A transport mystery solved

Downland Cars c1926/27: click to open a large version in a new window
Image reproduced with kind permission of The Regency Society and The James Gray Collection
Downland Cars c1926/27: click to open a large version in a new window
From the private collection of Roy Grant
Mobile cafe: click to open a large version in a new window
From the private collection of Roy Grant

Magnus Volk’s public transport

During a recent discussion on the My Brighton and Hove Yahoo group, it was revealed that Magnus Volk, not only introduced the Volk’s Railway and Daddy Longlegs to Brighton, he also had a personal shot at public transport.  He inaugurated a bus service based on two four cylinder 30hp vehicles built in 1917 called Guy Runabouts.  We found two photos showing these early local buses (registration numbers CD 9455 & CD 9456) in their hey-day taking passengers on a local scenic journey which cost just 5 old pence.  The journey was from Black Rock, up what is now known as Wilsons Avenue, and terminated at the Downs Hotel in the rural hinterland of a then largely under developed Woodingdean

Uneconomical service

The service, which ran from 1926 -1927, proved to be uneconomical and the buses were put into retirement and subsequently sold off, only to re-emerge in later years as two elements of a mobile café.  By then one had undergone substantial modifications, having an upper deck and awnings added, but it can still be clearly identified in the third photo by its registration number.  Although the registration of another former bus partially seen in line with the double decked café is not visible, its general shape and numerous other structural similarities suggests that when the picture was taken both Guy Runabouts were still together, with the other having far fewer external alterations

A mobile café in Portslade

According to the Regency Society’s text that accompanied the first James Gray image, one of these buses continued to function as a mobile café, eventually occupying a site outside Portslade station in the early 1950s.  Records show that it was then removed to Guy Motors for renovation, but disappeared after Guys was taken over.

Comments about this page

  • Great topic. It would have made sense for Volk to instigate a bus service inland from Black Rock since his electric railway terminated there.

    By Len Liechti (23/03/2015)
  • Speaking from memory,  I was an apprentice at CVA in Portland road in the late 50s and there was a Guy single decker used as a cafe at Portslade Station but this vehicle was ex Southdown. This bus was secured by a preservationist and restored to its former glory. I last saw it at the BH&D 75th celebrations on the Madiera Drive. The bus was not a Guy runabout.

    By John Boxell (25/03/2015)
  • The bus that came to rest at Portslade and became a pie wagon, was owned by my Grandfather Frank Errett, who made the pies that were sold from it. Great to discover this page showing the former glory.

    By Ray Hamblett (07/02/2016)
  • John Boxell do you have any photographs of the restored vehicle?
    I am keen to learn any more of its fate.

    By Ray Hamblett (09/11/2020)

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