FROM LONDON TO L
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END BY MOTORBUS.
SO GREAT has been the advance of the motor omnibus that the motorcar owner to-day is not to such a large extent. the envy of less fortunate mortals, who, until recently, had to depend solely on railways for journeys of any magnitude, but who can now travel by road equally as well and at very little cost, and so obtain a far more intimate knowledge of the beauties of the country. Having experienced the pleasures of an extensive bus journey in the summer through industrial England (an historic run from London to Scotland recorded in the issues of The Commercial Motor of August 7th and 14th) we decided to undertake a long autumnal trip, arid this time we'were accompanied bya lady and her champion greyhound,
Fire Water," who, we might add, followed the various buses we had occasion to use for the greater part of the journey, and so added another success to his recent championship win at the Crystal According to prearranged schedule the first day's objective was Bournemouth, a journey which, when we state that our starting point was the Crown Inn, Hornchurch, might well be considered by many impossible of achievement in the course of a single day by vehicles running on regular service.. The run was actually accomplished by us, however, in a more or less leisurely style, and it must surely be some-thing in the nature of a record to be able to travel 122 miles in one day on the recognized bus routes of the country. The journey westward was started on a familiar " General" bus, which conveyed us through Romford to Stratford Broadway, where we changed buses for our journey through the east-end of London.
At Aldgate there was a considerable congestion of .traffic and we found it to be caused by the "hay market," which was being held, and which, as is well known, is carried on in the centre of the main thoroughfare. Why the L.C.O. authorities still permit this traditional market to be held in the main street is somewhat of a mystery, since it is responsible for inconveniencing and delaying road travellers.
The journey through London from north-east to south-west brought vividly home to our minds the
great value of thP services run by the L.G.O.Co. to the vast numbers af workers in the Metropolis and also to visitors to town, who cansee practically all the well-blown buildings and finest points of interest from the top of a " General " bus during a tour through the city. In two further stages we arrived at Hounslow, where the first run in open country was really commenced. At Egham we were met by an Aldershot and District Traction Co.'s double-decker bus mounted on a Leyland chassis, which carried us to Aldershot. This route, through Sunningdale and Virginia Water, is said to be one of the prettiest routes over which the company'g buses run, and, furthermore, the most popular, as in the summer it is often necessary, to augment the service by the use of, three or four extra !onuses.
It is worthy of mention that the Aldershot and District Traction Co. have the exclusive rights of bus transport over the military roads of Farnborough and Aldershot, and in consequence a considerable revenue is obtained from the large, numbers of troops which ar6.stationed in these districts all the year round.
At Aldershot we were courteously shown over the garage and new offices of the A. and D.T. Co. by Mr. J. Robart, the enterprising secretary of the company. The company run a fleet of 78 vehicles, 47 Daimler buses and 31 Dennis buses, mostly of the saloon type, which are employed over a large number of routes. On the company's latest-type Daimler saloon buses the bodies are fitted with roll top roofs, the use of which greatly adds to the comfort of the passengers in the hot, summer months. At present the A. and D.T. Co. run certain buses to Bognor in connection with some of the vehicles run by the Southdown Motor Services Co., but next season the company hope to maintain a service right through to Bognor, and thus enable passengers from London to reach this popular seaside resort with one change—i.e., at Egham. From Aldershot to Winchester is the best paying route of this company's network of services, as many market towns and villages are served, and all the year round the buses are running with practically their full complement of passengers. We were particularly impressed with the spirit of camaraderie which appears to exist among the em ployees of the Aldershot and District 'Praction Co. This can be accounted for by the fact that considerable interest and attention are given to the social side of life. A strong athletic club has been formed, which runs a cricket and a football team, and during the winter months organizes whist-drives, dances, etc. All the employees contribute the sum of 2d. a week towards the club funds, and it is the proud boast of the committee that the club has never been in debt, and, furthermore, that it has purchased by means of this fund its own sports ground.
At the ancient capital of England we .parted company with the A. and D.T. Co., and, being of an inquiring turn of mind, we decided to test the truth of the old custom of free bread and beer known as the Wayfarer's Dole. This custom, which dates back to King Stephen's time, provides for free distribution of bread and beer for each person who demands it from the porter at Beaufort Tower. The number of persons entitled to this, .however, is limited to 30 daily, but as we did not arrive at the tower until 5 p.m. we were unable to testify to the quality of the gifts, although we had the satisfaction of proving the truth of the tradition.
The trip from Southampton to Bournemouth on a Hants and Dorset bus completed the first day's run. From Southampton the route was through the heart of the New Forest via Lyndhurst and Brockenburst to Lymington, where we changed both driver and conductor, and during the remainder of the journey to Bournemouth obtained much information and heard a deal of humour.
There were only two other persons besides ourselves on the bus, but we can say, however, from particulars given us by Mr. Webber, the secretary of the aunts and Dorset Motor Bus Co., that this route is a particularly paying one, for in the summer months it is difficult to place sufficient vehicles on the route to meet the demands of road travellers to the Forest.
In Bournemouth we obtained some very interesting facts relating to the fare charges on the tramways and on the buses. Both the tram and bus termini are in the main square of the town, and from this point to Christchurch the fare by tramcar is 6d., whilst by motorbus it is 9d. The remarkable difference in the fares is not, however, in any way
H to do with the policy of the ants and Dorset Bus Co., but to a condition laid down by the Bournemouth Corporation, which, incidentally, operates and controls the tramway system,. when granting licences. Further, it may be pointed out that, although the buses are permitted, according to their licences, to ply for hire in the town, they are not supposed to pick up passengers when travelling over the tramcar routes, but only on those roads where the trams do not operate.
The bus on which we were travelling stopped just beyond the tramcar terminus at Christchurch and followed the tram route about two-thirds of the way into the town and did not stop until we turned oft to the •right, where we p:cked up a few passengers. The.surprising point of it all is that after traversing one or two side streets we were back on the tramway route again. The imposition of a condition which compels the bus company to charge fares which are 50.; per cent, higher than those charged on the tramcars is surely somewhat unjust. At 9.40 p.m., after 13 hours' actual bus travelling, we arrived at Bournemouth, having achieved what at first seemed impossible—a 122-mile run in the day. How did our four-legged companion "Fire Water " fare? Except for a lift through .London and another during the evening through. the New Forest he had jogged along comfortably, and did not appear to be in .anyway fatigued.after his first day's travel.
• When we set out from Bournemouth at 10.30 a.m. on our second day's run . the weather rivalled the best that mid-summer can give. During the hones journey to Wareham we Passed through some very pretty and interesting country. At the top of View Road (very appropriately named), just outside Bournemouth, a lovely panorama of Poole presented itself. Through Poole along the main Wareham road to Upton House, which is well known in connection with the famous Tichborne case, we passed through the Westbourne County Gate into Dorsetshire.
About 3-3/4 miles from Wareham the Seath Naval Cordite Works are situated, and in connection with this factory we heard of a very good example of • how very keen motorbus companies are to meet the requirements of the general public. At one time no workman's tickets were issued on the buses which passed the works, but immediately some of the workers at the Neath factory drew the attention of the Hants and Dorset Motor Bus Co. to the matter the company not only issued special tickets, but also put on a special bus for the benefit of the men, and so to-day the employees can travel from Wareham to the factory, a distance of 3i miles, for the low weekly (six days) return fare of 2s. This fare is, however, ed. per week more than that charged on the railway over the same journey, but because the bus leaves the centre of the town at Wareham and runs right up to the gates of the factory at Neah, it saves the men a mile's walk at either end, which
• undoubtedly justifies the extra charge of 6d.= From Wareham our route was via Wool, Ower-, imoigne and Upwey to Weymouth, and then through Upwey again to Winterbourne Abbas, Askerswell and Bridport. It will be seen, therefore, that it is possible to break the journey at Upwey and pick up the Weymouth-Bridportbus there instead of run • ning into Weymouth. We, however, continued our
• trip into Weymouth and found that it was well worth while, if only for 'the opportunity it provided . ' of -viewing the surrounding country from the top of Ridgeway, which is only a few miles outside the town on the road to BridPort. These two routeSWeyraouth to Warehain;Ware` ham to Bridp-ortare-, operated by the National , Omnibus and Transport CO., who, we must say, run , a particularly cornforta,bletype of bus, in which ..a • saloon body is mounted on an A.E.C. chassis.A special compartment for smokers is not included in the design of the body,' although in the 'fear seats smoking is permitted-. These seats, which run longitudinally, provide seating for more passengers than is usual on the type of bus with a divided smoking compartment and are particularly comfortable. Two luggage racks are fitted above these seats and, as can be imagined, they prove exceedingly useful to travellers in rural areas. It is a remarkable fact that this was the only occasion on which we came across 6. bus fitted with this type of luggage
At Bridport we were conveyed by a real old-type London National bus on a Dennis chassis The exact age of this vehicle we were unable to ascertain, but its engine still pulls exceedingly well, and the climb up Chidoch, which it tackles regularly with its average gradient of 1 in 7, and in places of 1. in 5, is worthy of Ca .ention, whilst the gradient which it climbs up to the point overlooking Lyme Regis and also the climb out of the town itself would do credit to many vehicles of much later birth. The mechanical efficiency of the bus does much credit to its owners.
Over some of these popular routes there are, as can be readily understood, several bus concerns operating in opposition, and most. of them charge fares which are lower than those charged by the National Co. For example from Morcombelake to Charmouth, a distance of 2f miles, the National fare is 5d., while the fare on the opposition buses is 3d., so it is generally expected that soon the National will have to lower their fare to fall in line with the other im`ners. However, it is a question whether it is possible for any company to show a satisfactory profit all the year round over these country runs when their fares are only a fraction over Id. per passenger per mile.
After half an hour's journey in the dark from Lyme Regis we arrived at Axminster, where we made the old Bell Inn our headquarters for the night. In our next issue we will pick up the threads of the story at this point and continue the journey 'through to Land's End.