The Bus to School
I moved to the top of Amberley Drive in Hangleton as a 3-year-old in 1957. The earliest I remember anything about the local buses would be when I started school at Cottesmore in 1958. As with all the other new 5-year-old school starters, the mums would put us on the bus down at Clark Avenue in the morning and collect us there again after school.
Burwash Road Buses
A number of buses terminated in Burwash Road around this time; and as it was only a few hundred yards away it was very convenient for local residents, few of whom had cars. Of course, now the thought of buses terminating for 20 minutes outside my house doesn’t sound great, however, in the early 1960’s news that the No 19 bus was to terminate right outside our house in Amberley Drive went down a storm!
Bus Drivers and Conductors
Of course, we kids soon got to know all the drivers and conductors; probably gave them some lip as well! We had nicknames for many of them; the small conductor “fares please” always had a hand-rolled cigarette stuck to his bottom lip, and overall we were on very good terms with them. Sometimes in the real bitter winter weather mum would refill their flasks, or provide cold water on boiling hot summer days. It would not be unusual on the walk home from school, having spent our bus fare on sweets, for the driver or conductor to tell us to “hop on” for a free ride home!
An Unusual Bus Journey
Probably about 1964, three of us kids were sitting on the “long seat” of the bus chatting to the driver and conductor during their 20-minute break when it became abundantly clear we had no idea where the other termination point Willmington Way was. The conductor said they would take us there, but as there was a danger the inspector would get on at some point in the journey we would have to ride hidden in the luggage compartment under the stairs! The three of us, me, my younger brother Tim and our best mate all clambered through the small opening and moved to the right so we were out of sight under the stairs.
Problems at Brighton Station
Everything was fine for the first hour, however, when the bus arrived at Brighton Station piles of luggage were quickly deposited and we were forced further back squeezed tightly under the first few steps! Gradually as the bus went on its way luggage was removed piecemeal, and we had plenty of room before we finally got to Willmington Way! The return journey was the same and again at Brighton Station luggage started to pile in. However, by this time we had “wised up” and didn’t “give ground” I guess whoever was putting it there just thought there was already luggage tucked in at the back! What a way to spend an afternoon!
Outside play for us kids at the top of Hangleton was the norm; I guess we spent the same amount of time outside as kids today spend on computer games.