Thursday 23 April 2020

Sixty After Sixty (1)

In 1960 fbb was just 15 and starting in Lower Sixth at Northampton Grammar School studying (in the broadest sense of the word) Eng Lit, Fr and Econ at "A" level and having a second go at Lat "O" Level. His "commute" to school was c/o York Bos of Cogenhoe (pronounced Cook - No) but on Sundays it was the 2.08 pm service 404 to Derngate Bus Station for a short walk to Castilian Street and Crusaders Bible Class, that met in the Liberal Club.

York's timetable never changed but fbb kept a copy of the United Counties book in the dresser drawer at home. Recently a correspondent was kind enough to give fbb a copy.
The badges are those of the Counties which the company "united" with its geographically wide-ranging services.
It was, of course, the "official" timetable, including Luton and District which had maintained some sort of nominal independence. Luton Corporation bus company was absorbed in 1970.
There is a list of depots and offices, each with their phone number.
Try finding a bus depot number these days - perhaps to seek advice on a "missing" bus!

Next comes a complete list of the company's routes in numerical order.
These run from 1 (Luton to Leagrave) to 446 (Rushden Town Service) and were grouped geographically as follows:-

1 to 66 - Luton and Hitchin
101 to 197 - Bedford and Biggleswade
211 to 295 - Kettering and Huntingdon
302 to 399 - Northampton and Aylesbury
401 to 446 - Wellingborough

As Milton Keynes developed, services began by being numbered in an MK series but then were all included in a new 500s group.

Coach Services were X1 to X32 which included numerous summer services to  east and south coast seaside towns. 

After the numerical series comes a massive 17 page alphabetical index ...
... of places served, running from Abbotsley to Yelden and fbb had to look up both! Abbotsley is near St Neots ...
... and Yelden, which seems to now be called Yielden according to Streetmap is just outside Rushden.
Sixty years later, both still have a bus service, but our readers will have to wait until tomorrow's blog for further information. Exciting eh?

Next in the encylopaedia of excitement we have a list of Parcel Agents. There are two and a half pages of them. The agent for Abbotsley is the Eight Bells pub ...
... and it's still there; but unlikely to be willing to accept parcels to anywhere by any means!
Presumably someone in Badby would know where to find Mrs Shaw, or your parcel dispatch might involve aimlessly wandering the picturesque byways of Badby clutching your birthday gift for Ada Miggins in nearby Daventry.
Yelden/Yielden did not have a parcels agent!

But there's more!

Early Closing Day (column 1 below) used to be an important consideration for bus-using shoppers - no point in going into town if all the shops are shut.

Likewise Market Days (column 2) were a regular feature of bus services with extra journeys run on the appropriate days. The lists are, oddly enhanced by each community's population (column 3).
Most of the locations have grown in fifty years. Milton Bryant (a k a Milton Bryan) has increased from 183 to 200 (2011 census).

In the past, fbb has looked at timetable books produced by (e.g.) local printers - so not "official" presumably. These are made financially viable by advertising. United Counties' 1960 book still contains a few adverts. fbb remembers Lants drinks ...
... but never purchased anything from Josephine of St Giles Street.
You do wonder how much extra business came the way of Mr Jellyman ...
... as a result of a whole page ad in the timetable book.

fbb's favourite, however, has to be ...
... Miss Elliott. fbb's parents never went anywhere else for their domestic staff - thry never went there either! Surely this business was on the decline by 1960?

Two sections are left before the avid reader gets to the timetable pages as such. We have the mysteries of ticket inter-availability with the railways and seven (yes SEVEN) pages of closely spaced "regulations and conditions for the carriage of passengers and goods".

Bet you can't wait!

The mind boggles!

Model Railway Snippet
Tidied and ready for the re-fettled station to return.
Tree surgeon badly needed especially at the tunnel mouth!
Tracklaying gang is also at work.

 Next Sixty After Sixty blog : Friday 24th April 


  1. "Luton & District" refers to the agreement between Eastern National (before transfer to United Counties) and Luton Corporation, by which services were co-ordinated and revenue pooled to some degree in the Luton area, crucially allowing the corporation to run beyond the borough boundary.

  2. Andrew Kleissner23 April 2020 at 12:00

    Still a bit worried about that house looming over the cliff edge ...