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Hants and Sussex recollections
THE DAY may not be far off when entrepreneurs get back to looking for opportunities to start new bus services where none exist. Changes in legislation have made it easier to set up low-cost operations reminiscent of the days before bus operation became complicated.
It is something that happened in the Twenties and Thirties, and one who tapped an unexploited market was Basil Sylvester Williams, who found that no one was running buses from West Thorney on the island that projects into the harbour at Chichester in West Sussex. When still only 20, he tried to start operations there in 1934, but this came to naught, and it was to be three years before his Hants and Sussex company began running to the island.
He developed bus services across Sussex, benefiting from wartime and post-war traffic booms, and eventually operated as far east as Horsham. But rapid expansion overstretched the business and it folded in 1956, ironically after a winding up petition lodged by a passenger whose hat and coat were stolen from the company's lost property office.
All was not lost, however, according to former Williams colleague Alan Lambert, whose Hants and Sussex (B. M. Lambert, £4.30) tells the Williams story. Rural services were built up again and operated by a new Southern Motorways company, which survives today.
B. M. Lambert, 7 Nursery Close, Emsworth, Hampshire, P010 7SP.
A Scottish love affair
THE AFFAIRS of Western SMT, one of the seven Scottish Bus Group operating companies, have long had a special place in Neil MacDonald's heart. He says so in The Western Way (Transport Publishing Company, £16 casebound, £14 paperback) and the work is based very much on a lifetime's research of the company's activities.
He traces the development of the company, from its beginnings before the First World War as a British Electric Traction offshoot to the present where it is facing the challenges of present-day operation with the aid of market analysis techniques and redrawn operating schedules. It was a period in which the company developed in many directions, first by meeting the growing demand for public transport in the Twenties and Thirties, and after the Second World War by acquiring sizeable West Of Scotland operators, the histories of which are included in the story.
MacDonald also looks at the company's changing requirements for new vehicles, and with a refreshing insight not always provided in such histories, gives some of the reasons behind decisions to buy or sell individual types of bus. A fondness for Gardner's diesel engines has been a constant thread from the early Thirties.
The history betrays its author's personal interests in the company's development, notably the affairs of the depot in his native Ayr, and some of the types of bus run in his youth. He also acknowledges the profound effect that John Sword, the company's founder, and his son William, who is still its resident SBG director, have had on the running of Western. In many ways, the book is a tribute to them as well as the company and its buses. Transport Publishing Company, 128 Pikes Lane, Glossop, Derbyshire.
Tacho guide for drivers
A REVISED edition of the very popular booklet Tachographs — a Handbook for Drivers (£2 post free) has been published by Fleet Planning.
The booklet was first published in 1980 and during the introduction of tachographs into fleets many firms used it for driver education and as the basis for training. It provides information the driver needs to know about tachographs; describes use of the instrument and how recordings are made; and gives the legal requirements and the offences and penalties. It is designed to be used in conjunction with a Driver's Pocket Check List (50 pence) on the use of the tachograph. This useful aide-memoir is sold in a plastic wallet to keep it clean. Fleet Planning, 1 Granville Court, Shipston on Stour, CV36 4PP.