I know some of you are still waiting for news of the long-awaited replica Tilling dust jackets. Thanks for being patient – it will be worth the wait. But for those who are keen to have a look-alike jacket ready for the 2015 season, there is an alternative.
This is a bus-style jacket produced by Yarmouth Stores, a workwear manufacturer on the east coast of England. They’ve been making these for several years now and they look quite convincing if you regularly play the part of a traditional bus driver or bus conductor. In fact I used to wear one of these before I found an original one online. I’m wearing a Yarmo jacket in the photo below, which was taken by Cherry Selby, a lovely lady conductor who took me under her wing when I first started conducting.
Sold under the ‘Yarmo‘ brand, the Summer Bus Jackets (ref JK37) are available in most sizes with a choice of green or maroon trim. When their new website goes live you will be able to purchase these online but, until then, call Yarmouth Stores on 0800 1300521 and ask for Sharon, the Sales Manager. The price is a very reasonable £31.95 plus £3.50 for delivery. If you ask nicely and mention ‘Busman’s Holiday’ you might even get a small discount!
If you have your own collection of bus uniform buttons you can use them with these jackets because the black plastic buttons provided are removable and have a split-ring fastening just like the originals.
I ought to point out that these jackets are made to a freelance pattern and the fabric is polyester, rather than the cotton twill that the originals were made from.
If you are interested in uniform trousers as well – complete with coloured piping down the legs, these are available from Yarmo as well. Like the jackets, these are made from polyester fabric and come in most sizes. You can choose from yellow, red or green piping. I wear a pair of these in the summer as they are much lighter and more comfortable than the original woollen serge trousers.
In other news, it’s nearly time to blow the cobwebs off the 1947 PD2 bus in readiness for the 2015 sightseeing season and I have my first Crosville private hire duty of the year in about 10 days’ time.
…but where is it now?
Many of the classic buses and coaches which we enjoy today owe their survival to non-PSV use after withdrawal. One such bus is a Bristol FLF which has featured heavily on these pages in the past.
The photo above shows Hants & Dorset’s 1220 (FLF6G DEL893C) in gleaming H&D livery a couple of years ago but long before that it entered service, still wearing faded Poppy Red, with Double Two Shirts in about 1981. This large Wakefield-based manufacturer used to run quite an extensive fleet of ex-service vehicles, mostly Bristol FLFs and VRTs, to convey staff to and from the factory. I recently came across a YouTube clip of some of these vehicles in action:
Staff Bus (Double Two, Wakefield)
After passing through the hands of several owners, including Quantock Motor Services (left, seen entering Porlock), it reached Weston-super-Mare in the ownership of the fledgling Crosville Motor Services. It became a mainstay of the heritage hire fleet and was the first bus I drove in service after passing my PCV test in 2012.
While posting comments in a Bristol Lodekka-related Facebook group I mentioned a Bus Conductors’ Rule Book that I wrote several years ago and a few people have asked if they can have a copy. It is for their benefit that this is posted here.
This was written by me in 2009 specifically for Quantock Motor Services and with their Service 400 ‘Exmoor Explorer’ in mind. The Rule Book is based on traditional practice but is obviously tailored towards the needs of QMS at that time. Rule Books from other heritage operators (and indeed the major operators in years gone by) will have been significantly different.
A PDF copy of the Conductors’ Rule Book may be downloaded here.
Many of you will have followed my driving adventures since I was a lowly conductor and will know that the subject of railways has cropped up more than once. In fact it’s curious how often the buses I’ve conducted on – or have driven – have crossed paths with trains of one sort or another. Naturally, those hauled by steam locomotives grab my attention more than any others!
This was the scene a couple of weeks ago when the Sightseeing Tours bus was parked at Preston Sands halfway through the afternoon tour. The coastal road passes over the railway line by Hollicombe Beach and I’d spotted a plume of steam rising from the stationary loco as it waited for a path into Paignton station. Fortunately I had plenty of time to position myself for a photo before the train passed by. The loco was GWR 4-6-0 No 5029 ‘Nunney Castle’ which was hauling the Cathedrals Express into Paignton from Westbury.
Several years ago I was a conductor for Quantock Motor Services (sadly no longer trading) which had its depot right next to Bishop’s Lydeard station on the West Somerset Railway. I was able to see, hear and smell many steam-hauled trains while preparing buses.
Quantock used to provide a fleet of buses for a Christmas Park and Ride service into Taunton town centre and it was while conducting on one of these services that the bus I was on passed over the new Silk Mills bridge just as Gresley Pacific ‘Sir Nigel Gresley‘ passed directly underneath!
Looking back in my family archives I came across this photo of ex-London Transport AEC Regent III, RT 1377 when operating with Guernseybus in the 1990s.
The bus has been on the island of Malta since 2008 and the BusWeb site carries this snippet of information about it: “Originally London Transport RT1377 (KXW 476), this AEC Regent III operated for many years as an open-topper on the island of Guernsey, first with Guernseybus and then with Island FM as a publicity vehicle. It arrived on Malta in 2008 and is pictured in March 2009 in as acquired condition. The intention was to use it on sightseeing tours, but it never entered service and is now with the Malta Historic Vehicle Trust.
The young chap in the driver’s seat in the photo above is my eldest son, who shares my interest in historic transport. He’s grown up with his own family now but last year sampled the cab of a Crosville Bristol L5G when I passed through his neck of the woods last year.
What is it about Dads? We feel constrained to put our young children in the driver’s seat of any old bus we come across! I did the same with the old RT on Guernsey. In the back of my mind I was trying to re-create the photo my Dad took of me in the cab of a Lodekka when I was about 4. How could I turn down the opportunity to do the same?!
So here’s young son Peter in the cab of RT1377.
If you have been following this blog for some time you will have seen evidence that Peter joins me sometimes as bus conductor. I’m delighted that, although he never saw half-cab buses in service, he’s developed an affinity for the old days and is more than happy to don a Tilling uniform and run the platform on special occasions.