Daily Archives: October 17, 2011

Riding the Bus


“He thought he saw a banker’s clerk
descending from the bus
He looked again and found it was
A hippopotamus.” Lewis Carroll
from the Mad Gardener’s Song

I recently read two blogs about buses and they both revived memories of riding the buses when I lived in London many aeons ago.  Elizabeth at Mirth and Motivation wrote about riding the London bus to Cheapside.  And Hallysan at Photographic Memories wrote about riding the Oxford bus.


We had no car when I was growing up in London, so if somewhere was more than walking distance away, we took the bus.  And even if we were to take the tube (aka London Underground) we had to take a bus to get there.

Of course, as children, we always wanted to go upstairs and sit at the front of the bus.

When I was small the area in which I lived was mainly served by trolleybuses.  These were powered by overhead electric lines and regularly they were stopped because the poles would fall off the line and become entangled.  This entailed the conductor (yes we had both driver and conductor on buses then) manhandling the poles back into place and then the bus would continue.

There were no doors and the buses were boarded via an open platform.  I guess we were not as security conscious then as now.

Bus stops were at regular intervals along the route.  There were compulsory stops which were depicted by a white sign and request stops had red signs.  Perhaps they are unchanged to this day.

To request a bus to stop one had merely to wave one’s left arm out and the driver would comply.

The trolleybuses were eventually superseded by motor buses and I am sure that the conductors were pleased not to have to manhandle the poles any more.

My first job was at the Westminster Bank in Liverpool Street.  To get there I took a No 9 bus which took about 35 minutes.

I changed jobs and then I used to travel on the No 22 bus each day to and from Knightsbridge.  This was a journey of almost 1 hour and in the morning I would read the paper or a book but in the evening I would go to sleep.  I used to hold my ticket in my hand for the conductor to check and sleep all through the journey waking only just before my bus reached its stop.  I don’t remember ever sleeping past my stop.

Yet another job had me travelling on the tube.  But first I had to get the bus to the underground station.  This was a journey of about 20 minutes.

And then another 20 or 25 minutes on the tube.  But we took the waiting, getting on and off buses, changing lines on the underground in our stride.  Several million other people were doing the same thing on a daily basis.

In parts of New Zealand, public transport is almost non-existent.  I am lucky in that Wellington has a good transport system and we have a regular bus service that takes me into the city centre in about 20 minutes.

Wellington city bus

Note we still have trolleybuses on some routes here in Wellington.

So thanks to my two blogging friends for reviving some more memories and remember:-

“Circumstances or people can take away your material possessions,
they can take away your money, and they can take away your health.
But no one can ever take away your precious memories.
So, don’t forget to make time and take the opportunities
to make memories everyday.

Judith Baxter, Blogger, mother,  grandmother and friend.