TICKET TO RIDE
By Ann Evans
Photos by Rob Tysall of Tysall’s Photography
No one seemed to mind hanging about waiting for a bus last Sunday. In fact the bus was the thing they’d come to see. Crowds of bus enthusiasts flocked to the Heritage Motor Centre, Gaydon, Warwickshire for the 5th annual Buses Festival, organised by Key Publishing, and sponsored by TTC Diecast which we featured last week on these pages.
I always think it’s nice to follow up events that we report on, so photographer, Rob Tysall and I went along to enjoy the day for ourselves.
I guess, the thing for lots of people is the nostalgic element. And as we wandered around the rows and rows of vehicles, and the stands selling scaled diecast models of buses and coaches, I wondered just what memories were being re-lived by all the people there.
Probably not everyone’s memories of this mode of public transport are ones of joy. Thinking back to my childhood memories, I remember standing with my dad when I was about five, huddled inside his overcoat at a draughty, windswept, rain lashed bus stop waiting for the number 18 or 18A to take us home.
And I wonder who else remembers going upstairs on the bus to find themselves walking into a cloud of choking cigarette smoke? The smell of tobacco mingling with the smell of workmen’s oily clothes as they made their way home from another hard day’s work at the factories? Of course that was in the days when we had lots of factories.
Memories such as these came flooding back when meandered through this collection of old buses. Some of them, I hasten to say, were way before my time. But then you can’t help but think of grandparents and great grandparents catching these buses particularly during the difficult times of war.
When buses were the main form of transport, as I remember it, there was generally lots of chit-chatting going on, as conversations would spring up between virtual strangers.
Photographer Rob recalled a particular bus journey home from Rugby town centre with his mum when he was a little lad of seven. He said, “I’d just bought a mouse from a pet shop, and I wanted to call it Killer. Mum wasn’t keen on that for some reason! Our conversation caught the attention of the passengers and after quite some debate the general consensus of the entire bus load of passengers was my pet was to be called Snowy!”
I’m sure there must have been lots of nostalgic reminiscences going on last Sunday. And probably lots of chat about engines, hydraulics and restoration; and long journeys to coach stations such as Cheltenham, Chester le Street and Victoria of course. Happy memories of visiting relatives and holidays by the seaside.
There were opportunities for the visitors to take a bus ride around the museum’s grounds and further afield to nearby villages, and while the passengers didn’t face the problem of people smoking on board, they still had the joy of queuing in the rain, as the heavens opened and the rain came down.
There was plenty going on inside the museum with trade stands selling lots of bus related artefacts such as old ticket machines, actual metal bus stop signs, books about buses, timetables, framed photographs and thousands of boxed and unboxed scaled diecast models for those of us who don’t actually own a full sized bus.
Many of the vehicles on display had been lovingly restored to their former glory by private owners and museums, keeping alive a part our history, for us to enjoy – and for younger generations to discover. Plus of course, the story continues with new buses and coaches continually on the scene, allowing us to travel to the far corners of the world – building new memories for the future.