This is where it all started

This photo brings back so many memories for me. All through my childhood, while staying with my grandparents in the summer holidays, I travelled into town on Lodekkas, including this one. Consequently it represents my favourite half-cab bus of all time. It belonged to Wilts & Dorset and is pictured (by me, in 1973) approaching the bus stop outside the West End pub in Wilton Road, Salisbury. My grandparents’ house is just out of shot on the right and just at this moment, my pulse would be racing as I anticipated another journey, albeit ever so familiar. I can still hear my grandmother saying to the conductor after we’d found a seat, “two and one half to the Blue Boar Row, please”. And then that characteristic, metallic whirr as the conductor’s Setright machine spat out the requested tickets. I could never have guessed then that I would be doing his job 40 years later, on a Lodekka in service!

Bristol LD6B LMW 680 was looking rather battered by this time and would soon acquire a coat of NBC Poppy Red (yuk) instead. Many of the fleet had already lost their Wilts & Dorset fleet names, to be temporarily replaced by Hants & Dorset in the new National Bus Company (NBC) style. Gone too was the top cream band just under the upper deck windows. It seemed such an insignificant part of the livery to paint out when a new livery was going to be applied within a few months. Bristol LD6G UAM 941, pictured below at the back of Salisbury Bus Station, is wearing the aforementioned interim livery.

8 comments on “This is where it all started

  1. Owen Phillips says:

    I had a holiday with my family a couple of years ago, and I believe you conducted us on VDV 752 the LDL Lodekka on the 400. We also rode on Ipswich 65 one of Mr. Morris’ buses in an event with the WSR. I am an 18 year old bus enthusiast from Ipswich but I have been conducting (unofficially, of course…) for a couple or three years now, and I have great fun. I conduct for the Ipswich Transport museum mainly on their deckers, Ipswich 63 , very similar to 65, and also an Eastern Counties FL Lodekka which is unfortunately in Poppy red (for educational and representational purposes), also conducting a lowbridge Bristol K with the bristol engine. Aapart from all else it is the responsibility of looking after the passengers that I enjoy; as far as I am concerned with the driver in his cab the conductor is the captain of the ship. Mainly of course with museum work it is all shuttles and ciruclars, but twice a year we operate a service connecting three local venues and I really enjoy seeing people on and off the bus, acting as a walking talking timetable etc. I bought my hat this year for only £12, it was a new unused genuine london underground hat- I pulled all the trim off it and stuck an Eastern Counties badge on it and it looks like the real thing.

    Your blog is very interesting, as it is a very honest and acurate account of the joys of conducting. You have written it nicely too and it is a shame stories such as yours do not get published more often in the various magazines. best of luck with the PCV.


    • busmanjohn says:

      Thank you for your great comments, Owen! It’s really good to know that someone as young as you is captivated by the charms of buses from yesteryear. They’re quite different from modern buses, aren’t they!
      I’m pleased to think you remembered your trip with me on the 400. Come back again sometime and say hi! Like you, I really enjoy looking after my passengers. If I get to be a driver I plan to keep on conducting as well.
      You have a great museum there in Ipswich. I’ve followed the fortunes of your vehicles in the B&CP magazine and yes, I too prefer the pre-NBC livery but a museum must present all eras fairly if it has the option to do so.
      If you see a black cap with red trim in your travels, do let me know!

      • Owen Phillips says:

        My friend Mark Smith at the ITM organises our annual bus running day. This year is something of a special year for us local supporters of ‘our buses’, it being the 60th anniversary of motorbus operation by Ipswich Corporation and its successors, and I was delighted to be told that Mr. Morris has entered his bus, DPV 65 D for our event. It really is very good of him to bring it all the way from Somerset for a one day event, but he can be assured that he will be well looked after and we put on a good display of nearly 25 vehicles, most of which run in service fairly intensively from a forecourt of limited size; the highlight of our calendar. In previous years we have been able to secure accommodation on a short term basis for a few of our own vehicles down at Ipswich Buses, in order that our visitors can keep theirs under cover in our secure museum; I suspect this may be the order of the day again this year, but we will have to ask our friends first!

        65 is a lovely machine and it will be nice to see it reunited with 63 again; they were the very last rear entrance buses in service with Ipswich Buses in 1986. Of course we have the first, No.1 aka ADX1, and together with 24 and 16 which should also be visiting it will be quite a line up. If you should make the journey with him be sure to introduce yourself; I am sure to be about on the day from about 05:30 until 19:00…… Labour outweighs love sometimes but I look forward to this one all year!

      • busmanjohn says:

        Thanks for the info, Owen. What is the date of your running day?

  2. Brian says:

    Could have been me on the platform of that bus on Wilton Rd. I lived just off Wilton Rd and was a conductor until August 1973. If your Gran had asked me for tickets to Blue Boar Row I would have pointed out we didn’t go there!! The 261 went to Castle St and then up to Waters Rd.

    The numbers changed in the spring of 1973. Prior to that it was a 61 but they all had a prefix of a 2 to avoid duplication with Hants. and Dorset.
    Thanks the photo brings back great memories of my days in Salisbury. Hope to catch your bus one day as I have retired and live in North Devon.

    • busmanjohn says:

      Wow, that’s amazing! Thanks for your comment, Brian. You (and some of your colleagues) could have been partly responsible for me being a conductor today!
      Thank you too for correcting my memory. Perhaps we alighted somewhere along Fisherton Street but I do remember catching the bus back home from the Blue Boar Row but more usually the New Canal.
      I look forward to meeting you if you come over and ride on the service 400, it will certainly revive some old memories for you. We start running again in May. If you see me, make sure you introduce yourself!

  3. Derek Dawkins says:

    As Busman John’s Dad, I think I should put in a word here. I lived in Wilton Road, Salisbury, until I got married in 1955, and have heaps of happy memories of Wilts and Dorset buses, from before the war including all the vehicles bought in for the workmen, and then through the period of the postwar buildup of new buses. I was keen on collecting photos. I find that I have something over 300 of them, from newspaper cuttings, to collector’s items, plus a few of my own.
    Happy conducting, John, and best wishes with the driving!

  4. Owen Phillips says:

    The ITM bus running day this year is on Sunday October 3rd, from 10:30-16:30.

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