraged camaraderie amongst people. Car travel on todays overcrowded roads encourages rivalry and even hostility. Affection for old buses is not just affection for the design and mechanics, but also of the fellowship and sense of service buses generated during the golden age of bus travel.
In 1973 I started bus-driver training at the London Transport driving school, Chiswick. This was the start of a very varied 6 years of driving buses and coaches. I worked at Alperton, Holloway and Harrow Weald garages with London Transport, and a spell at Tring garage with London Country. I also had a year driving for a private coach company near Northampton. I look back on those years as among the best in my life. In 1979 I joined the police, working in London until 1991, when marriage caused a move to Stavanger, Norway, where I am now living.
It was in 1997 when I took my first trip out into Cyberspace. I soon discovered the abundance of bus websites, not only in the UK but around the world, and I was surprised at what I saw. The UK bus industry had changed out of all recognition since I was living there. Routes and buses changing hands, companies changing hands, it all seems very exciting from a bus enthusiast's point of view. I just hope it's not too exciting for the people working in the industry. One bit of continuity though, unreliable services due to vehicle breakdowns and staff shortages. Some things never change. Another surprise was the huge number of Dennis buses now in service. Although of course, one of the major actors on the British bus manufacturing scene since the earliest days, they had been overshadowed by the likes of Leyland, AEC and Bristol in the post-war years, but as the bus industry entered its new age, it was Dennis that had the product the industry demanded. It was Dennis that was still building buses!
The Beginnings of this Website.
Many firms in Norway have 'loaned' their employees a 'home computer' on very reasonable terms. The idea behind this is that if the employee uses a computer at home, his/her computer skills will improve, and so become a more productive employee when at work. Because of this educational slant, the employee receives tax relief on anything he/she must pay for the machine. For me, the offer seemed too good to refuse, but what could I use the thing for? A glorified type-writer was the first thought, then there was home banking
which was very convenient, and there was e-mail to friends and relatives abroad. Then I saw that scanners were no longer so very expensive. Yes, I could mess around with pictures. Despite the doubts, I ordered the computer. It was delivered late one evening to my wife's shock and horror. Computer equipment always looks so much bigger when it's packed up in boxes.
|I am a member of the Rutebilhistorisk Forening, which is a nationwide group of people with an interest in the preservation of Norway's road passenger transport heritage. My local section in Rogaland county, used one of their preserved vehicles, L-9500, a 1963 Volvo/Repstad (pictured above) as transport for one of our recent get togethers.|
|Since moving to Norway fishing has become my main relaxation. Luckily my wife also enjoys fishing, so getting out on the fjord in our old 25ft. wooden fishing boat is something we both look forward to. It is moored about 10 minutes walk from our house.
It was while I was reading a computer magazine that I came across HTML. I was fascinated.
It wasn't long before I had downloaded a 200 page instruction manual from the Internet, and 6
days later the framework of this website was in place. The choice of theme for the site was
never in doubt. The rest you can see for
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