45 Years in the West Country Bus Business
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A FAMILIAR sight on
the Teignmouth road are the yellow and grey Bedford buses of Messrs. H. D. Gourd and Sons, Bishopsteignton. As long as 45 years ago, Harold D. Gourd commenced running a horsed wagon between Bishopsteigntou and Teignmouth, South Devon, conveying both passengers and goods. He acquired the first motorbus in the district in 1914 — the Daimler 14-seater shown in an accompanying picture—and remained for many years the pioneer motorbus operator in the district.
The motorbus service was suspended during the 1914-18 war while Mr. Gourd spent several years in France. His wife carried on the business, driving the horsed bus, but after the war the Daimler was brought out again.
Difficulties were experienced in acquiring new vehicles for expanding the service, hut in 1920 he obtained two 1-tonners which, later, were replaced by Chevrolets. Even then " maintenance was not easy, and Mr. Gourd with his characteristic enterprise actually, on one occasion, cut some phosphor-bronze bearings out of the solid—and on a foot lathe at that.
All Mr. Gourd's sons became drivers of his buses and so the title of the firm was changed to Messrs. H. D. Gourd and Sons. In 1931, the first Bedford was purchased and since then all new vehicles have been Bedfords. The original Bedford is still in service, having done well over 150.000 miles without a rebore, the engine having been fitted with Cords piston rings.
There is no doubt that Mr. Gourd's willingness literally to go out of his way to oblige his patrons built up for him a goodwill which stood him in good stead when competition began. Since the 1914-18 war, Mr. Gourd has had to contend with considerable competition. Various other private owners who encroached on his routes were either bought out by Mr. Gourd or soon abandoned their attempts, although Mr. Gourd did not cut his fares_
The principal difficulty came early in the 1920s when a big company began
running buses from Newton Abbot to Teignmouth over most of Mr. Gourd's routes. The Traffic Commissioners proved a mixed blessing, for whilst they prevented the big company from going up into the village of Bishopsteignton .(about one mile from. their main Newton Abbot-Teignmouth route) they also stopped some of the facilities that had done much to build up the good name of Gourd.
For instance, no longer could his 12 o'clock bus wait until 1215 p.m. for a regular customer delayed at the barber's, and again, when the bus left the main road it now had to follow a fixed route through Bishopsteignton, instead of pottering about the village delivering passengers to their respective doors. To this day, however, the people of Bishopsteignton rely on Mr. Gourd to do their shopping for them, which the buses bring home.
To-day, Gourd's buses run on two routes. One from Bishopsteignton to Teignmouth connects also the outlying dis,tricts of this popular seaside resort with its own shops and sea front: and the other from Bishopsteignton to the important market town of Newton Abbot. Each of the routes is about three miles long; there are four buses each way daily on the Newton Abbot route, and 15 each way on the Teignmouth route, on which the service interval varies from 15 to 110 minutes.
The bus fleet comprises four Bedford 20-seaters, the interior appointments giving a high standard of comfort. There is also a taxi and a Bedford van (Top) Mr. Gourd's first bus, based on a 1906 Daimler chassis, which was put into service in 1914. (Left) One of the Bedford 20seaters photographed at the Teignmauth terminus. ( Below) One of the latest Bedfords—also a 20-seater —about to leave for
the business in parcels carryiug having grown too much for the buses alone to cope with. Mr. Gourd has, since his horsed-bus days, had a parcels-carrying contract with the G.W. Railway.
The war has brought the sarne difficulties to the firm of Gourd as to other operators in reception areas, for they have had to cope with a "summer" population on a " winter " petrol ration. The Bedfords' have stood op well to the strain of overloading, although it has been necessary to put extra leaves into the springs. Some of the streets in Bishopsteignton, which are covered by the bus routes, have a gradient of 1 in 5.
All maintenance and overhauls are carried out in the Radway Garages, Bishopsteignton, the headquarters of Messrs'. H. D. Gourd and Sons, under the supervision of Mr. Douglas Gourd. one of the " and Sons."