logo - Join me in the 1900s mid C20th
The webmaster, Pat Cryer, as a young child

Bus drivers in 1940s
and 1950s England

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When I was growing up in 1940s and 1950s London, every bus had a driver and a conductor.

The driver was set apart in his own front cubicle, separated from everyone else by a glass window.

Most of my memories are of the drivers being men, but during the Second World War (ie until I was 5 years old) they were mainly women because young and fit men were away in the army, navy or air force.

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Stopping and starting a bus

The skill of the drivers

It is tricky for a driver of today to drive these old buses because every gear change requires double de-clutching. It is a tribute to the skill of the old drivers that the passengers' rides were so smooth.

Staff at Brooklands Bus Museum

Bus drivers knew their routes well.

There were two types of bus stops. Drivers would always stop at regular bus stops and would stop at the other stops when requested to do so. These other stops were, understandably enough, known as request stops.

Push button inside an old London bus requesting the bus driver to stop

Push button inside a bus requesting the bus driver to stop. Photographed at Brooklands Bus Museum.

The request to stop at at a request stop was given from inside the bus by a passenger giving a single ding on one of the bells.

The request was given by someone waiting outside the bus by holding an outstretched arm - see the photo on the waiting for a bus page.

The driver started the bus again when he heard the conductor give a double ding on the bell.

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Driving the 'new' Routemaster buses

Although I understand that the famous Routemaster buses were developed in the 1950s, they did not come to Edgware, where I lived until the early 1960s.

It took the drivers a while to get used to the automatic transmission - or perhaps the transmission had not been tuned properly. Either way, the journeys were punctuated with serious jolts as the engines changed gear automatically. We passengers were repeatedly thrown violently all over the place. It couldn't be allowed to continue and fortunately it didn't for long.

If you can add anything to this page or provide a photo, I would be pleased to hear from you.

Pat Cryer, webmaster

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This website Join me in the 1900s is a contribution to the social history of everyday life in 20th century Britain from the early 1900s to about 1960, seen through personal recollections and illustrations, with the emphasis on what it was like to live in those times.