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GWR horse-drawn station bus


Mikkel

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I’ve built a GWR horse-drawn station bus using a modified and detailed P&D Marsh kit.

 

 

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A colourized postcard showing omnibuses in the station forecourt at Minehead. A perusal of period photos suggests that the outside seating wasn’t necessarily the last choice option – on sunny days at least!

 

 

 

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The forecourt at Teignmouth. Lettering on the door shows the fare and “A. Harvey (?), Proprietor”. Many horse-drawn station bus services were operated by individual entrepreneurs, nearby fashionable hotels, or local agents for the railway companies. Actual GWR-owned station buses certainly existed but were, I suspect, a minority.

 

 

 

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Old and new at Helston. The GWR’s first motor-driven road service was introduced at Helston in 1903, signalling the beginning of the end for horsedrawn omnibuses. The horse-drawn bus on the right served a local hotel.

 

 

 

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Phillip Kelley’s two volumes on GWR road vehicles feature a small but useful selection of photo and drawings of GWR horsedrawn buses. Online, a couple of rather interesting GWR omnibuses can be found here (scroll down). An agent-operated GWR service can be seen on the Fairford pages here. For non-GWR omnibuses, Gail Thornton’s website is interesting.

 

 

 

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The P&D Marsh kit is a fairly simple affair but does represent an actual prototype built by the GWR in 1894. There's a Swindon drawing of it in Kelley’s “Great Western Road Vehicles Appendix”. Towards the end of the build I realised that I had overlooked an actual photo of the vehicle in Kelley’s main volume (“Great Western Road Vehicles” p.29). 

 

 

 

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Assembly of the body leaves you with somewhat unsightly corners, as Mike also commented in his build back in 2013.

 

 

 

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Repeated applications of filler and sanding helped, followed by primer.

 

 

 

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The basic components result in a reasonable overall representation of the original vehicle. 

 

 


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Bringing it to this stage was a fairly quick exercise, but I decided to add some detailing.

 

 

 

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First step was some simple seating and glazing. The interior may or may not have been more lavish, but with the roof on very little is visible. 

 

 

 

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The kit’s roof casting is rather thick and does not reflect the pattern on the prototype. A replacement was made by laminating two layers of thin styrene, the top layer being a grid pattern drawn up in Inkscape and printed on my Silhouette.

 

 

 

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This was fixed with superglue, with temporary holes to allow the fumes to escape so they don’t frost the glazing.

 

 

 

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Luggage rails were fitted using 0.5 mm straight brass wire. Later I removed the front rail, as I discovered that the prototype didn’t have it. Same thing can be seen on some other omnibuses. Forward-sliding luggage not a problem on slow-breaking vehicles?

 

 

 

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The drawing and photo show what initially looks like a ladder at the rear. Closer inspection shows it to be three vertical rails with no apparent rungs. My best guess is that they are guard-/guiderails for raising and lowering heavy luggage to and from the roof without damaging the sides. Unless anyone knows better? Anyway, I fitted them using more brass wire. Also seen is the rear passenger step. The one provided in the kit is rather crude and doesn't match the drawing, so I made a simple replacement. The step could be folded down and away for stowage during transport.

 

 


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Discovery of the prototype photo led to some unpleasant surprises. I had overlooked horisontal bolections along the sides and ends, so they were retrofitted using thin wire. There are also what looks like ventilation louvres above the windows (or rainstrips?), these were indicated using thin strips of styrene. 

 

 


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I fashioned a pair of coach lamps using old loco lamps from the scrap box, fitted with bits from my tin of watchmakers’ spares. No particular prototype, just a nod to a certain type seen in some photos.

 

 

 

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Lettering and insignia will have to wait. The prototype photo shows the vehicle in factory finish in 1894, with sans-serif “Great Western Railway” below the windows in quite a small font size (smaller than on goods cartage vehicles), and a simplified garter behind the wheels. My printer can’t do such small lettering to a satisfying standard, so I’ll leave it unlettered until I find one that can.

 

 

 

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The bus will be parked in the station forecourt at Farthing, with passengers outside. So I decided to add some luggage. The prototype photo shows leather straps (or similar) fitted to the luggage rails, so I painted some thin masking tape to imitate this. 

 

 

 

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I'm not sure about the principles for how luggage was packed on omnibus rooves. Photos suggest pragmatic solutions.

 

 

 

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I replaced the horse in the kit. I first painted up the mare on the left, but decided it was more of a goods type. So an exchange was made with the pretentious type on the right. Both are from Dart Castings.

 

 

 

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I normally go with matt varnish for my horse-drawn vehicles, but couldn't resist a satin finish in this case. 

 

 

 

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I'm pondering my choice of driver. Current offerings aren't that good, so will probably modify a seated passenger. No reins, too impractical with my current layout arrangements.

 

 

 

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So that's yet another horse-drawn vehicle for Farthing. Good thing I've got a big stable block :)  There are plans afoot for an early motor bus, but that's another story.

 

 

Edited by Mikkel

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26 minutes ago, Mikkel said:

at Chelverton Road. Here are the 375 horses working the 'white bus' line from Putney to Liverpool Street

There is still a bus garage on Chelverton Road in Putney. The original depot was built in 1888 for the London General Omnibus Company including stabling for the 375 horses. It was rebuilt in 1912 and again in 1935/6 and again more recently. Motor buses were introduced in about 1912.  (The last horses working in Putney until just a few years ago came from the Young's brewery in Wandsworth:  it was said that the beer travelled better by horse and dray).

 

Kit PW

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The drawing and photo show what initially looks like a ladder at the rear. Closer inspection shows it to be three vertical rails with no apparent rungs. My best guess is that they are guard-/guiderails for raising and lowering heavy luggage to and from the roof without damaging the sides. Unless anyone knows better? Anyway, I fitted them using more brass wire.

The drawings show fairly substantial rollers at the top of the rails, which would seem to confirm that they are intended for lifting and lowering the baggage, rather like the end of a  conveyor belt.

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10 hours ago, Mikkel said:

Several photos also show omnibus drivers with bowlers

The association of rolled umbrellas, bowler hats and the bankers/stockbrokers of the City of London is misleading.  The story goes that in the late 1840s, Mr Bowler designed a hat for the Earl of Leicester who was concerned that low hanging branches knocked the top hats off his gamekeepers' heads.  Mr Bowler designed a tough, round topped hat which he had made by Lock & Co and it was intially called a Coke (actually pronounced Cook) after the first of Lock's customers to buy one. Until the first or second decade of the C20th, the bowler was predominantly a hat for working men (unless you lived in Peru where it was worn by women) and its presence on the heads of the horse bus drivers at Farthing would be entirely appropriate.

 

Kit PW

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2 minutes ago, kitpw said:

Mr Bowler designed a tough, round topped hat

 

It was, in effect, an early example of PPE.

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On 10/01/2022 at 18:25, ChrisN said:

Mikkel,

What a lovely vehicle.  I can think of one or two seated Stadden figures who might do for a driver, or will you have him standing on his seat checking the luggage?

 

I need to think about Cambrian Omnibuses, if that is not over kill for the short ride to the hotels.  Umm........

 

Thanks Chris. A Cambrian station bus, yes please!

 

A standing driver would work well for the forecourt cameo I have in mind. Regarding drivers more generally: Over the years I've being looking out for 4mm scale drivers to man my horse drawn vehicles. The three below illustrate the problems, left to right: Too rough, too large, or too straight-backed. The latter is the best and I've modified one or two of them for goods cartage work - but his pose looks odd on the station bus. So yes, modification of Andrew Stadden or ModelU figures is probably the way to go.

 

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23 hours ago, drduncan said:

Absolutely beautiful work! I had been toying with the idea of a horse bus for Nampara and now I’m convinced. I’ll have to do some research into 1890 prototypes and whether to have a company or private example.

Duncan

 

Many thanks Duncan. Let me know if I can help with drawings/photos.

 

I have to say the privately operated buses have a lot charm. You could even devise your own and have some fun on the way. Take for example Edwin Potter's bus which operated from Market Lavington to Devizes:

 

https://marketlavingtonmuseum.wordpress.com/2010/07/22/edwin-potter’s-bus/

 

 

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I think we all know really that the lower working class wore flat caps, and tradesmen, supervisors and that level wore bowler hats.  They also appear to have been adopted by the middle classes.  There are lots of pictures of engine drivers wearing bowlers, well at least after top hats went out and before the companies got strict about headgear.

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22 hours ago, kitpw said:

There is still a bus garage on Chelverton Road in Putney. The original depot was built in 1888 for the London General Omnibus Company including stabling for the 375 horses. It was rebuilt in 1912 and again in 1935/6 and again more recently. Motor buses were introduced in about 1912.  (The last horses working in Putney until just a few years ago came from the Young's brewery in Wandsworth:  it was said that the beer travelled better by horse and dray).

 

Kit PW

 

The London omnibuses are so tempting to model. These two photos also relate to the discussion of headwear. Note the former vehicle marked "The London Bridge Railways", and in the second, the driver with bowler and blanket.

 

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Source: Getty images. Embedding permitted.

 

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Source: Getty images. Embedding permitted.

 

I'm tempted to do a (less extravagant) model of one of these for the roads at Farthing. These types of services don't seem to have been exclusive to the largest towns, see. e.g.: 

 

https://www.postcardsthenandnow.com/2011/11/broadwater-near-worthing-sussex-c1913.html

 

 

20 hours ago, Nick Holliday said:

The drawing and photo show what initially looks like a ladder at the rear. Closer inspection shows it to be three vertical rails with no apparent rungs. My best guess is that they are guard-/guiderails for raising and lowering heavy luggage to and from the roof without damaging the sides. Unless anyone knows better? Anyway, I fitted them using more brass wire.

The drawings show fairly substantial rollers at the top of the rails, which would seem to confirm that they are intended for lifting and lowering the baggage, rather like the end of a  conveyor belt.

 

Aha! Many thanks Nick. That fits the theory then. I had been wondering what the thickening at the top was for. Here's a crop from a photo of another vehicle with the same arrangement:

 

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I was going to indicate it on the model but forgot. Looks like a bit more detailing can be done when I sort out the lettering, i.e. that and the wheel hubs. Thanks.

 

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1 hour ago, Mikkel said:

vehicle marked "The London Bridge Railways"

 

In other words, serves the London Bridge stations (I don't think it actually says "The".) At this date, London Bridge was really at least two separate stations, the through station of the South Eastern and the Brighton terminus. I've been reading Wikipedia and freely lift this verse:

 

Inside the station, everything's so old,
So inconvenient, of such manifold
Perplexity, and, as a mole might see,
So strictly what a station shouldn't be,
That no idea minifies its crude
And yet elaborate ineptitude.

 

John Davidson, Fleet Street and Other Poems (Grant Richards, 1909) - full poem (and an even bleaker one on Liverpool Street) here: https://archive.org/details/in.ernet.dli.2015.95407/page/n41/mode/2up.

 

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22 hours ago, Compound2632 said:

There are several other good ones on that Cornish site. At first I thought, ha! driver with bowler; then realised half the passengers are wearing them too - sensible move, in case of falling off and landing head-first. Did anybody travel inside on a sunny day?

 

https://photographs.museumofcornishlife.co.uk/Search/Detail/1274/?referrer=%2FThemes%2F%3FTransport

 

 

Nice find. That goes in the archives. In Kelley's main volume there is a photo of "Galloper", a spacious omnibus allegedly designed by Brunel when he travelled with officials. Let's hope it ran better than his locomotives :)

 

7 hours ago, Compound2632 said:

 

In other words, serves the London Bridge stations (I don't think it actually says "The".) At this date, London Bridge was really at least two separate stations, the through station of the South Eastern and the Brighton terminus. I've been reading Wikipedia and freely lift this verse:

 

Inside the station, everything's so old,
So inconvenient, of such manifold
Perplexity, and, as a mole might see,
So strictly what a station shouldn't be,
That no idea minifies its crude
And yet elaborate ineptitude.

 

John Davidson, Fleet Street and Other Poems (Grant Richards, 1909) - full poem (and an even bleaker one on Liverpool Street) here: https://archive.org/details/in.ernet.dli.2015.95407/page/n41/mode/2up.

 

 

That is good stuff. I like this bit from the Liverpool Street poem:

image.png.cb24dacfbe350e91304f1a7bd1f4765f.png

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On 11/01/2022 at 20:58, ChrisN said:

I think we all know really that the lower working class wore flat caps, and tradesmen, supervisors and that level wore bowler hats.  They also appear to have been adopted by the middle classes.  There are lots of pictures of engine drivers wearing bowlers, well at least after top hats went out and before the companies got strict about headgear.

Flat caps have not always been just worn by working class men. This photo, found in my Mother's family albums, shows a very middle class bunch of guys in Hereford in the early 1900s. I think one is one of my great uncles, but I have no idea what they were doing, with a couple of postmen in uniform and some with weapons in the group. Peaky Blinders comes to mind, although I have never watched the programme.

A group portrait of 14 men, 2 armed, 2 postmen c1900.jpg

Edited by phil_sutters
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ChrisN

Posted (edited)

3 hours ago, phil_sutters said:

Flat caps have not always been just worn by working class men. This photo, found in my Mother's family albums, shows a very middle class bunch of guys in Hereford in the early 1900s. I think one is one of my great uncles, but I have no idea what they were doing, with a couple of postmen in uniform and some with weapons in the group. Peaky Blinders comes to mind, although I have never watched the programme.

A group portrait of 14 men, 2 armed, 2 postmen c1900.jpg

 

Phil,

What an interesting picture.  I note the trilbies as well, my dad always wore a trilby but I do not think I have a photo of him in one.  Do you know the date?

 

It is interesting that when people see me in my flat cap I either get, "Eh by gum lad," or "Ah, farmer Giles," both with appropriate accents.

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16 minutes ago, ChrisN said:

 

Phil,

What an interesting picture.  I note the trilbies as well, my dad always wore a trilby but I do not think I have a photo of him in one.  Do you know the date?

 

It is interesting that when people see me in my flat cap I either get, "Eh by gun lad," or "Ah, farmer Giles," both with appropriate accents.

From other family photos of Uncle Walter I would say that it dates from about 1900 - 1905, certainly before 1910.

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1 hour ago, ChrisN said:

It is interesting that when people see me in my flat cap I either get, "Eh by gun lad," or "Ah, farmer Giles," both with appropriate accents.

Now that I live in Yorkshire, nobody says a word!

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1 hour ago, Regularity said:

Now that I live in Yorkshire, nobody says a word!

 

But that's generally true. They're a taciturn lot who keep their thoughts to themselves.

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11 minutes ago, Compound2632 said:

 

But that's generally true. They're a taciturn lot who keep their thoughts to themselves.

Private thoughts, yes, but they are very friendly and I am far more likely to receive a friendly greeting than when I lived and worked further south, especially compared to when I lived in Surrey and worked in London.

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An old rule of thumb for the consideration of transport ( such as the busses shown above) I learned a long time ago was;

 

"Sixteen inches one bum, sixteen bums one ton" 

 

The idea was that the average person was sixteen inches of a seat, and that on average sixteen people weighed a ton. I doubt it is sixteen these days but for the period it might be a useful approximation. 

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1 hour ago, Dave John said:

"Sixteen inches one bum, sixteen bums one ton" 

 

That makes the typical late 19th century third class compartment spacious - 8'0" wide over panels, 7'6" internal width, seating five-a-side, 18" per passenger. It also means that a fully-occupied five-compartment third 6-wheeler, tare weight around 13 tons, would have gross weight of about 16 tons. A first would give 30" per passenger but some of that width is taken up by arm-rests.

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2 hours ago, Dave John said:

An old rule of thumb for the consideration of transport ( such as the busses shown above) I learned a long time ago was;

 

"Sixteen inches one bum, sixteen bums one ton" 

 

The idea was that the average person was sixteen inches of a seat, and that on average sixteen people weighed a ton. I doubt it is sixteen these days but for the period it might be a useful approximation. 

 

1 hour ago, Compound2632 said:

 

That makes the typical late 19th century third class compartment spacious - 8'0" wide over panels, 7'6" internal width, seating five-a-side, 18" per passenger. It also means that a fully-occupied five-compartment third 6-wheeler, tare weight around 13 tons, would have gross weight of about 16 tons. A first would give 30" per passenger but some of that width is taken up by arm-rests.

 

That sounds about right.  I am sure that the compartment coaches that I used, which were of course much later, were 5 or 6 a side.  Stadden figures are a bit larger as I can never get five into a seat, but unlike real people they do not give.  Perhaps I should take a file to them.

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1 hour ago, ChrisN said:

That sounds about right.  I am sure that the compartment coaches that I used, which were of course much later, were 5 or 6 a side.  Stadden figures are a bit larger as I can never get five into a seat, but unlike real people they do not give.  Perhaps I should take a file to them.

 

A 4-VEP, such as I commuted on in the late 90s, was nominally 6-a-side - 3+2 with passageway; that would be about 17" per passenger. Those would generally fill up with first one at the window on each side, then one by the aisle on the 3 side, then the other aisle seat, then with great reluctance, the middle seat of the 3! Fortunately no-one ever took a file to me.

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17 hours ago, Dave John said:

Sixteen inches one bum

 

Ha, I like that. No nonsense. Here's a more romantic view, also appealing I think. 

 

1658573037_George_William_Joy_-_The_Bayswater_Omnibus(1).jpg.0b3bc05dd63a97f0d6d4f5a9dd8173f4.jpg

 

The Bayswater Omnibus. George William Joy, 1895. Source: Wikipedia.

 

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Mikkel this is lovely and some very nice additional touches. Love the lamps what part of a watch are those?

Have you seen the book by Janet Russell;

Great Western Horse Power 

ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 086093425X

ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-0860934257

Some decent material here as well although what you have more than likely covers everything you require.

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On 13/01/2022 at 14:10, Dave John said:

An old rule of thumb for the consideration of transport ( such as the busses shown above) I learned a long time ago was;

 

"Sixteen inches one bum, sixteen bums one ton" 

 

The idea was that the average person was sixteen inches of a seat, and that on average sixteen people weighed a ton. I doubt it is sixteen these days but for the period it might be a useful approximation. 


 

perhaps more up to date, at least on the weights, 83.6 kg for men and 70.2 kg for women.  Assuming equal numbers, that would be 6.5 couples per ton.  Or, if you prefer, 12 men or 14.25 women to the ton.

 

 

https://www.google.co.uk/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=&ved=2ahUKEwjq0fqNtLH1AhWClFwKHeQrAyMQFnoECAoQAw&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.bbc.co.uk%2Fnews%2Fuk-11534042&usg=AOvVaw3aH9rsMfO0sFl8JPW9VD6_

 

 

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