Friday, 25 January 2019

My Grandfather's Hat

This blog was originally started to record my adventures on my narrowboat Starcross, which I owned between 2004 and 2014. Owning a boat was something I'd wanted to do for many years and I'm pleased I did it and will look back on it with great pleasure.  But canals have always had to vie for my attention with the other great love of my life: buses. And buses always had the advantage that they run in the family.

My grandfather started work as a groom to a local landowner who went under the Catch 22-esque name and title of "Major Mynors".  One day, the Major called him into his study and told him he was getting rid of the horses and was going to buy one of those new-fangled motor cars. Grandad's job was to get the train to Coventry, watch the men building the car in the factory, find out how it worked...and DRIVE IT BACK TO CARMARTHENSHIRE!

Later, he joined the South Wales Transport Company as one of their first  drivers at Llanelly depot and spent the rest of his working life driving buses between  there and Swansea, Carmarthen and surrounding towns and villages.

I recently found some old photographs, dating from 1936 which must have been given to me by my uncle, a keen family historian.

The first is of the man himself  - and the uncle who supplied the photos - in our home village of Pembrey with grandad waiting to drive his bus  - a petrol engined AEC Regent - back to Llanelly

The next has a caption on the back describing it as the "Corona Pop Factory Trip". Grandad is on the extreme right in his white summer uniform. My dad is also on this one, fourth from the left on the back row. He'd presumably blagged a seat on the basis that his dad was the driver (my mum and I did the same when dad drove coaches on day trips for a local coach operator - he'd pick us up at the side of the road out of sight of the depot).  "Corona" was still a popular soft drinks brand in my own childhood, but the factory was in the Rhondda valley so this was presumably a trip to visit it, rather than a works outing.

Lastly, Grandad's bus seems to have come to grief on the road somewhere between Carmarthen and Llanelly. Family legend has it that he had to drive into the hedge to avoid an oncoming vehicle and therefore it wasn't his fault, but the bus, a Dennis Lancet, would have been nearly new at the time so I bet his boss wasn't too pleased.

Then, after scanning and filing the photos what should turn up during a loft clear-out but this:

Grandad's bus driver's hat and almost certainly the one he was wearing in the first picture!  Unfortunately it was too small for me to be able to wear during my own bus conducting and driving days but it's a link with the past, with grandad and with the South Wales Transport Company, which is also no longer with us.


Sarah said...

Fabulous post, thank you Jim.

Karen Bingham said...

What a lovely post, great memories of your Grandad, thank you for sharing. Hope you're keeping well. Ian and Karen

Nev Wells said...

You can't beat old photographs to make you want to invent a time machine !! I love the fashion of wearing your trousers up close to your chest.... it'll no doubt come to me one day, in fact I may start practicing and see if my family notice !

Jim said...

Nev, It certainly bears wearing them half-way down your a*se as people do nowadays!
I like those photos from the 1950s when men wore their open-knocked shirts with the collar outside the jacket collar.

Jim said...

Open-knecked. (Thank you spellcheck!)