A new batch of bus crew caps: anyone interested?

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.

Conductor-cap

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.

Tilling-style-caps

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.

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26 comments on “A new batch of bus crew caps: anyone interested?

  1. JOHN IMMINS says:

    When do you think you will be taking orders for the bus driver/ conductors caps.

    • busmanjohn says:

      No firm date at the moment. There are investigations still going on. There are only a couple of suitable manufacturers in the UK and we’re planning the best way to produce a small but affordable batch.

      • JOHN IMMINS says:

        Thank you for the update. I am a driver with the LEICESTER TRANSPORT HERITAGE TRUST and our chairman was interested in our drivers being suitably uniformed for our events. We have dust jackets, black trousers, white shirts and also maroon fleece. The old style driver/conductor cap would finish the uniform. Have a look at our website which will give you some idea of our group and it’s vehicles along with the uniforms. Regards John

      • John Immins says:

        Has there been any developments for the bus caps.

      • Raymond garey says:

        Hi I would be interested in a bus mans cap.I used to work for London Transport many years ago.

      • busmanjohn says:

        I will post more information when a new batch is ready to order.

  2. Tony Hawes says:

    Hi I would be very interested in buying a jacket (tan with red trim) and also a cap as soon as these items are available. Do you have any idea when these uniform items are likely to be ready as I will try to get a larger order from other members of our group. We operate ex portsmouth corporation vehicles.

    • busmanjohn says:

      Hi Tony, I can’t give you a timescale at the moment. A friend of mine in the London area is coordinating this but as soon as there is any news I will post it here.

  3. JOHN IMMINS says:

    Hello John, With regard to the driver/conductors caps, I will hope to make an order of a dozen mixed sizes on behalf of our bus group, when they become available. Regards John

  4. Peter j parker says:

    Hi do you have any brown. (N&c coaches) caps. Thanks

    • busmanjohn says:

      I personally don’t have any caps. I have a friend who is trying to coordinate a new batch of summer jackets and possibly caps as well. This project will suit those who wish to replicate a Tilling group uniform. The caps would have red, yellow or green piping.

      • Ron Collins says:

        would like to be on your list please have a Southdown summer jacket that is getting threadbare virtually same as Tilling group uniform any information would be very grateful

  5. Geoff Conway says:

    Looking for midland general uniforms any ideas please

  6. JOHN says:

    Has there been any progress in acquiring any of the uniform caps yet!

    • busmanjohn says:

      Nothing yet. Sadly, I’m just the middle man trying to gather interest. The chap running the project can only do it in his spare time, something which evidently is in short supply. I will update the blog when there’s news to report.

  7. Mark Hughes says:

    I am a London bus driver and own a routemaster I am trying to purchase a driver’s navy cap with blue piping to go with our bus on functions. Can you help me please.

    • busmanjohn says:

      Hello Mark, thanks for leaving a comment. I have emailed you privately with a suggestion.

      • Carl Romer says:

        Morning. I have recently managed to purchase a mint London Transport summer driver/ conductors hat. Unfortunately, it’s the smallest size. Any idea where I could get some made using this as a pattern. I have a 1965 Routemaster, and a 1984 open top Olympian ex W & D. Thanks Carl

      • busmanjohn says:

        The only decent cap maker I can think of is Try & Lilly, Liverpool. You may have to gather some interest from others so that you can make qualify for a minimum order.

  8. Ron Collins says:

    Hello any more news on uniforms please

    • busmanjohn says:

      Hello Ron, the jackets project is still alive, just. Progress is slow but the chap handling it is in discussions with a manufacturer. I will write a new post when jackets are ready to be ordered.

    • Mark Hughes says:

      We are very interested in London transport bus drivers cap navy with blue piping we would be very interested in purchasing one if you go ahead to get some.

  9. John Howden says:

    I would be interested in two bus drivers caps – one for Western National and the other Thames Valley. I’d also be interested in a Tilling red dust jacket.

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