Memories

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Born out of Aureolin's thread on photography and my response about all things old, it just brought back some memories of being on a bus when I were younger and wondered if anyone else had any to share.

One of my earliest memories was heading off to Jesmond Dene Pets Corner with one of my Grandparents. What was usually an uneventful trip to Gateshead on a 26, followed by the Metro to Newcastle (all pre-deregulation) was rudely interupted by the TWPTE Atlantean daring to have its stairs on the 'wrong side' of the bus! Me seeing a decker pull up and wondering how the hell you got upstairs has stayed with me to this day.
It has stopped with me almost as much as the vomit covering the upstairs front window of a United 723 Olympian a year or so later.

But not as much as throwing 'devil bangers' from the upstairs window (they slid open) of a VR at unsuspecting pedestrians who we passed on a 551 one summer - when I was a few years older.
(02 Jul 2013, 7:21 pm)Andreos1 Wrote: But not as much as throwing 'devil bangers' from the upstairs window (they slid open) of a VR at unsuspecting pedestrians who we passed on a 551 one summer - when I was a few years older.

I remember people doing that years ago haha. That and people using makeshift pea shooters out of a bottle neck and rubber glove finger!

One thing that I always remember is the old red and white 'mini link' Northern buses (post deregulation). They must of only had about 15 seats and used to be jam packed once they had picked up from Oxclose school.

I can always remember sitting upstairs on the scholar services - usually a Kingsley Atlantean. You'd always have someone sit over the viewing thing on the dash at the front right, whilst people would hang out the back window having a cheeky cigarette. There was always the odd time the driver would drive straight back to school to get the head mind Rolleyes
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Whoops, that was you I must have hit! Sorry about that haha.
Can't remember that sort of pea-shooter mind. Oxclose must have been more advanced than our dismembered bic pens which we used!

Yeah, many a time spent on those mini-links in the Summer holidays.
Did they have windows which opened? Can always remember them being beyond hot when they were crowded ie all 15 seats were taken up.
Did they have some sort of colour coding on the destination blind too?

Mind, they were the total opposite to the Mercedes mini-links Chester had. Trying to reach for the bell as a kid (which was a button embeded into the ceiling) and struggling down the narrow gangway was fraught with the risk of falling over and missing your stop.

Do kids still smoke on the scholars buses?
Sounds like the same mini link buses. Only two bells in the entire bus - both in the ceiling. None of the windows actually opened. There was just a roof window which you had to ask the driver to open for you, as it was a makeshift fire escape too! On a plus side, the high back coach seats were comfy.
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(03 Jul 2013, 9:10 am)aureolin Wrote: Sounds like the same mini link buses. Only two bells in the entire bus - both in the ceiling. None of the windows actually opened. There was just a roof window which you had to ask the driver to open for you, as it was a makeshift fire escape too! On a plus side, the high back coach seats were comfy.

Oh god i remember those on the 21 (Stagecoach) Thorney close to South Bents, used to love them buses
Ooo Friend, Bus Friend.
I remember being on those minlink buses, Park Lane depot and Phili depot had those in the Sunderland district colours, used to be on the 159 Sunderland to Bournmoor, yes no windows just 2 plastic roof ones which you can open on a tilt so air could get in the minlink or have it fully open, you were squashed like sardines in the very small seats, the capacity used to get more than what it was legally stated. eventually windows that open were put in.

I remember when I first got my first network travel ticket from the Travelcentre in the old Sunderland Central Bus Station in 1990 at a cost of £23 for all zones for the month (price now is about 4 times the price), first bus I got with my new pass was Michael franks Coaches service 153 from Sunderland to Easington Lane.

(03 Jul 2013, 9:25 am)Michael Wrote:
(03 Jul 2013, 9:10 am)aureolin Wrote: Sounds like the same mini link buses. Only two bells in the entire bus - both in the ceiling. None of the windows actually opened. There was just a roof window which you had to ask the driver to open for you, as it was a makeshift fire escape too! On a plus side, the high back coach seats were comfy.

Oh god i remember those on the 21 (Stagecoach) Thorney close to South Bents, used to love them buses

was that fleet number 1621 etc..., used to get them from Sunderland to Thorney Close and also on the 17 Sunderland to Seaburn Camp

The mini-links in my area first appeared after de-regulation (like everywhere I suppose). At the time, I was living in Blaydon and the first mini-link service was the 630 which operated between Blaydon and Snook Hill Estate in Winlaton. Then there was the 628 which operated between Blaydon and Winlaton via Hole-in-the-Wall Estate; and the 629 which operated between Winlaton and Lobley Hill via the newly opened Metrocentre. All of these were precursor to the 'M series' of routes which operated between Metrocentre and Winlaton (and, of course, Lobley Hill, Sunniside and Whickham).

Having mini-links going to the Metrocentre was a bad idea as they were usually chocker-block coming back and, if you weren't first in the queue, it was standing-room only for most of journey. At Blaydon, even more people were crammed in. Even when sitting, it was still an uncomfortable journey.
(03 Jul 2013, 9:10 am)aureolin Wrote: Sounds like the same mini link buses. Only two bells in the entire bus - both in the ceiling. None of the windows actually opened. There was just a roof window which you had to ask the driver to open for you, as it was a makeshift fire escape too! On a plus side, the high back coach seats were comfy.

The Mercedes ones, were (or seemed) longer than the Washington Mini-links. Here's a photo of one in Durham http://www.flickr.com/photos/ewood_eddie...018389985/

Opposed to this W5 or W6 http://www.flickr.com/photos/16314639@N02/6890822395

Now you mention the sunroof, it rings a bell.
As a kid, I can remember standing in the old Gateshead Metro every Friday with my Dad waiting for the bus home from Tesco. Watching all the buses come through showing such exotic destinations as Sacriston, Parkside, Seaham Harbour, Frosterly, Peterlee, Hartlepool, Chester-le-Street etc. Not to mention the vehicles - Nationals, Bristol VRs, Olympians, Metrobuses (a special mention must go to the expresslink Metrobuses - they sounded fantastic!) - it all just got me hooked. From then I wanted to be a bus driver and go to all these places.

Then I grew up and got a job in an office! Best laid plans, and all that...
I have some fond memories of Derwent Coaches.

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[Image: 7481548068_87dcf8173b_m.jpg]

(Image Link: http://www.flickr.com/photos/busfreakbrian/7481549572 - User: Briandela)

Not only did they operate the Cross Country service between Whickham and Ryton (and, in later years, from Ryton into Newcastle) but they were also the provider of coach travel for my school. They used to take us swimming; take us on school trips to the coast and Lightwater Valley; and for some, although not me as I lived right next to the school; take us home.

The cross-country service was always a laugh. You were allowed to drink, smoke, and basically, do whatever you wanted. You were always aware that the bus might brake-down at a moments notice (the buses never sounded healthy), but since it was usually a coach, the seats were comfortable. It was a regular pub-crawler bus for drinkers wishing to alternate between the bars of Winlaton and Whickham. It was convenient for last orders, the last bus to Whickham used to get you there before 11:00 while the last bus to Winlaton used to arrive before last, last, orders at 11:30.

The bus eventually lost all its character when it was eventually absorbed into GNE, renumbered the 641 and operated by OK Travel. It probably ended sometime in the late 90s when the 637 came into operation.
Were Derwent the ones based next to the traffic lights at Swalwell?

They used to take us on many a school trip too.

Can anyone remember the temporary bus station in the car park of the disused factory on the river at Dunston by the Tudor Rose - during the Gateshead Garden Festival?
Buses would arrive and depart the site with clockwork regularity dropping off and picking up kids on school trips.
Go-ahead Northern must have picked up a contract, because on our frequent trips there, we had a range of buses take us.
The VRs and the 'Best Buy' branded Metrobus were my favourites.

Does anyone know why some of the Metrobus's had a single seat behind the staircase upstairs, rather than the normal double seat?
Yes, their garage used to be located at the bottom of Swalwell Bank, next door to Fewsters.

I think they also had some arrangement with Thirlwell Coaches located further on up Swalwell Bank. Sometimes, you used to see Thirlwell Coaches in Derwent's yard and sometimes they ran the school services.

There were two bus stations/drop off points at the National Garden Festival. There was the coach drop off at the CWS Flour Mill on St Omers Road (as you described), but there was also the commercial bus station located at the Teams where the X66 turns into before running along the bus-only section of route along the riverside. There was also Jetty located there as a ferry ran between the Quayside and the Festival.
Ah Derwent Coaches. It was the luck of the draw whether or not it made it up the bank and the fare was as much or as little as you liked!
(10 Jul 2013, 1:05 pm)Chris Wrote: Ah Derwent Coaches. It was the luck of the draw whether or not it made it up the bank and the fare was as much or as little as you liked!

That made me laugh.

As a teen I used to often get the bus from Hole-in-the-Wall to Winlaton. Three buses came at more or less the same time including the Derwent. Sometimes, I didn't have the full 15p required for my bus-fare. I knew the drivers at Northern would have none of it, so I used to wait for Derwent with my 12p in hand while preparing my sob story for the driver. It always worked!

I'm telling you, if they existed today and had a Facebook page, everyone would be complementing the customer service skills of the drivers. Big Grin
15p - absolute bargain.
I can remember my Mother complaining when it went up to 20p and thought I was ripping her off 5p! Obviously those were the days before the internet, so a quick phonecall ensued to the depot to check it had gone up. The fella on the other end got an ear bashing at how expensive it was and how she had to find an extra 10p to get me to and from comp!

Just remembering when I was younger, handing over the 'old style' 5p for a day out with the Grandparents back in the early 80s. 10p, if we were getting a transfer over to Whitley Bay for fish & chips.

Wonder what inflation would make the equivalent fares these days? Are kids getting good value with their £1.10 day tickets or is it too much?
Going off on a tangent for a minute (this is way more interesting than work), the last 632/633 from Newcastle could somtimes be a bit dicey. Whilst it was timetabled to still go along Scotswood Road, Winlatons finest would regularly bolt across the Redheugh Bridge, A184 and then up the A1 before picking up at Blaydon.
Sometimes buses into Blaydon used to use the flyover rather than the crossing. For some reason, I always preferred it when they did that.

Speaking of Scotswood Road, another memory of mine was on the few occasions when it closed. Sometime in the early 80s, there was some sort of problem at Paradise Bridge (flooding?), so the 631/2/3 was diverted via Denton Road, Armstrong Road and Atkinson Road. On the way back from Newcastle, they sometimes used South Benwell Road instead of Atkinson Road. This diversion seem to last forever as a child but it was probably only for a month or so.

Also, coming out of Marlborough Crescent, buses sometimes used to go up Westmorland Road and down Park Road to get to Scotswood Road. This was after the Redheugh Bridge was built so I've always wondered why this was the case?
Just had a blast from the past.
No idea where this came from!

Redby put on a service (13?) that ran from Houghton - Heworth or Newcastle.
Go ahead responded by sticking an extra 194 on, to run ahead of the Redby. It was usually a MiniLink of some sort and I think that tells the story of how much demand there was...

On one occasion the 13 stopped opposite Seaburn Garage on Station Road/Beatrice Terrace and despite having its indicators on, the 194 spoiler over took it.
These were the days before Station Road was hindered by parked cars - so the road was perfectly clear for the 13 to continue up the road with the 194 on the opposite side, running alongside it.
The dual-door MK1 National on the 13 won the race.
'Illegitimis non carborundum'
The 332 when Northumbria Coaches/GNE operated it
(09 Jul 2013, 1:24 pm)Chris Wrote: As a kid, I can remember standing in the old Gateshead Metro every Friday with my Dad waiting for the bus home from Tesco. Watching all the buses come through showing such exotic destinations as Sacriston, Parkside, Seaham Harbour, Frosterly, Peterlee, Hartlepool, Chester-le-Street etc. Not to mention the vehicles - Nationals, Bristol VRs, Olympians, Metrobuses (a special mention must go to the expresslink Metrobuses - they sounded fantastic!) - it all just got me hooked. From then I wanted to be a bus driver and go to all these places.

Then I grew up and got a job in an office! Best laid plans, and all that...

And wondering where on earth they were?

In total agreement with the uprated Metrobuses.
They sounded great.
I was stuck with the standard ones that Sunderland Road and Chester had for the main, which although I enjoyed - were no match for the posh ones.
'Illegitimis non carborundum'