PASSENGER TRAVEL NEWS.
If you've noticed an error in this article please click here to report it so we can fix it.
The Latest Doings and Developments in the Bus and Coach World
BUS SERVICES IN THE DURHAM COALFIELD AREA.
The Activities of a Large Northern Concern Who Run Close on 100 Vehicles Over 97 Miles of Routes.
NORTH-COUNTRY people who re1.1 side in the scattered, yetat the same time densely populatod, Durham coalfield area have grown so thoroughly used to the what might be termed the monotonous promptitude of the running of the buses operated by the Northern General Transport Co. on their many services, that it is questionable if one out of every hundred stop to think how seldom the services are dislocated by breakdowns; or, indeed, how the general spick-ad-span condition of the numerous vehicles is se thoroughly maintained. Without doubt,the residents are commending to realize to some degree their indebtedness to the motor omnibus industry as a means of providing comfortable and economic travelling between the scattered districts and the larger Tyneside and Wearside industrial centres, and the ever-increasing patronage extended to the Northern General services is in itself adequate demonstration of their appreciation.of the great care taken to ensure prompt running and good travelling conditions. • Cominencing in November, 1913, the Northern General Transport Co. were faced with the extremely difficult task of developing their undertaking through one of the most unsettled and arduous periods in the history of the country,' but, despite the war and the additional difficulties encountered., the enterprise of the company won through, and their organization now compares favourably -in all respects with any other undertaking in the country of a similar character. In 1913 the residents in the areas concerned were forced to rely for local passenger transport almost ,entirely. on the tramway systems of the Gateshead and District tramway Co., the Tynemouth and District Electric Traction Co., Ltd., and the Jarrow and District Electric Traction Co., Ltd,. who operate between them some 31 miles of tramways. The initial venture of the Northern General Transport Co. was the institution of a motor omnibus service which plied between the' tramway terminus of the first-named company at Low Fell and Chester-le-Street, the route then being an isolated one, which -.contrasts strangely with the present services. At that time eight vehicles were employed.
Having broken new ground, the company were not long in expanding their activities, and to-day it is now possible to travel over the company's 9'7 miles of routes in any direction. The fleet was constantly augmented by the provision of additional vehicles, as neceSsity demanded, until at present it consists of no fewer than 98 machines, the bulk of which are Daimler 40 h.p. omnibuses. All are of the single-deck type, the seating capacity of the various vehicles varying from 28 to 34 passengers. Nothing speaks quite so clearly as statistics in describing the progress of an undertak ing of any sort, and the following figures, showing the number of passengers carried annually in the buses, convey a very sound idea of the enormous extension of the company's business since their modest inauguration in the year 1914 :— Primarily, the fleet a was housed in large garages at Chester-le-Street and Stanley, from which the majority of the routes operated by the concern are worked. Each garage is fitted with underground petrol storage tanks operated on the Bowser pumping system,and, in addition, each is provided with underground tanks for the storage of cylinder, gear and cleansing oils. With the steady and ever-increasing growth of the company's business, and consequently of their fleet, the necessity for a separate repair department became imperative. Accordingly, a.site was obtained at Bensham, Gateshead, and the erection of a new department where they could centralize all repairing and overhauling work formerly accomplished at the other garages was started upon in October, 1920. The site on which this depot, which is now in full working order, stands covers two and a half acres, of which one and a half are built upon, leaving plenty of room for expansion. The whele building is heated by steam, which passes up from the boiler-house to nests of pipes. There the hot air is in-drawn to a huge pipe, which passes down the entire building, and which keeps the shops at a comfortable temperature. The building ía sub-divided into bodyrepairing shop, paint shop and machine shop, each of which is equipped with the usual power and hand machine plant. Along one side of the machine department is a very commodious store, where all interchangeable parts, such as engines, gearboxes, back axles and wheels, etc., are kept ready and available for immediate use, thereby cutting down to a minimum the time which it is necessary to keep a vehicle off the road. Overhauling bays, cleansing shops, blacksmith's shop and other .ahops, are provided, as well as two ivol-appointed messrooms for the employees, who are unable, owing to the distance at which they live front the works, to go home for their mid-day meal.
At regular periods each vehicle ía run into the Bensham repair depot for dock overhaul, when every part is carefully and systematically examined, and any necessary work is performed in order to keep the vehicles up to the high standardof efficiency upon which the company pride themselves. In addition, each vehicle is Subjected to a very thorough overhaul annually, when the engine and other mechanical components are stripped and the bodiesare renovaacd.
The body-painting shop has,aceommodation for ten .latises and the boclytre. pairing department, can house eight bodies at a time. The works are also fitted with engine-testing plant, as well as charging set e for the renewal of batteries, and there are four 3,000-gallon underground petrol storage tanks on the Bowser principle. . There are also four 500-gallon oil tanks and pumps.
In addition to the regular routes operated by the company, on Which all omnibuses run to a strict time-table all the year round, special motor coach tours, Of half-day, . day and ,the extended, variety, are worked during the summer months,, and these prop very popular with Northern' residents. The manage. meat of the company is always pre
pared to organize private pleasure tripe of any duration or distance.
The following is a list of the regular routes operated -by the /Northern General Transport Co., together with the route miles covered la3r each :—
Durham and Gateshead, via Chester-le-Street Chester-le-Street and Craghead.., 4.50
„ -Consett ... 12.30 „ • Edmondsley 5.30
Durham and Sunderland ... ... 13.30 Newcastle and Blayden ... 5.40 Stanley and Ann.
field Plain ... 17.50 „ Dipten to Conaeta 15.00 Tantobie, Stanley and Craghead 4.30 Sunderland and lizouth Shields ... 7.40 Chester-le-Street and Sunderland 9.00 Medomsley and Castleside ... 6.70