West Country Bus Memories in Colour
Just over 10% of the UK population inhabits the West Country, but a much larger number will have visited the area, at some time in their life, as a holiday destination. My parents took me to Paignton in 1960 where the Devon General fleet of smart red and cream AECs, with musical sound effects, immediately entranced me. Seven years later a college friendship lead me to pay several visits to Exeter and South Devon, enabling me to capture the local scene when Exeter still had municipal buses and Devon General had yet to be absorbed into the National Bus Company. My employment as a full-time PSV-driver ensured that working visits to the area would follow and soon I was despatched on a holiday tour to Teignmouth and, later in the year, to Newquay in Cornwall. On a trip to Torquay I parked my Midland Red coach in Torwood Street garage where the inspector told me that I must report to him on my rest day and operate a local excursion using my coach. This I was more than happy to do and with a hastily assembled set of notes I managed to locate my passengers at various hotels, find the destinations of Cockington and Totnes and complete the tour to everyone's satisfaction. I can now say that 'I worked for Devon General' even if only for a day - and it nearly got me the sack from Midland Red. I did not realise that I needed permission from my Heath Hayes traffic manager and effectively I had been using the vehicle without the owner's consent!
All the operators included in this book were in the old "Western Traffic Area" as defined by the Traffic Commissioners in the 1960s. This neatly covered the counties of Devon, Cornwall, Somerset, Dorset, Wiltshire and Gloucestershire. I have started the 'journey' in Exeter from where we travel to the south-west. Next we go north-east through to Gloucestershire and finally head east towards Wiltshire.
64 Pages full colour HARDBACK