All about me

Welcome to my blog.

I’m a middle-aged bloke living in the beautiful South West of England, happily married and working in the bus and coach industry.

Whether it’s as a result of a mid-life crisis or not, I’m not sure, but I started this blog to chart my progress towards becoming a fully licensed bus driver. No, I’m not thinking of changing my career (although it could come in useful if this recession hands me a P45 one day). [Edit: it did.]

Ever since I was knee-high to a grasshopper, I’ve been interested in trains, planes and automobiles. And buses. I suppose I ought to blame/credit my Dad for this because his enthusiasm for municipal transport in the 1960s, when I was growing up, rubbed off on me.

Some years ago I began part time work as a conductor on vintage buses although my ultimate aim was to drive them. That’s what this blog is about. I hope to share the ups and downs, the trials and tribulations of my journey towards that goal.

I hope you’ll join me on that journey. Read on, dear reader, read on…

[Edit: Since writing this introduction I have passed my PCV theory and practical tests and have driven heritage buses of all kinds at running days and on private hire duties for a number of operators and collectors. Blog posts will cover most of these activities plus some of a more modern flavour from my current employment with a well known coach operator].

Finally, all content in this blog, especially the photographs, are copyright to me. Please do not use any content except with my permission.

57 comments on “All about me

  1. Steve says:

    Becoming a bus driver is a great ambition but it is the conductors that get to chat to the dolly birds
    Also Bus Conductors are sorely missed by many, but good luck in becoming a driver.

    • busmanjohn says:

      Oh I don’t intend to give up conducting any time soon! I know we’re a rare breed and I get so many nice comments while on duty. I aim to give good, friendly, old fashioned service and like to run my bus properly, following all the old rules. This, together with all the right uniform and equipment, takes people back to their childhood days. Nothing wrong with a bit of escapism!
      Once I’ve passed the test I expect it will be 50% driving and 50% conducting.
      Thanks for your comment, Steve! Mind the stairs!

  2. Mike Dan says:

    Its great what you have achieved John. Your classic photos are very interesting too.

  3. Alan Jones says:

    Having been a Bus Driver for 20 odd years and now on my 3rd Marriage be very carefull ha

  4. Lee Taylor says:

    Stumbled across this page by chance, and found it very interesting! Well done! I was wondering if you could contact me direct at as I’m interested in learning a little more about the colour schemes of the exter buses in order that they can be used on an old Exeter tram.

    I look forward to hearing from you. Kindest regards


    • busmanjohn says:

      Hello Lee, many thanks for your comment. I rode on the Exeter tram you mentioned earlier this year! If you contact Bob Crawley at WHOTT (Westcountry Historic Omnibus & Transport Trust) he will be able to help you with the correct livery. His address is robert (at)

      WHOTT holds a vast archive of material on Exeter tram and bus operations so I’m sure that exact tram livery information will be in there somewhere!

      Best wishes,


  5. Gio says:

    Hi there!
    You’ve got wonderful buses, could you tell me if this —> JTE546
    1948 AEC Regent III is still on sale?
    Best regards,


    • busmanjohn says:

      Hello Gio, I don’t know the current status of JTE546. I have no contact with Quantock Motor Services these days so your best bet would be to call them yourself on 01823 430202.

  6. This is one of the best blogs I have discovered on the internet! Had never heard of Crosville Motor Services but am now looking at them for our wedding.

    • busmanjohn says:

      Hi Chris, many thanks for your comment. I hope that you will pop back and enjoy some more of my ramblings!

      Glad to hear that you might be looking for a heritage bus for your wedding. If it’s going to be in the Bristol/Somerset area, please call Crosville on 01934 635259 but if the venue is more than 25 miles from our depot they may not be able to help. From next year they are restricting the empty mileage of the older buses. It takes a long time (not to mention wear and tear) to travel up to 100 miles in a bus that only does 30mph!

  7. Hi
    A friend and myself own two ex Devon General buses.9 RDV and EOD 524D.I have visited Upton Vale Baptist Church on several occasions when visiting Torquay and wondered why the link from your website?Do you have a connection or an interest in UV?
    Royston Morgan

    • busmanjohn says:

      Hello Royston, thanks for your comment. The link to UV is there because I have been a member there since the mid eighties. My wife and I are currently vocalists in the worship band and I occasionally play the organ.
      Let me know if you plan to visit, we must meet up! I remember seeing both of your vehicles when I was a boy.

      Best wishes,


  8. dimitris fakalos says:


    my name is Dimitris Fakalos and I’m mailing you from Patras, Greece.
    I’m interested in purchasing a double-decker English bus, prefferably a red one. I’m looking for a ‘hop-on hop-off’ model.
    I want to be using it as a ‘bar-on-wheels’ for the carnival period, so it is not going to be used neither for long distances, nor for the whole year long.
    In addition to that, I want to inform you that I do not mind if it doesn’t have all the seats. I do not need it to have more than 10 -12 seats in total.
    The perfect combination for me would be a double-decker, half of the top to be open, not to have necessarily (all) the seats, but the engine has to be running, even if it is not an original Leyland or the Routemaster or whatever other engine it used to have.
    In conclusion, I need a price for a running vintage double decker, with or without original parts (engine and interior) and the cost to ship it to Greece.
    For any further information please do contact me at this mail or at the 0030 6946 337833.

    Thank in advance for your response,
    Dimitris Fakalos

    P.S I need to have the bus in my posession by December 2014. So, I’m not exactly in a hurry….

    • busmanjohn says:

      Hi Dimitris, thank you for your comment. I don’t know of a bus that meets your needs exactly but I have passed your message on to someone who regularly exports all kinds of buses.

  9. Paul Quest says:

    Hi John
    I came across your website by accident and have enjoyed reading of your interest in all things to do with buses and coaches. I have been on the fringe of the bus world since I was a child.My love of coaches started as a child when we always travelled by Royal Blue coaches from London to Plymouth. I am a 76 year old retired teacher who I took my PSV licence in Birmingham in 1963 and only gave it up last year when the new CPC regulations came into force. I have had more fun with my PSV licence than any other qualification that I ever acquired. It has taken me all over Europe to such far flung places as Athens, Sparta, Rome, Florence, Venice amongst other European Cities.

  10. Toby Martin says:

    Hi John
    I’ve just stumbled across your blog as my girlfriend & I are getting married in Wiltshire next year & are looking around for a vintage bus to hire on the day… we’re finding it quite difficult! I appreciate that this might not be your area, but I saw your post about the Corsham wedding you attended and wondered if you were hired privately to do that, or if it was through a company? If so, would you be able to pass any details or recommendations on to me?
    Thanks a million

    • busmanjohn says:

      Hi Toby, thanks for your enquiry. The Corsham job you read about was a private hire booked through Crosville Motor Services, Weston-super-Mare. Recently, Crosville has restricted its private hire bookings to those venues which are within 30 miles of Weston which normally includes most of Somerset, Bristol and sometimes north into Gloucester. I did venture into Wiltshire once this year and that was for a private hire at Stourhead. Previously we used to do some very long empty journeys which not only adds to the wear and tear on our historic vehicles, it also takes a long time as few of them can manage more than 30mph!
      However, feel free to contact Crosville as it would depend on where in Wiltshire your venue is. Your can call them on 01934 635259, use the enquiry form on their website or email them.
      Otherwise, this website has a useful list of vintage bus operators some of whom will operate in the Wiltshire area. Hope this helps.

  11. David DOMIN says:

    Hi John, You may be just the man to help with a problem I have. I’m currently researching for a publication for The OS on garages and outstations of Major Ops in the West country (WEST.MOG). I’m having difficulty finding accurate data for Wilts & Dorset, especially pre NBC. I can’t find a date for the opening of Castle Street (east) for instance. If I send you my current list, could you check it over, and perhaps add anything please?

    • busmanjohn says:

      Hi David, thanks for your comment. I will do my best to help with your request so feel free to send me your list. I’ve sent you a private email to which you can reply.

  12. Clifford Jones says:

    Hi John. Please can you tell me what happened to the Red Bus Co in Exeter? I am interested in ex Southdown vehicles particularly breakdown tenders. Southdown sold a converted Green Goddess to Red Bus Co and I think I have seen a photo of it at a rally

    • Richard Holladay says:

      Contact me via
      On 27th Feb 2016 I’m giving a Powepoint show on Red Bus Services History to the Devon General Society at 2pm at Buckerell Lodge Hotel, Topsham Road, Exeter and I KNOW that I have little or any info on this Southdown Green Goddess that I acquired – when – no idea – I have just a distant view of the back end of it when it was with me and cannot even remember where it went on to or even when I acquired it and from whom – however – an image to add to my archives would be very welcome.and any other information.
      Richard Holladay

  13. Tom C says:

    Hi. I’m just wondering if you know where I can get hold of a Wayfarer II Programming key?


  14. Richard Holladay says:

    Hi there,
    If you took any other images of the May1st & 2nd RAILFAIR at Exeter in 1994 (apart from my VDV818) of any other Red Bus Services vehicles could you let me know as although I was involved with that event not only with 818 but my VRs were involved with shuttling visitors from Westpoint I failed to take any photos and am always keen to enhance my archive material – thanks
    Richard H

    • busmanjohn says:

      Hello Richard, I don’t think I took any other photos of buses because 818 was the only one we travelled on. All my other shots taken that weekend were of steam locomotives.

  15. Hello,

    I try to buy a vintage bus for our castle in Burgundy… Could You help me ?

    Sincerely Yours

  16. I have been a bus enthusiast since 1952 when as a small kid I looked out our flat window in Bognor Regis high street to see a TD5 stop a the bus stop opposite. This led to usual number crunching with a friend. Hanging around Bognor bus station and garage, buying a PS1 that was being used as left luggage office. Then a Southdown(TD5) breakdown tender which I got trade plates for and started buying & selling. Acquiring a Southdown demountable PD3 (422 DCD) and ended up with an assorted collection of heritage buses 2 x PDR1’s ex Devon General and a borrowed Lodekka and formed a bus company which was based at London & Country Crawley garage for a time. This led to 22 vehicles based at Newhaven with £300000 worth of contracts. I walked away when Metrobus came into the equation and ended up working for Brighton & Hove before I semi retired on the canals with a Hotelboat.


  17. Anna R says:

    Dear John, I was wondering if you might be able to help me with an unusual bus tour! We have a 1978 routemaster we’re hoping to drive around Europe for 5 months and are looking for a mechanic to fix some parts such as the steering wheel and mirrors (the bus is based just outside Oxford at the moment) and someone to drive it (not necessarily for all of the trip!). If you’d be interested, or know anyone who might be able to help service or drive the bus we’d really appreciate any help you’re able to give us with it!

    • busmanjohn says:

      Hello Anna, you might want to confirm what kind of bus you have because Routemasters were built between 1954 and 1968. If yours was built in 1978 it almost certainly isn’t a Routemaster. Once I know what kind of bus it is I might be able to make some suggestions.

  18. Danny Lunn says:

    Hi John
    I am looking to buy a Bristol Lodekka and wondered if you might know of one for sale somwhere or anyone that may be considering selling their’s. Any leads or suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

    Kind regards Dan

    • busmanjohn says:

      Lodekkas are very sought after and, when they do come up for sale, are snapped up quite quickly. The exceptions are those needing a lot of work! If I hear of one that’s available I will let you know. In the meantime, check Rob Sly’s website. He has a finger on the pulse when it comes to sales and disposals.

  19. Richard Holladay, Devon UK says:

    Hi John – assistance to find an up to date E Mail address for DANIEL SHEARS qappreciated (Today is 11.1.2017) the email on the Winkleigh Site is undeliverable to – all best for 2017 – Richard Holladay – you have my email or Chudleigh Code 852512

  20. Dear John. I’m looking for a volunteer to drive my fully-restored Bristol MW service bus from Keynsham near Bristol to Chippenham for the bus rally on 21st May. The bus normally lives in Essex but we have had it in Bristol for my daughter’s wedding. I am unable to drive it myself but have a couple of friends who will collect it from Chippenham and return it to Essex the day after the rally. It would be nice to have at Chippenham as it is so rarely in the west country. Please contacy me on

    Many thanks
    Nigel R. B. Furness

  21. Christine Drury says:

    Hi, my husband has just started driving a routemaster bus for a heritage railway and is looking for somewhere to purchase a vintage/replica bus drivers dust jacket. Could you point me in the right direction please? Thanks

  22. phil says:

    tower wagon ive just seen the picture of fae 60 I used to drive it back in the early 1970,s ive been keeping an eye out to see if its going to any shows so I can go and see it again can you give me any information please would be nice to get some photos with it

    • busmanjohn says:

      It will be on display on Weston-super-Mare seafront this Saturday!

      • phil says:

        any other venues this year I’m not sure I’m around for Saturday what time will it be there and is it on view at the old bus depot ?

      • busmanjohn says:

        No other venues planned so far. FAE60 will be on static display on the Beach Lawns from 10:00 until about 17:00. The depot is not open to the general public but, if you call the office, someone might be able to show you round.

      • phil says:

        thanks for that I wont be able to get down this weekend due to unseen problem but if I am down that way soon ill pop in thanks for reply they look as if its been restored well id love to see what they did inside the crew cab I bet it doesn’t look like it did when I worked there
        regards Phil

  23. Ken Jones says:

    Hi John
    So here in Birmingham I’m told you are now going to be driving for Bakers Dolphin Coaches. Did they once have an open topper bus – perhaps they still do

  24. Jack Woodhams says:

    Hi, just found your interesting blog and notice you do some driving for English Riviera Tours. I also noticed a post about taking vehicles to storage. I am looking to relocate a Bedford WTB from the Isle of Wight to South Devon (I live in Paignton) and am looking for suitable storage for her. Could you give me an email on if you have any further information you would be able to provide me with? Thank you in advance

  25. liamshepard1996 says:

    Hi Busman John

    Do you have any black bus drivers/conductors hat with yellow piping 6 7/8 (55cm)? I want to get one for an enthusiast I know who owns a vintage bus so that he can wear when he’s driving it. Please can you contact me on and soon as you sent me an email I’ll come back to you straight away.

    Best regards


  26. Steve SD says:

    Good morning Busman John, a good read thank you.

    Discovered this site yesterday (31st May 2021) and only wish I had done so years ago. The design and content is great, with a mass of information from very experienced ‘bus people’. I’d like to post here occasionally. Geographically speaking, I believe we may live in the same part of the UK. I live in Taunton. Best wishes to all on these pages.


    • busmanjohn says:

      Welcome aboard, Steve!

      I’m glad you’ve found us and that you have enjoyed reading about my adventures. Yes, we are reasonably close neighbours. Especially when one of my regular readers lives in Australia!

      Feel free to comment or submit something more substantial. I regret that my own postings have slowed to a trickle due to the pandemic but heritage duties have returned now, so there will hopefully be more for you to read soon.


  27. Steve SD says:

    My grandfather was a conductor (and later a driver) for Cullings Coaches, Norwich. I am now 65, my grandfather died when I was about 5, perhaps a bit older, I think. Many years ago I was given his Conductor’s badge by my Uncle (which I wore last weekend on a heritage job for somebody’s wedding).

    I have never taken a full or part-time job as a bus/coach driver because of careers unconnected with the transport industry, but I wanted to take the PSV test because of the stories I had been told of my grandfather’s ‘exploits’. Apparently, my grandfather used to tell me that when he was driving the bus, he would occasionally ‘see Rupert Bear and his chums, walking along the road’. Odd how we tell our children/grandchildren such stories. I used to tell my kids that I had seen a crocodile in the stream in our village.

    Anyway, I passed my PSV test in 1980, in Taunton. Got the red badge, which I have still. For the last 18 years I have been a driving instructor (cars) and (since 2009) added to my skills and qualifications in Category D as an independent driver trainer. Now fully retired though. Contacted a local heritage bus company and drove (for the first time ever) a 1947 Leyland Tiger PS1 last month. A couple of poor gear changes but generally ok. I had the owner of the bus sat behind me so ‘no pressure’ !!

    A second drive, on a different PS1 last week proved to be a very poor. Thankfully the bus was empty and the more experienced driver was patient (I probably forced him to take medication afterwards). Don’t know why I made such a ‘balls up’, but I am hoping I can have a few more opportunities to get things right for future heritage driving.

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