Bath Services bus crew in miniature

Some time ago I featured a few photographs of a very well researched model of a Bath Services Bristol L5G. Now, to complete the scene, a colleague and I have joined the bus on the fine scale model railway.

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The detailed layout, along with its skilled owner, is located in far-away Melbourne, Australia and the bus crew is of course represented in miniature form! The layout is described in more detail in this post from March 2014.

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The addition of the driver and conductor was the finishing touch to this wayside station cameo and Ray, always keen to get the details right, asked for some help with the bus crew uniforms. Although I’m a relative newcomer to the world of vintage buses I did have some photographic reference, including a shot of a colleague and me wearing authentic ‘Tilling’ uniforms beside a Bath Services Lodekka.

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Ray used these photos as reference material for the professional model makers who painted the cast resin bus crew. I hope you’ll agree that the finished scene is remarkable. I also approve of the early Morris Minor in the background, complete with split screen and clap-hand wipers!

In other news, I’m ‘between jobs’ as they say in the acting profession. Driving for the local sightseeing tours has come to an end now and, although I have a couple of wedding duties with Crosville coming up in November, I’m driving a desk and catching up with jobs at home before the next bus-related project comes along. Also on the horizon is a new book, based on the early part of this blog and covering the trials and tribulations of a bus conductor who is looking for promotion up to the noisy end! Good fireside reading – anyone interested in buying a copy one day?

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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.

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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!

Wanted: Tilling uniforms and Setright machines

The folks at Crosville like to present their heritage buses in tip top condition, whether they’re in service on a timetabled route in Weston-super-Mare or further afield on a wedding duty. Whenever I turn up, my allocated bus has always been washed and swept. It is usually decorated with ribbons too, if it is a wedding duty.

But the icing on the cake, as it were, when on duty with a heritage bus is if the crew is able to wear a proper uniform from the period when the bus was originally in service.

In my case, I’m already sorted and so is my son Peter if he is conducting with me. But few of the other crews at Crosville have genuine ‘Tilling group’ uniforms, either summer dust jackets like the one Peter is modelling above, or a full winter uniform. Just occasionally a suitable dust jacket comes up on Ebay but they are few and far between. If you are reading this and have a jacket, cap, Setright ticket machine or cash bag you would like to donate/sell to a Crosville crew, please let me know! Setright machines need to be decimal, issue tickets up to the value of at least £9.99 and have a ‘concessions’ setting or a similar means of counting a particular class of ticket being issued.

If you can help, please leave a comment and I’ll get in touch with you. Thank you!

Tilling summer jacket on Ebay

[Edit: this auction has now ended]

One of my blog readers has just spotted this Tilling summer dust jacket, ex-Eastern National, on Ebay. I can’t vouch for its quality but, looking at the photograph, its not bad!

Tilling Group Bus Driver’s Jacket

The auction ends on Saturday, June 30th 2012, at 10:53 so put your bid in if you’re interested. When it comes to acquiring one, these are becoming as rare as hen’s teeth. When I was looking for one, I resorted to having one made especially for me by a workwear company in Yarmouth before I was able to buy a genuine one.

The down side is that it is likely to go for a fair amount of money. However, in this case, it is being sold for a good cause. Apparently the money raised will be used in the restoration of a 1950s Eastern National bus (I don’t know which one, though).

Bus Conductor’s Winter Uniform

After many years of searching, I am now the proud owner of a genuine bus conductor’s winter uniform. These appear to be as rare as hen’s teeth and this one was listed on Ebay last week. Although it carries no clear identification, it was described as a Western National uniform from the 1960s. This turns out to be correct, because I found several old Western National bus tickets in the jacket pockets!

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