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The webmaster, Pat Cryer, as a young child

Bus tickets in
1940s and 50s London

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The bus tickets that I best remember are those from when I was a young child in the 1940s. By the 1950s, I was old enough to travel quite long distances on my bicycle, which I used in preference to buses because it was free and did not tie me to a timetable.



Bus ticket racks

The 1940s tickets were on rack which the bus conductor carried, and they were held in place with springs as shown in the photographs.

London bus tickets as used on London buses during and just after World War Two.

A rack of bus tickets as held by bus conductors on London buses during and just after World War Two. Note the old money marked on the tickets, with their fares ranging from 1 old penny to 7 old pennies. Also note the spring fasteners that kept the tickets in place while enabling the conductor to pull out a single ticket easily for each passenger.

Photographed in the London Transport Museum.

Small rack of bus tickets as used on rural buses during and just after World War Two.

Smaller ticket rack for use on short journeys. Photographed in London Bus Museum at Brooklands.

Each denomination of bus ticket was of a different colour and had various destinations and fare stages printed on.

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Validated bus tickets, ticket inspectors and breakdowns

Tickets had to be kept carefully until the end of the journey.

One reason was that every so often a ticket inspector would board the bus at a bus stop along the route and check everyone's ticket.

Tram tickets

The ticket system for trams was identical to that on buses.

Mike Wheale

Front of a used 1940s London bus ticket, showing its price and a punch hole indicating the bus stop where the passenger must get off Back of a used 1940s London bus ticket, showing its price and a punch hole indicating the bus stop where the passenger must get off

Front and back of a used 1940s London bus ticket showing its price and a punch hole indicating the bus stop where the passenger must get off. Courtesy of Francis Duck.

An unofficial use for used tickets

As lads at that time we used to raid the used ticket box on the rear platform of buses to obtain more tickets for our used ticket collections.

Barry Davis

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

Pat Cryer
webmaster

Another reason was that buses often broke down, which I suppose was due to the lack of availability of parts during the shortages of the war and the years of austerity afterwards. When this happened, all the passengers had to crowd out to wait for the next bus to come along. Then they had to show their tickets to the new conductor in order to avoid double payment.

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Paying the right fare for a bus ticket

Grid displayed on London buses in the mid 1900s howing 'fare stages' between bus stops

Grid showing 'fare stages' between bus stops.

Passengers had some check on the fare they should be paying because a grid showing 'fare stages' between bus stops was displayed in the bus, usually above the luggage hold. Fare stages were usually between fairly well-used bus stops.

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Changes to Bus tickets in the 1960s

Some years after the war a new type of bus ticket was introduced. The paper was on a roll and tickets were printed specially for each customer's journey. The bus conductor had the machine round his neck and shoulders and operated it with a handle. Out popped the ticket which he tore off and gave to the passenger. These tickets were old on the buses during journeys, just as the earlier style tickets had been.

Machine for printing bus tickets, carried over shoulders by bus conductors, UK, 1960s

Machine for printing bus tickets, carried over shoulders by bus conductors, 1960s.

Drivers selling bus tickets from their driving seats as passengers got onto a bus was years away. When it came, it must have saved money for the bus companies because one one person rather than two were required to staff each bus.

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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.