More and more historic buses and coaches seem to be returning to roadworthy condition these days. Full marks to those who have worked hard and dug deep to do so. Opportunities to offer rides in them are on the up as well, with many bus-related events turning from mainly static displays into quite comprehensive running days. Full marks also go to those who organise these events and give a flavour of what it was like to ride these classics in service.
But the icing on the cake for me is to see these buses turned out with a properly dressed crew (click this link and scroll down to see a great crew line-up). I know that for most people this is a voluntary exercise and those who wear an authentic uniform have usually sourced or made it themselves. A few examples of genuine bus crew uniform can be obtained from online auction sites but these are often overpriced and frequently life-expired. While it is possible to buy new peaked caps – sold as chauffeur or airline caps – that resemble genuine bus crew headgear, few really look the part.
Some times ago a friend and I set up a project to manufacture a new batch of authentic Tilling style summer dust jackets. This is still making progress, but more on that later. While gathering support on this blog for these new jackets I found that there was a lot of interest in caps as well so we have decided to actively drum up support for a new batch of these too.
Perhaps due to the fact that the ‘Tilling Group’ – the rather generic name for the company and its later incarnations which was started by Thomas Tilling in 1846 – latterly had a very standardised style of uniform right across the UK, we have decided to model our new caps on those issued to Tilling fleet crews but of course they will probably suit many other operators’ uniforms as well. These are plain black peaked caps, made with the same heavy serge fabric used in winter uniforms. They had coloured piping bands around the brim too, but there were many variations between the different operators within the group. Some had yellow piping, some had red, green or blue. Sometimes there was a second ring of piping, either below the brim or at the base of the cap.
It would not be cost effective to recreate all these variants so we are going to take a straw poll and go with the majority. If you are genuinely interested in purchasing a new cap to add to your otherwise complete uniform (Tilling or otherwise), please take a look at the two Polls below and vote for the colour and style of piping you would prefer. Details such as sizes, prices and ordering process will come later – this is just to start the ball rolling.
The dust jackets project is making slow progress, as I stated earlier. We have sourced the correct cotton twill base fabric and hope to dye it in two batches. One will be the khaki colour as worn by crews on green Tilling fleets and the other will be the tan colour that was worn in red fleets. I know there were other liveries (such as Midland General) but these were in the minority and, at the moment, we can only cater for the majority. In pursuit of the correct colour for the red fleets, we desperately need an example of an original garment such as one worn by Thames Valley or Wilts & Dorset bus crews for instance. If you have (or know of) a good example and would be prepared to lend it to us for colour matching, please leave a comment and I’ll be in touch privately. Thanks.
In other news, I have recently started to take a great interest in the Bonhams’ London to Brighton Veteran Car Run. Although it’s not until November, the date is definitely in my diary. More later.