End of the road for bus terminii?

In the good old days, or so I’m told, bus conductors used to call out “Terminus!” when their bus reached its destination whereupon any remaining passengers would alight.

Salisbury-Bus-Station-(DJD)

These days, it would seem, Mr Progress is shouting “Terminus!” at terminii up and down the country, signifying the closure of once-busy transport hubs in our town centres. So, just for old times’ sake, here is a photograph of a bus station in its heyday. This is Salisbury Bus Station, taken by my father in about 1954 from his office window. Just like me when I worked for the Express & Echo newspaper in Exeter, my Dad enjoyed a fine view while supposedly at work! In his case he was learning the ropes as an architectural technician at Rawlence & Squarey.

The notes accompanying this photo state that the two buses in the foreground were at the time being used as a canteen and staff restroom. The double deck bus is Wilts & Dorset no 20 (ex-Southdown 920), a Leyland TD1 with a Willowbrook body. It originally carried a Short Bros body.

OHR919-leaving-Salisbury-Bus-Station

Fast forward 60 years and Salisbury Bus Station closed in January 2014. I was there, regular readers will recall. With a tear in my eye, I led a cavalcade of historic Wilts & Dorset buses on the last ever scheduled departure. In this rather shaky clip (fast forward to 14:15) I’m driving the leading Lodekka.

On the same day Amesbury Bus Station closed. Salisbury Reds, the present-day operator of bus services in the area, could no longer justify the cost of maintaining the crumbling and outdated structures. Services now arrive and depart from various stops around the city centre. How times have changed.

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The day I nearly died at the wheel

Although this story is all about driving, it doesn’t involve a bus.

Tractor-at-Moortown-Farm

This photo shows a Ford 6600 tractor when fairly new. In fact I was the one that collected it from the dealer. At the time I was working at Moortown Farm near Chulmleigh, mid-Devon during the summer holidays when I was a student at Art College. That summer’s exploits could be the subject of several blog posts!

Anyway, the farm had four tractors at the time and my duties included spraying pig slurry on the fields (which was what I was doing when I took this picture), taking grain down the road to the corn mill and, later on, ploughing and cultivating the fields once the crops had been harvested.

One of the tractors, another Ford with four-wheel-drive, was still in use but was due to be replaced by the one shown above. It had a reputation for being a gutless wonder and the farmer for whom I worked often used to say that “it couldn’t pull the skin off a rice pudding!” and I can say from experience that he was right! However, it got the job done eventually. You just had to take your time.

Theoretically it had brakes too, but they were nearly as ineffective at making the machine stop as the engine was at making it go. The brakes only worked on the rear wheels and were purely mechanical, no power assistance. I had to press really hard with my booted feet to arrest its progress!

Using the gears, on all the tractors, was not easy. As an 18 year old student who had only recently learned to drive, I found that I could change up reasonably well but not down. He didn’t explain it very well, but the farmer told me that tractors don’t have gearboxes like cars and that, if you wanted a lower gear, you had to stop to select it. If I had known then what I know now, I would have realised that double de-clutching would have been the key to downchanges on the move.

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