Monday 12 May 2014

40 Years but Celebrating only 12.

In Rotherham.

Whilst fbb and Mrs where whizzing Glasgow-wards c/o nice Mr Branson (15 minutes late, the train; Mr B was not on board!) great and joyous celebrations were being held here ...
... at First's depot, Midland Road Rotherham. With "heritage" buses from the historic Chantry Bridge ...
A document of 1385 refers to Bridgegate in the town, which implies that a previous bridge existed on the same site. The road it carries was originally the main route from London and Mansfield to Barnsley, Halifax and Richmond. The current bridge was erected by 1483, when the Chapel of Our Lady of Rotherham Bridge was added. It is of ashlar sandstone and is built on three piers, each with a cutwater.

John Leland, writing around 1540, described a "fair Stone Bridge of iiii arches" and "a Chapel of Stone well wrought". The chapel was dissolved in 1547 and converted into first an almshouse, then the town gaol and finally a shop. The bridge was altered in 1768/69 by John Platt, working for John Carr of York, but was restored to its original dimensions by Reginald Blomfield in 1927, when Chantry Bridge was built alongside. The chapel was restored at the same time.

 ... and a similar link to the South Yorkshire Transport Museum, it was a day for the "hairies". On 1st April 1974, South Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive took over the bus operations of three former municipalities (Sheffield, Rotherham and Doncaster). In 1986 the government of the day required that local authorities divest themselves of bus services, so the short-lived PTE operation became "South Yorkshire's Transport", then "SYT"; privatised by management (and staff) buy-out as "Mainline" and then corporate-ised as "First".

Thus 2014 marks 40 years of the PTE (which still exists, of course) of which only a modest 12 (plus) were as a bus operator.

One of the first jobs was to create an identity and devise a livery. Initial efforts were ...
... erm, "interesting". Skirt and roof were "coffee", very much a latté, although we had never heart of the label back then. The logo was a hand painted South Yorkshire  in the county colours of purple and green and in an angular font. Rumour at the time was that the sign-writer couldn't do curves! It looked, well, amateur and unfinished.
An attempt to "make it better" by painting a thin black line between weak coffee and cream was equally ineffective.

Even with a darker shade of coffee, the logo was poor.
Experiments continued with an even darker coffee shade (right) ...
... and (later) with more coffee.
Eventually a brown "SY" intertwined logo was "designed" and applied to the front side panels between the decks, with South Yorkshire Transport in full above the skirt.
This became standard despite some dalliance with a cream roof. Other adornments were tried. For a while a South Yorkshire county roundel, (using the elements below but in a circle) was applied to the door pillar (just visible in the above picture).
Equally short-lived was the use of the South Yorkshire county coat of arms ...
... seen is this, one of the grottiest of fbb's ancient slide scans.

The livery was at its worst on single deck coaches, ...
... strange on an ex Rotherham single decker ...
... and even wierder on a forward entrance Daimler taken over from one of Donny's many independents.
But we got used to it.

And so to last Saturday at Midland Road where Darren Sentance ...
... and his merry crew of bus painters has been "at it again"!! To join the two heritage Sheffield buses, one Rotherham and one Doncaster, Darren has created the perfect PTE clone using ...
... YN58 ETR.
And it looks better than either Barbie or the new First livery! A little bird tells fbb that it even has PTE brown material on the seats, sensibly expunging First corporate. Note also it carries the final version of the PTE logo, undoubtedly an improvement over the first rather weedy style. fbb has posted a large picture; so click on the beauty to enlarge.

And Rotherham becomes newsworthy in a "future public transport policy" sort of way on this very day. fbb will blog tomorrow. 

 Next Bus Blog : Tuesday 13th May 


  1. While there were a small number of forward entrance Daimlers from independents, the one illustrated is one of Doncaster's home grown ones, over which much coffee had been spilled.
    The full set of heritage liveries were lined up at Rotherham on Saturday, together with a good display of Sheffield's fabled bus to lorry conversions - one in brand new First livery.
    Enjoy your holiday, and don't be a Largs lout.

    1. no it was an ex rotherham corporation one of two purchased 169/170

  2. Thanks for correction, anon. I did wonder but could not remember such vehicles in Donny red. Didn't go that often after marriage in '73!

  3. The 'more coffee' version was confined to the single Fleetline illustrated - it was not considered a success! The County Council was abolished by Thatcher in c1983 thereby eliminating the coat of arms.