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!

Christmas Park and Ride duties

OK, so Christmas was several weeks ago but I think I can just about get away with a Christmas-related post!

For people like me, who only work on buses part time (and then only during the tourist season) the winter months are like a drought. No heritage bus activity and, apart from the annual Christmas meal, no contact with my bus colleagues.

So you can imagine that a regular winter duty helps to break up the long wait before the new season begins. This was the case until a couple of years ago. Quantock Motor Services were contracted by the local Council to run a park and ride service for Christmas shoppers, using heritage buses. The route went from the Blackbrook estate (near the motorway junction) into the centre of Taunton and ran annually until 2008, when a purpose-built Park and Ride Car Park was completed. A year-round bus service was tendered and Quantock’s fleet was no longer needed.

Those of us that crewed the vehicles (usually 6 ran all day) really enjoyed the challenge of running a ‘proper’ bus service, with 10 minutes separation, throughout the day. We ran this service on the five Saturdays leading up to Christmas, although I didn’t ever do all five due to other committments. Fares were only 50p – a bargain – but no bus passes were valid. You’d be surprised how many older folk begrudged having to part with 50p when they found they couldn’t use their passes!

We used a variety of vintage vehicles on the service. Open platform as well as front entrance double deckers, single deck buses and coaches but definitely no open toppers! I’m pictured above on the platform of an ex-Stockport Corporation Leyland PD2 during the first occasion I conducted on this service. This was before I managed to find a genuine Tilling Group winter uniform and, dressed in a lightweight jacket, I sometimes f-f-froze on that open platform!

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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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