New batch of Tilling-style jackets: interested?

Following my previous post about surviving summer dust jackets from former Tilling Group operators, I have been in touch with one of my blog readers. Between us we have hatched a plan to have some new jackets made.

The trouble with original jackets is, as you can see, they are all at least 40 years old now and most will have had a harsh working life before that. Quite apart from the fact that they are about as rare as hen’s teeth when it comes to acquiring one these days.

A chap I know is part of a group that commissioned a new batch of London Area jackets from a workwear manufacturer. They turned out to be really rather good, being made from the correct cotton twill fabric and double-stitched as per the originals. Our plan is to investigate the costs involved in having another batch made, this time using an original (unissued and unwashed) Crosville jacket as a template.

We would have both green and red trim made so that drivers and conductors can have a jacket that is correct for the bus operator of their choice. We believe that the base ‘khaki’ colour was common to both green and red fleets, unless you know different. In which case, please say so!

The success of this project depends of course on a viable number of people being willing to place an order. I plan to publicise this in as many places as possible, directing people to this blog and the Poll that you see on the right of this page.  The cost of each jacket will of course depend on the size of the order so please use the Poll to signify your interest. To set your mind at rest, an expression of interest does not constitute an order but we would hope that it will be a firm commitment to buy, when the time for ordering comes.

Just one thing; if you email me or leave a comment expressing interest, please tell me if you’ve voted in the Poll as well, otherwise you’ll be counted twice!

A growing number of heritage buses are being returned to use, many of them for commercial operations such as private hire and weddings. The one thing that is often missing though is correctly dressed crews, which is why this new batch should be very popular.

And if anyone needs a new cap with yellow piping, I have a contact for those as well!

Weston-super-Mare Vintage Bus Running Day

EDIT: This page refers to the 2012 event. See this page for news of the Crosville Bus Rally 2013 or, better still, visit the rally page on the Crosville website.

The folks at Crosville Motor Services, for whom I drive quite frequently, are putting together ambitious plans for a Running Day on Sunday August 26th. It will involve putting out every roadworthy bus in their garage, if they can find enough crews of course!

That will, of course, include more than Lodekkas. Although they have been the staple diet of this blog, I’m pleased to say that other examples of the Bristol marque will be present, including  K, L, MW, VR and LH. Non-Bristol vehicles may even turn up as visitors to redress the Bristol-heavy bias!

The day will also include a celebration of 25 years since the local Badgerline company was established.

If all goes to plan, Crosville’s timetabled services 100, 145 and 152 will all be operated by heritage buses and a shuttle service, linking the depot to various parts of the town, will be operated by up to 6 Bristol Ks. Most of these will be supplied by the Bristol Omnibus Vehicle Collection, which shares garage space with Crosville’s own heritage fleet.

There will be static displays, a road-making demonstration and society stalls at the depot, admission to which will be by the purchase of a programme. This also allows you unlimited travel on any of the timetabled services running on the day. Also on display will be some of the modern bus and coach fleet, together with some interesting Crosville restoration projects including an AEC Matador recovery vehicle.

I’ve had great fun designing an advert for the event, which you can also download as a PDF, if you feel like printing one out. I’m sure they’d welcome any help with spreading the word!

Crosville Running Day A4 poster

If any of you are qualified PCV drivers with crash gearbox experience or have done conducting and would like to help, please call the Crosville office on 01934 635259. I’ve got my name down for this event (how could I miss it?) and I’m secretly hoping to have a go in one of the Bristol Ks. The only down side is that it’s on a Sunday, when I’m usually to be found in church, but I’m making a special exception this time!

In other news, I’m off up to Cheltenham tomorrow. No, not the races! I’m out with the Hants & Dorset Bristol FLF again, providing transport for a wedding. The forecast is appalling though, so spare a thought for yours truly as I battle through wind and weather.

Training day, but not for me

Last weekend I had a double dose of conducting, being on Service 400 duty on Saturday and Sunday. I had a trainee conductor with me on Saturday. She shadowed me on the first trip round and I let her do the conducting (under my supervision of course) in the afternoon. She did pretty well for a youngster. Her dad is a bus driver and she has conducted on private hire jobs with him several times so she knew the basics already. She will need several more training trips before we let her go solo!

I couldn’t resist taking this picture before we set off in the morning! It’s not often that all three of our Bristol Lodekka open toppers are parked together.

I had two special passengers on board on Saturday too. One was a good friend from Torquay whom I’ve known for about 25 years. The other was a regular reader of this blog – it was good to meet you!

Our driver was relatively new to the Exmoor route and to driving heritage vehicles. His driving was a little rough round the edges but, like some of the roads on our route, the learning curve is steep!

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Lunch break for Bristol bus crew

Here’s a photo of a bus crew in about 1969, taking a lunch break in Blackhorse, Bristol. I came across this image by chance, while my father-in-law was scanning his collection of colour transparencies onto his computer.

Bristol Tramways bus crew at Blackhorse

The subject of the photograph wasn’t the bus crew, in fact they only occupy a corner of the image. The main event (the opening of a new church building) was taking place behind them. I’ve cropped everything else out to illustrate the uniform of the time and to chuckle at the Elvis hairstyle and loud socks. Curiously, the conductor has placed the chin strap (normally an obsolete feature, just above the cap’s peak) over the top of the cap. I wonder why?

Their green and cream Bristol Omnibus steed, probably a Bristol LD or FLF, was out of shot to the left.

I’m interested to note that, although both the conductor and driver are wearing summer dust jackets, the conductor’s cap doesn’t have a white top. Some operators issued these removable fabric covers (or ‘gloves’) to crews in the summer but the practice doesn’t seem to be as widespread in Tilling group companies as I’d thought. I’ve seen another image recently of a Western National crew wearing summer jackets but not white topped caps. Words of wisdom, anyone?

Obsolete badges

Yes, I know, bus crews don’t wear those badges any more.

But, as you will have gathered, I have one foot in the past and I like to dress the part when conducting on a vintage* bus. That’s why, if you’re a passenger on the Service 400 “Exmoor Explorer” when I’m rostered, you’ll see me kitted out as a 1960s bus conductor. [Edit: sadly this service no longer runs. Also, I no longer work for that operator!]

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The story so far

Having decided that the time was right to migrate from the back of a bus to the front, I gathered the necessary forms from the DSA (Driving Standards Agency) along with several text books on driving large vehicles. I called my local doctor’s surgery and nearly fell off my chair when they quoted £104.00 to carry out a medical! I politely said “thanks, I’ll be in touch”. I was of course, but not with them. After a bit of digging around on the net, I found another doctor across town who would do it for £35.00. This suited my pocket much better so I made an appointment.

The day of my appointment arrived and my next challenge was to find the place. It was actually a Chiropractor’s surgery on the first floor above a small shop in a pedestrian precinct. This being a Saturday, it was occupied by a doctor whose waiting room was full of chaps like me, clutching D4 Medical Report forms. Continue reading

By way of an introduction…

on the platform

Me, on the platform. Photo © Martin Fowler.

Welcome to my blog! Follow me as I embark on a nerve-racking – but ultimately rewarding – journey towards my destination: becoming a bus driver.

For those who can’t be bothered to read the About Me page, or perhaps haven’t found the link yet, here is a little background.

I’m a bloke of… ahem, mature years who has a lifelong interest in vintage transport. I think I inherited it from my Dad, who took great delight in taking me for rides on buses and trains in the 1960s when I was growing up. I have abiding memories of riding into a certain town in Wiltshire which was served by one of the ubiquitous Tilling fleets. The red and cream variety.

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