Conductors Whistles in Times Gone By

Bus and Coach operations, and timetables for The Birmingham and Midland Motor Omnibus Company Limited (BMMO — Midland "Red" Motor Services).
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chason
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Location: Bromsgrove

Conductors Whistles in Times Gone By

Post by chason » 09:17 Tuesday 16th January 2018

There has been some correspondence in the excellent Classic Bus magazine about why some conductors in times gone by carried whistles. I have contributed the following but in case it's not printed, I thought it might be of some interest to Forum users to hear how the 'friendly' Midland Red sometimes operated in practice.

In Malvern, growing up in the early 1950's I had an almost daily experience as to why, because we lived on the Howsell crossroads in Malvern Link which was then the terminus of the hourly M12 Great Malvern to Belmont service. The conductor used to supervise the reversing of the bus from Church Road round the corner into Upper Howsell Road with two loud lasts for 'all clear' and one for stop. If it was raining or the conductor was feeling lazy, he would carry out this operation from inside the bus through the rear windows using the bell to give his signals, not very safely because he had no means of signalling to other traffic.

But as I was to find out, not only the conductor but inspectors too carried whistles. On Saturday afternoons, we used to visit my grandparents who lived in St Andrews Road, if I am honest, the main attraction for me was to view their new fangled attraction - their 9" television set. When childrens TV had finished and the station (only one BBC channel then of course) closed down for an hour, it was time to set off for home. It meant catching the M25 Peachfield Road to Great Malvern as far as Barnards Green and changing to the M14 Wedderburn Road to Great Malvern via Pickersleigh Road and Malvern Link. I don't recall the times but it wasn't an official connection and there was only a minute or so to effect the change but from the same stop.

On this one occasion, as we arrived at Barnards Green's then almost brand new war memorial bus shelter, as often happened, the M14 in front was just pulling out. An inspector was standing on the steps of the CHA SON on the M25 and my mother remarked "Oh dear, we have just missed it again" which meant a half hour wait for the next. Without saying anything the inspector leaned out of the open door, a shrill single blast on his whistle rang out around Barnards Green and the M14 stopped. We ran towards it and got on being met, to my acute embarrassment, by an unfriendly glare from the conductor, obviously annoyed at having to stop.

Despite that, I can remember afterwards when my mother would sometimes ask the conductor on the M25 "one and a half to Barnards Green and can you have your whistle ready?" On at least one other occasion, he did and it worked!

ANDREW
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Location: Bromsgrove.

Re: Conductors Whistles in Times Gone By

Post by ANDREW » 12:08 Tuesday 16th January 2018

I can remember in the sixties when my Gran lived in Woodrow Lane Catshill seeing a Midland Red service [ no idea of the service number ] , reverse into Cobnall Road to the accompaniment of the blowing of a whistle before heading back to Bromsgrove. :)

TimBrown
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Location: Worcester

Re: Conductors Whistles in Times Gone By

Post by TimBrown » 15:20 Tuesday 16th January 2018

As a child in the 1950s I lived in Fernhill Heath three miles north of Worcester and can recall three City services which terminated and reversed off a main road back into a minor road. These were;

W2 The Cross to Droitwich Road, Checketts Lane.
W22 The Cross to Droitwich Road, Claines Lane.
W21 The Cross to Ombersley Road, Beckett Road.

The W22 was particularly hazardous as the main A38 did not have a speed limit on this section at that time, and cars could be travelling in excess of 50 MPH in both directions - not good when swinging the offside of a 30 feet long single decker across both carriageways as the reverse was made into that relatively narrow lane. In addition there were high bushes and trees obstructing the view on the nearside into Claines Lane, they are still there to this day.

W1 The Cross to Ombersley Road, Green Lane was much more civilised as it had a dedicated turning point, which is still used today, away from the main road.

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AdamH
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Location: Worcester

Re: Conductors Whistles in Times Gone By

Post by AdamH » 17:59 Tuesday 16th January 2018

chason wrote:
09:17 Tuesday 16th January 2018
In Malvern, growing up in the early 1950's I had an almost daily experience as to why, because we lived on the Howsell crossroads in Malvern Link which was then the terminus of the hourly M12 Great Malvern to Belmont service...
Walked into the Commercial Office in Padmore Street depot tonight to find this post open on a computer and the company's vast timetable archive being raided with a 1957 Service M12 timetable being inspected!! :lol:

Noggin1
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Joined: 13:58 Sunday 16th October 2016

Re: Conductors Whistles in Times Gone By

Post by Noggin1 » 18:00 Tuesday 16th January 2018

I thought I would go off to ebay to see how common these bus conductor whistles were in the UK. The only bus conductor one listed is indeed a BMMO whistle, made by the famous Acme Whistle Company of Birmingham. It was this enterprising company which suggested to the Metropolitan Police that they should use a whistle instead of a rattle.
https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Whistle-B-M- ... SwZOVZtqgj

bmmoboy
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Re: Conductors Whistles in Times Gone By

Post by bmmoboy » 22:14 Tuesday 16th January 2018

Also in Worcester, the W4 Malvern Road, and W16 Bromwich Road services usually reversed with the aid of a Conductor and his (or her) whistle. I remember S16 and S17s outside my Aunties house in White Road, and I used to stand outside and watch every hour, much to the amusement of the bus crews!

chason
Posts: 111
Joined: 14:24 Friday 22nd July 2016
Location: Bromsgrove

Re: Conductors Whistles in Times Gone By

Post by chason » 09:32 Wednesday 17th January 2018

AdamH wrote:
17:59 Tuesday 16th January 2018
chason wrote:
09:17 Tuesday 16th January 2018
In Malvern, growing up in the early 1950's I had an almost daily experience as to why, because we lived on the Howsell crossroads in Malvern Link which was then the terminus of the hourly M12 Great Malvern to Belmont service...
Walked into the Commercial Office in Padmore Street depot tonight to find this post open on a computer and the company's vast timetable archive being raided with a 1957 Service M12 timetable being inspected!! :lol:
Oh dear, I seem to have started something here! I am not sure when but by my 1959 timetable, the M12 had pretty much ceased to exist with only one journey actually terminating at Howsell Road, the majority in the M12 group of services being extended to Malvern Link and Lower Howsell (Gas Works) as M42's with a solitary M52 journey to Madresfield (I think on Fridays only).

The Howsell crossroads was also served by the M32 which had been extended from Yates Hay Road to Malvern Link by way of a loop down Church Road to Richmond Road, returning via Howsell Road. With the M14 from Wedderburn Road still running every half hour, by my reckoning that meant there were 5 buses an hour in both directions between Great Malvern and Belmont for much of the day, not to mention a few early morning 144 journeys being routed via Belmont. Quite a challenge for todays Commercial Office to match that!!

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AdamH
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Re: Conductors Whistles in Times Gone By

Post by AdamH » 15:05 Wednesday 17th January 2018

From my research, I believe the M22 group were at their peak at about the time the new depot opened in 1954. The down-turn in passengers started about the same time and Malvern’s first significant cuts came in late 1956. After then there was only one morning peak-time M12 journey, the rest being M22 and M42, etc.

My research is here... http://midlandred.net/service.php?servi ... e=overview

chason
Posts: 111
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Location: Bromsgrove

Re: Conductors Whistles in Times Gone By

Post by chason » 17:08 Wednesday 17th January 2018

Thanks, Adam - pretty much confirms my recollection.

MattW
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Location: Welland

Re: Conductors Whistles in Times Gone By

Post by MattW » 17:42 Wednesday 17th January 2018

Amazing how much things have changed, seems like every road in Malvern had a bus service. Good work Boss!

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