Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Happy Birthday SWT

Founded in 1914, the South Wales Transport Company (SWT) was a pioneer of bus travel, the industry only really  becoming established on a large scale after the First World War. Its red buses played a large part in my childhood. My grandfather drove them,  they took me to school and once the company introduced its Day Runabout tickets in about 1963 I discovered a new hobby of bus riding that I've followed ever since.
Its story is unusual it being possibly the only bus company to operate trams, trolleybuses and even a light railway - the much-missed Mumbles Train. By the time I got to know it the glory days were over as the rapid social change of the 1960s took its toll and it went through some frankly dodgy periods until eventually becoming part of First Group.

The birthday celebrations took place at the Swansea Bus Museum,  where local enthusiasts have established a collection of old SWT buses some of which are in running order. These, together with a number of visiting buses - including an LT Routemaster - were used to operate a number of timetabled "services " to different parts of Swansea and the Gower whilst others were on display at the museum alongside an exhibition of artefacts from the company's history. (Think Braunston Historic Working Boat Show on wheels).
Riding the buses brought back many memories. Older passengers tended to say things like "I used to go to school on one of these " whilst, sadly,  for many of the children it was a novelty to be on a bus in the first place.
First Group dissolved the original company in 1998 so the anniversary was a bit of a sham,  but it's obviously not been forgotten by local people and First has recently started adding "South Wales" fleetnames to its buses and has even painted one of its new ones in the old SWT red and cream colours - a huge improvement it has to be said.

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