New page – driving a vintage bus

Several readers have pestered me / encouraged me to write an article on what it’s like to drive a vintage bus. This I have now done and the page “How to drive a vintage bus” can be accessed from the link at the top of the home page.

cab-view

It is not meant to be a comprehensive tutorial, just my personal impressions of driving buses from a bygone era. I hope you enjoy reading them!

Bus driver and conductor vacancies at Crosville

There are some seasonal heritage crew jobs being advertised at the moment by Crosville Motor Services. They need to recruit additional drivers for their private hire bookings which, if you are a regular reader of this blog, is the main reason for my own involvement with this firm.

As you know I drive for them occasionally and, if last year is anything to go by, there were heritage buses going out virtually every Saturday from March until December. On several summer Saturdays there were four out at a time!

Crosville-Driver---Conductor-advert

If you are a driver with a clean Category D PCV licence and current Driver CPC entitlement, call Crosville on 01934 635259 or email contact@crosvillemotorservices.co.uk. If you have an interest in older vehicles that would be great. If you are experienced with a crash gearbox be careful – they might bite your hand off! If you’re not, don’t worry as training may be given to suitable candidates.

They are looking for conductors as well, mainly for private hire jobs (weddings mostly) but also for timetabled services in the tourist season. They often use Bristol Lodekkas on a couple of their routes around W-S-M so conductors will need to be able to take fares as well as run the platform. Just like the old days, really! Ticket machines will be provided but if you have your own Setright, even better. Conductors weren’t used very much on wedding duties last year but they are likely to be needed more often this year because they will be included (or offered, at least) as part of the wedding ‘package’ by Crosville.

The work is not difficult if you know what you’re doing and it’s great fun too. If you’re like me, it’s like being paid to enjoy your hobby! Form an orderly queue, please.

A Bedford OB in the family

To make a change from buses, here is a photograph of a Bedford OB lorry. It belonged to my Grandfather in Salisbury, who ran a removals and light haulage business. The photo shows me standing with my Grandpa, who was recovering from a coronary thrombosis at the time and sadly never used the van again.

H-Dawkins-Bedford-OB

I was nearly four at the time and I vaguely remember being at the garage in Quidhampton where the van was kept. In his book “Sixty Years On Wheels”, my Grandfather had this to say about the Bedford:

When the war was over and Vickers Armstrong were closing down [Grandpa had done haulage work for them, and Supermarine too], I returned to civilian work once more. By this time removal work was beginning to increase and more Council Houses were being built around the district, particularly on Bemerton Heath – a new housing estate – and I found it necessary to have a larger van and a more modern vehicle so I placed an order with Anna Valley Motors Ltd for a new Bedford van.

At this time, new vehicles were difficult to obtain and orders were taken in rotation, but after waiting a year or more for my turn to come, I decided to look elsewhere for a vehicle and finally found one at Spiller & Wilkins at Chilmark in 1948. This was a rebuilt Bedford 5 ton chassis CWV968 and cost nearly £500 and then I had to pay over £100 more for a body to be fitted.

My Grandfather used the van until 1960 and covered 120,000 miles in it and, when he sold it he said “it was still good for many more”. I still have a few relics from those days: a battered old wooden box which was used to store small parts used in the assembly of Spitfires during the war.

Spitfire-box-&-pulley

My Grandfather used to transport boxes of bits between the various factories and makeshift assembly workshops that had been set up in the Salisbury area and this old box somehow found its way into my Grandfather’s house! He even managed to ‘liberate’ a pulley wheel which would have been used in a Spitfire near the wing root as part of the aileron controls.

Finally, on my garage wall hangs the sign-written board that was fixed to my Grandfather’s house in Wilton Road, from where he ran his haulage business.

H-Dawkins-sign

So you see, haulage must be in my blood even though these days I’m carrying SLF*. Talking of which, my next vintage bus duty isn’t until next month so I’ll dip into my transport archives again for my next post before we return to buses!

*SLF = Self Loading Freight.