The bus pictured here is an AEC Regent which is equipped with a 6.1Litre- six cylinder petrol engine. It had an open rear staircase and bodywork, with seating for 52,and was probably built in the company’s works at Peckham. The vehicle was one of a large fleet purchased between 1929/1932 by the London based Thomas Tilling company, who operated buses in the Brighton and Hove area from 1915 to 1935.
The bus, with its GJ – – – – registration plate is captured lazily approaching the Rottingdean terminus on Route 4 circa early 1930s. In that era, Rottingdean cross-roads was the easterly operating boundary for all Tillings Brighton Buses. The coastal road, east of Rottingdean to Newhaven and beyond, was most definitely the hallowed territory of Southdown Motor Services.
Time for a ‘lay over’
After turning the bus round at the cross-roads, the crew and their vehicle would have a fifteen minute ‘lay over’(bus jargon). This was time enough for a well deserved cup of tea, before heading west on the lengthy return run to Southwick Green, via the centre of Brighton, Hove and Portslade.
Widening of the A259
All the cliff top properties bottom left of the photo were demolished when the A259 coast road was widened a few years later. The Under-cliff walk was constructed around the same time. The terraced houses on the right look much the same today. Rottingdean village Fire Station was housed through the arch behind the houses at that time.
A new livery in 1935
From November 1935, the Thomas Tilling Brighton undertaking, was renamed Brighton Hove & District Omnibus Co Ltd and all the buses where given a distinctive new red, cream and black livery. The new company remained in Tilling ownership as a wholly owned subsidiary, surprisingly still managed from London.
Many changes have occurred to local public transport over the last 75 years some good and some not so good, all of which are well documented. However Brighton & Hove still has its smart Red and Cream workmanlike buses. Next year BHB&CC will be celebrating its 75 year anniversary with a colourful parade of classic and modern buses on Madeira Drive. The date for your diaries is June 13th. 2010.