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Old Buses

written by Chris Kennett

Had you wanted to catch a bus from Amersham Underground Station on a Sunday recently, what a choice there was. Assembled in the car park was a gleaming array of historic vehicles up to 56 years old, resplendent of red, green and even gold. The day marked 70th Anniversary of London Transport taking over and renumbering all the routes formally operated by Amersham & District providing the theme for the local motor bus Society's annual rally, a rare opportunity to ride on many single and double-decker buses that once served towns and villages in the surrounding areas.

Visitors were given a detailed timetable that recreated many of the routes operating in 1934. They could then plan their day by choosing which buses to take to a variety of destinations.

I boarded a 26 seater Guy Special single decker for the short but steep uphill to nearby Ley Hill on the outskirts of Chesham. The GS was the predecessor to today's midi-buses and was used for the difficult country routes of narrow, twisting lanes where passenger traffic was fairly light. Its attractive front end is similar to that of the contemporary medium sized Fordson Thames Truck.

Old Buses
This is the bus that Chris Kennett travelled on to Ley Hill

I was pleasantly greeted by a smartly uniformed bus conductor, complete with leather money satchel full of old pennies and threepenny bits. He deftly turned the handle of the old Gibson ticket machine to present me with a souvenir ticket.

Upon my return, it was then on to Rickmansworth on one of the few remaining RLH low bridge double-deckers dating back to 1952. These buses are noted for an abundance of signs throughout their interior carrying the warning: Caution low roof, but how many passengers forgot this when getting up from their seat.

Old Buses
This is the bus that Chris Kennett travelled on to Rickmansworth, this photo was taken at an earlier Amersham & District Rally.

Upstairs, an unusual sunken gangway running the length of the upper deck alongside spacious bench seats each accommodating four passengers.

It was interesting to study the replica Fares Table displayed on the lower deck. This was dated 1961 and event he longest journey in those days would cost no more than about three shillings. Also of note were the printed advertisements above each window; one for 1963 cinema screening of 'Carry on Cleo' the funniest film since 54BC at the ABC Staines, and alongside this was a London Transport advertisement for a seven shilling Green Rover ticket allowing unlimited travel on London's country buses - the 1960's equivalent of today's Travelcards.