Monday 31 October 2016

Young Mr Grace Is Impressed (3) ...

Minutiae Glee for fbb!
fbb had forgotten that West Wight Motors ran bus routes.
But in the Isle of Wight Bus Museum, not well explained, was an old bus stop timetable board showing the service between Freshwater and Yarmouth.
A real blast from the past.

Hung around one of the "back rooms" were examples of all sorts of uniform tops.
And there are many racks of photographs, some showing Southern Vectis senior staff but in the bloom of youth; but pictures like that would be too embarrassing to republish here.

But what are these?
Back n the year when, most buses belonging to the Tilling group of companies used metal fleet numbers. Then the fashion changed to transfer printing, presumably this being cheaper that casting little metal plaques. But this is not a complete set, some are missing.

Where, for example is 563?
The bus that bore that number definitely had transfers fixed; its "number" plate was removed. But hang on a tick. 563 is a bus in the museum; owned by enthusiast Richard Newman. And here it is ....
... complete with cast plate. Richard, stickler for accuracy that he is, has restored the original (?) to its rightful place!

Coach Tours were, for a long time, a massive feature of the Island's public transport business. "Round the Island" was the most popular, but "Carisbooke and Godshill" and "Evenng Mystery Tours" were also run at various times plus many many more.

This era is illustrated by Southern Vectis advertising boards a-plenty, but also by recreated bppkong office displays; here for Moss Motors ...
... and Paul's Tours.
These little cameos are  a delightful accompaniment for the coaches on display.

fbb's fondest memories are for Seaview Services based near his former Island home.
The company also ran a bus service between Seaview and Ryde and, post deregulation, expanded to operate to Sandown and locally in Ryde to Haylands. There are unconfirmed reports that this incursion into Southern Vectis "territory" led to physical violence between the two bosses at a coach owners social event.

The bus stops along the Seaview sea front changed from unadorned green to branded red.
And green and red livery gave way to all over red.
Peace was ultimately restored when the company retreated to its core service and bought two second hand Vectis buses to run it.
The bus service eventually passed to "The Vectis" but, with the closure of holiday camps, Seaview's old route is no longer served.


But fbb does remember a hand-turned departure clock on the Seafield Road depot; and ...
... there it is in the museum. Wonderful! The company moved to Sandown and the old depot was demolished and flats replaced it. here it is in the throes of its disappearing act.
And here is what it is now.
The coaching business, however, still trades.
And so to Paris!

Robert Jowett's Paris bus is enhanced by a display of route boards, the predecessor of destination blinds.
there is also an ancient Paris bus stop.
A similar style was maintained for many years and can still be seen around the city.
Stops with electronic displays are now "de rigueur" but it is good to be reminded of days gone by.

Chatting to the (volunteer) staff was a revelation; they expressed great delight at the number of families visiting for enjoyment and not just because dad was a bus nut. Little (?) fbb would have been even more excited if he had been able to climb into the cab of a huuuge bus when he was nobbut a lad!

As with the buses, there is much, much more to see.

The Museum has a "committee room" but it serves a double purpose. When the museum is open it provides an activity space for younger children ...
... and during fbb's transient visit, there were some using it!

On the table in the foreground was a cardboard road layout kit along which could be driven model buses. A simple but effective toy which could be developed further. Beyond the play tables were two other cameo reconstructions. An inspectors' office and a good old-fashioned travel office are there.
heritage (a k a "old") leaflets, phone and mysterious machine
plus shelves for lost property (far right)

But visitors might not know this as these office representations are not labelled. If fbb did have a concern about this excellent museum, it would be the inadequate labelling of many of the exhibits. An FLF is a fine bus beast, but what does FLF mean? The wonderful selection of "stuff" could be lifted to the level of "superb" if the clientele had better information.

But fbb has left the best until last. Three publications found their way into the old man's clammy and shaking hands over the weekend and they can only be described by one word ...


More tomorrow!

 Next museum blog : Tuesday 1st November 

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