A COMPANY OF COACHBUILDERS RUNNING BUSES AND COACHES.
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AMOST important addition to the existing motor service facilities in the Gateshead and North 'Durham districts has just been launched, after all the preliminary preparations have been carefully laid and matured. We refer to I. E. Walton and Co., Ltd., Crescent Garages, Gateshead, a progressive northern firm, who have, until now, devoted their attentions solely to automobile engineering and coachbuilding, but who have, during the past month, branched out extensively, both in regular road passenger services and in summer motor coaching work.
Established a number of years ago, the concern was, prior to being turned into a limited liability company, some two years ago, operated under the name of the Crescent Garages. The present managing director is Mr. I. E. Walton, and this latest development shows that the .company are very much alive to the requirements of the thickly populated Tyneside industrial district, which, given ordinary trading conditions, is always ready to patronize, on an extensive scale, any undertaking which can offer novel and attractive pleasure outings. This side of the business is to receive great attention during the coming summer, and the provision Of an acie9.uate motor coach fleet is already well in hand.
With regard to the passenger service side, a commencement was made during the past, month. The first daily service was put into operation over the Gateshead, Low Fell, Chester-le-Street and Durham route, the total single-journey distance being about 14 miles.
By reason of their intimate connection with the coachbuilding industry, Messrs. Walton, who, by the way, have entirely fitted out, their own fleet, have been able to put, on the road vehicles in which comfort and space have been the primary consideration. The vehicles completed to date number eight, and are built up on Dennis, Garford, Fiat and Crossley chassis. The four Dennis omnibuses provide seating capacity for 26 passengers, and are all on solid tyres. The Garferd has been constructed with a roomy 20-seater body, and has pneumatic tyres, and the remaining vehicles are also fitted with tyres of this type.
The larger buses all have rear entrances. Special attention has been given to seating, in order that plenty of leg space. may be ensured, and to this end a valuable asset in comfortable passenger travelling has been achieved. The seats are of the,restful garden type, and are arranged on each side of a central corridor, each seat holding two passengers. Spring steel' backs are fitted, and these are set at such an angle as totally to obviate any strain which attaches to the straight back seat. The seats are neatly upholstered in _red leather. Ample ventilation is provided by means of sliding plate-glass windows in Peelawat channelling, and the
eerier panelling is executed in mahogany. The roof is of polished pitchpine. Whilst, in comparison with their over-all dimensions, a certain amount of seating apace has been sacrificed in these vehicles, the company feel that the additional comfort and roominess given will appeal to the general public.
A time table will be adhered to on the daily services, and as additional vehicles are completed, new ground will be broken in the way of opening up new routes. So much for the regular services programme.
With the approach of the motor coach active season, the building up of the pleasure services fleet is being expedited, and it is expected to have on duty within a short space of time four large Daimler and Dennis coaches, one 16-seater Fiat on pneumatics, and at least two-or three other small coaches, providing accommodation for from 14 to 16 passengers. These will, of course, all be fitted with pneumatics.
Messrs. ViTalton's extensive knowledge of coachbuilding, together with theirvery clear conception of the requirements of the better class of motor coach patrons, here again stands them in good stead, and is amply demonstrated in the construction of one of these large Daimler coaches. Built on a Daimler Y-type chassis, the coach body, in their opinion, strikes a new note, so far as existing types of vehicles in the north are concerned. Here, again, seating space has been sacrificed in the interests of comfort and roominess, and te prevent that stiffness or tiredness which attends tratiolling on a coach fitted with transverse seats. Entrance is gained by a single door at the front on the near side of the coach, and the seats, which are of the garden type, and fitted and Upholstered in similar fashion to those in the omnibuses, are arranged on each side of a corridor, with the rear seat extending the full width of the vehicle. The coach provides accommodation for 25 passengers in the main body, and there is also a single seat beside the driver, making the coach a roomy 26seater. Solids are fitted, as Messrs. Walton, in common with other owners in this neighbourhood, consider them much safer and inure satisfactory than large pneumatics, in view of the roads encountered on the average run.
Attention is for the moment being concentrated on private party bookings, for which those has already been a good demand. Later in the year, however, as the additional coaches are completed, a comprehensive programme of tours will he drawn up.
The vehicles will all be housed at the garages, which extend from High Street to High West Street, Gateeheacl, and which were' completed in 1919. The main building has a clear ground space of 1,500 square yards, the total of the works and site being two acres. Adequate facilities are contained in the garages for all manner of motor omnibus and coach repairs and overhauls, whilst in an adjacent building is the coachbuilding department, in which passenger-carrying vehicles of the latest types are also being built at very competitive prices for the trade and private customers. At 13ixlienhead, en the very doorstep of Woodside Station, about 20 coaches belonging to the Birkenhead owners were out for trade. Of course, the railway companies were running excursiou trains to Chester, but, judging from the animated motor coach scenes on the course, they did not have everything their own way.
Chester is a city of very narrow streets, and even in normal times motor coaches and heavy motors have difficulty in negotiating the concealed and con gested corners. The police, therefore, diverted traffic from the central portion of the town. The Birkenhead traffic was diverted down Canal Street, while traffic along the Warrington Road was diverted Meng George Street to Canal Street. The Little Roodee was not available for the parking of vehicles during race week, but dotted about the town were numerous parking grounds. Apart from the usual garages, the Market Hall, Queen Street, and several other places were available. Drivers of coaches coming into Chester were directed by the police as to the routes they should take.' The New Brighton Motor Coach Co. had catering. arrangements on the cousse that were absolutely unique. Portable boilers having been despatched to the racecourse earlier in the day, hot soup was awaiting the arrival of passengers, followed by a four-course lunch served to passengers in the coaches. The meals were served with expedition and with excellent taste. After the principal event of the day afternoon tea was served. All the catering arrangemente were carried out in' their entirety by the New Brighten Motor Coach Co.'s own staff. The drivers, too, assisted in the serving of meals, each man supervising the arrangements of his own coach.
A New Fleet of All-weather Coaches.
THE WESTMINSTER Coaches Co. 1 are a new concern who have entered the Tanks of motor coach proprietors operating from London, and one of the features of their services which have been inaugurated is the distinctive typo of vehicle which is being employed.
It is stated that 25 vehicles are at present available. The Welke, which are of the all-weather type, can be converted so as to provide an open coach, and have been built by the Westminster Motor Trading Co., the chassis to which they are fitted being of French manufacture, emanating, as they do, from the works of the De Dion Bouton Co. Each vehicle-has accommodation for 18 paeeengers, and is fitted with interior electric lighting, whilst electric radiators are Incorporated for use in the winter months, it being intended to maintain an allsthe-year-round service with some of the vehicles.
The programme of the company includes, regular services from London to most of the seaside resorts along the southern and eastern coastlines, extending from Bournemouth in the west to Gorteeton. in the east. .
The company have also entered into a working agreement with a concern owning the Belle ettsamere, by which passengers using one form of conveyance on the outward journey may return by the other; in this way a trip to Margate may be made by river, the motor coach being relied upon for the return journey.