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London Transport: Buses mid 20th Century


Waiting for a bus in 1940s and 50s London

Waiting for a bus at a bus stop

There were two types of bus stop.

The sign for one had a white background, and buses always stopped there.

Hailing a London bus at a request stop in the late 1940s by holding out the left arm

Hailing a London bus at a request stop by holding out the left arm. A detail from a photo in the London Transport Museum.

The sign for the other had a red background and was marked as a 'request' stop. Buses only stopped there if a passenger inside the bus rang the bell or if someone at the request stop held out his or her arm.

Waiting at a bus stop was frustrating because there was no way of knowing how long the wait would be. It was rare for a timetable to be posted up, and timetables were unreliable anyway.

In all but the warmest of weathers, waiting was also a chilly business because bus stops were located in prominent positions so that they could be seen. This meant that the wind caught them. Shelters were rare and, if they did exist, they were open at the sides or bottoms, presumably to prevent litter collecting. So feet got very cold in winter. Or perhaps the problem was with the shoes that we wore.

Waiting for a bus at a bus station / terminus

As the buses had no doors, there was nothing to stop us waiting inside a bus at a bus station.

As Edgware, where I lived, was a terminus for the buses in the area, at least the waits for our outward journeys were out of the wind.

If you can add anything to this page or provide a photo, I would be pleased if you would contact me.

Text and images are copyright

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