Sunday 30 September 2012

Swift Nostalgia? [2]

Happy memories?

Part two of our nostalgia weekend, prompted by the gift of an old "Swift" book from a dear pal at Church.
The book, published (for children, thus ideal for fbb!) in 1960 contains some real memorabilia of the road transport industry. See also yesterdays Part 1 blog (read again).
The happy halcyon days of long distance coach travel by, for example, Royal Blue.
The caption locates this shot at Broadclyst in Devon and some devious detective work from fbb identifies the spot exactly. The coach is parked outside the Red Lion inn, near the church.
Picnic tables have replaced coach parking but, otherwise, "plus ├ža change". Delightfully, a similar vehicle is preserved today ...
... but today's refreshment stops are, somehow, less appealling.
Ironically, there has been much in the news about floods "oop north" with York being badly hit once more.
Sadly, it was ever thus. But somehow the older vehicles managed to keep going.
The bus dates from 1948, seen here in happier and less soggy times ...
...and was rebuilt as a towing wagon in 1963, surviving until about 1971.
More details (here). As a regular visitor to York fbb is frustrated because he cannot place the picture at all. The chubby one cannot remember a very low bridge in the City. Perhaps a blog reader can help?
At one point, Clifford Makins, the author of the book, introduces its readers to one man buses, with this picture of  a typical example in Wortwell, Suffolk.
fbb has been unable to discover the exact location of this picture, but this is the most likely candidate with outbuildings removed for road widening.
But here is the bus's modern equivalent, also a one man bus, operated by Anglian (aka Go-ahead) on service 580.
Little did Swift's writers and readers realise that all buses (well, nearly all) would be one man (person!) operated in the coming 50 years.
It's a bit late for Clifford Makins to issue a correction, but Wortwell in is Norfolk, not Suffolk.
fbb needs help with this one. Barton Transport ran a regular scheduled bus from Corby To Warsaw, but London to Moscow? The little book titles this as "a very modern coach that runs all the way from London to Moscow". More information would be of interest! And it's NOT the Moscow in Scotland!!
And, finally, not a public transport item, but still fascinating. Have you ever heard of the Paravan?
It was designed by and built for Essex Carriers Ltd by Dennis vehicles.
The aim was to save time (and thus money) on parcels delivery; time that was "wasted" by clambering out of a traditional lorry cab, going round to the back doors, climbing in and finding the parcel to be delivered. With this motor, you just walked in from the front. The bodywork idea didn't catch on and the odd design faded from transport history. More of the story is told on a web site (here).

The only thing left of "Essex Carriers" is a cricket team!
Founded in 1954 by the employees of Essex Carriers, a now defunct local haulage firm, we play a mixture of League and competitive yet friendly cricket against sides across Essex.
Just a selection from a 52-year-old book written for children (boys only, in those far-ff sexist days; little fbb always wanted a dolls' house but, apparently only girls were allowed such delights). With a bit of annotation, the fascination is still there.

 Next Bus Blog : Monday 1st October 


  1. I was given a copy of this splendid Swift book for a birthday present when it was published and still enjoy the occasional revisit. I don't know about Barton, but Wallace Arnold did have a service to Moscow. Somewhere in my unwieldy ephemera collection I have the timetable. Like the ingenious parcel delivery van, something that the likes of UPS could do well to look at, there are a variety of wonderful other vehicles, like the road tanker for hot chocolate.

  2. The low bridge in York was in Leeman Road near where the NRM is now. I believe it (or rather the road) was lowered around 1960 -certainly there w ere no more special vehicles for it after the Ls.

  3. And the lowness of the bridge is the reason for the non-standard destination box, rather than the more usual design that protuded above the roofline.
    Replacement vehicles were Bristol SUs of standard build.

  4. That coach in Moscow was a Ford demonstrator, which might shed some light on the picture. Couldn't possibly be hype & hyperbole? in 1960? Surely not.

  5. According to Google Streetview, the bridge at Leeman Road (near Kingsland Terrace) now has a headroom of 11' 3" - so is still quite restrictive. So if the road has been lowered since the photo was taken, it is presumably even more prone to flooding now than it was then.

    Leeman Road is probably used by more buses now that it was in 1960, being served by First 5 to Strensall every 15 minutes, Reliance 30/31 from Thirsk/Easingwold about every half hour and Transdev 24 and 26 from Askham Lane/Askham Bar to Fulford each hourly. Of course, in the blog, a photo of a bus on Transdev 24 (location unknown) immediately precedes the Bristol L negotiating the bridge. This week’s Twitter feeds from Transdev York (Yorkshire Coastliner) have been very informative about the effects of the flooding, detailing diversions on routes 20, 35 and 36 as well as complex arrangements to deal with the closure of the main river bridge in Tadcaster. However, there has been no mention of the 24 being affected - so presumably if Leeman Road bridge has been flooded again, Transdev's Solos must have coped with it manfully !

  6. Thank you all : I did consider Leeman Road, but expected the bridge to look wider! It is more of a tunnel than a bridge!

  7. fbb - that was my first thought, too. However,there are two railway bridges in Leeman Road - this is the one right at the end of Leeman Road just before it splits into Garfield Terrace and Kingsland Terrace about a mile out of the City Centre. The more well-known Leeman Road bridge is between Station Road and the NRM under the north end of the station - hence it being more of a tunnel as you say !

  8. I understand that Barton did indeed plan a service to Moscow, and possibly some journeys were operated, in the early 1960s. I had thought that Bedford VALs were used, including the rare Yeates bodied variety, but maybe other machines were (or were to have been) used as well.