Red double-decker London bus with no doors. Detail from a screenshot of an old
The 240A bus that took me school in Mill Hill from my home in Edgware
when the weather was too bad to cycle. It was a single decker because it
had to pass under a low bridge. The council provided me - and all
school children - with a free bus pass because I lived more than 3 miles
from the school. Detail from a photograph in Brooklands Bus Museum.
Edgware, where I lived in the 1940s and early 1950s, was part of the London
Transport area. So all the buses were red. Most were double-deckers, but the
240A bus, which went between Edgware and Mill Hill East. was a single-decker because it had to pass
under a low bridge. This was the bus that I took to my second school.
Entrance to a red double-decker bus, showing the grab pole, the container for used tickets and the stairs to the top deck. Photographed at the London Transport Museum. (The no-entry sign placed by the museum has been digitally removed to represent the original appearance.)
Click for a larger image which shows
The buses had no doors, just an open platform with a vertical pole to hold onto while climbing aboard.
This meant that passengers could get on and off buses while they
were moving, which of course was recognised as unsafe. The trick for
getting off a bus before it had quite stopped was to make sure that
you were facing the direction of travel. Otherwise you would be
knocked over backwards.
The platform of the double decker buses led directly to the stairs to the
upper-deck and to the seats on the lower-deck.
Under the stairs was a space for luggage and a lockable compartment for the bus staff.
Comfort on buses
Having no closing doors and being unheated, the buses were effectively
open to the outside, letting in the cold and the
- although they were an improvement from the
buses with no roofs in my mother's
childhood of the early 1900s. In the very cold winters of 1947 and 1963, the condensation
iced up the windows, and icicles grew from the ceilings. Some were 6-8 inches
long. I don't know whether any ever broke off, but if so it would have been
perilous for anyone sitting underneath. As it was, tall passengers had to duck
as they moved to a seat.
Adverts on buses
Bus showing the 'eyes' advert for Picture Post. Photo courtesy of Peter Hambrook.
I saw a lot of buses when I was growing up because the Edgware bus
terminus was so close to where I lived. My first recollection was of the buses
like the one in the photo on the left - with the 'eyes'. Every bus
seemed to have these eyes. They were actually advertising a magazine, but, as a
young child, I didn't realise this and thought that the buses were
given eyes, just as my dolls and teddy bears were given eyes. After all,
buses needed to see where they were going. I was quite
concerned when new adverts eventually replaced the eyes.
'Make do and mend' advert on the side of a bus. Photographed in
Brooklands Bus Museum.
Another advert that deserves a place here, although I hardly noticed
it at the time, was the 'Make do and Mend'
one which aimed to
encourage everyone to cope in the rationing and shortages of the
World War and the years of austerity afterwards.