Southend Transport
The X1 Story - Personal Memories
 

This part of the Southend Transport X1 web pages contains personal memories. More contributions are always welcome - please email me with the details.

 


John Bashford ... ...

I was employed by Southend Transport in 1986 solely as a coach driver for the 'X' services to & from London. I had a strange contract of employment, which meant I was not allowed to drive town services - only X's. At that time, the mainstay of the fleet were Duple bodied Leyland Leopards of varying ages. There were also a few Plaxton bodied Leopards, and some dual-purpose bodied Leyland Tigers, that ST had from new when the X1 service was originally launched, when it ran between Southend and Reading.

We also had some really smart Mercedes Astromega double-deck coaches bodied by Van Hool, that were a pleasure to drive, especially if you had spent several days driving a draughty Leyland Leopard that was definitely past its sell-by date.

Did you manage to get any info/pictures of those awful yellow ex-Cardiff (??) double-deckers that were used for a while on Londons, when Southend Transport were operating the "Culture Bus" hop on and off London tour. Perhaps those buses weren't that bad, but at around 40mph flat out, they weren't much good on the X service!

I requested and was given a rota-line on the "All-Day" rota, which meant that I did a morning commuter run to Hyde Park Corner, parked up for the day at a coach park just off the Old Kent Road, and then operated an evening commuter run back to Southend. The whole of the day was spent parked up with the rest of the 35 drivers who were also on "all-day Londons".

There was definitely a community feel about the crowd of us that did the "all-day Londons". Drivers still talk about their days on the X's, and the time they spent parked up at Rolls Road or at the LT depot at Camberwell. Many drivers regret the day that Arriva stopped running them, and I think it was only last Thursday that one of the ex-X1 drivers asked me why Arriva gave up a service that had been so successful in the past.

Looking back, it was a doddle of a job - about 12 hours pay for driving one trip to London and back, with every weekend off. A big improvement over my previous employment as a driver for a private coach operator, who seemed to think that drivers really loved to work all day, every day, and really didn't want a life of their own!!

I'm afraid I don't have any photos of the coaches, but I do have some happy memories of when ST paid good money for not a lot of work!!


James Sadd ... ...

Conducting on the X1

I worked at Southend Transport in 1986 as a Conductor, one of two who were "X1 trained". My training being to be overseen by a Driver on the 0830 Southend-London Heathrow, which was conducted on Saturdays only as far as the [then] Ensign Bus yard at Purfleet. The coach continued on to London one man operated and the conductor waited at Ensignís yard to board the 0957 coach to Southend, which had come through from London and arrived in Southend at 11am. In the days I conducted this service both those journeys were very busy and were utilising the Van Hool Astromegas with a 80 % full rate after Basildon! Time keeping would have been impossible without crew operation!

Mostly we used Almex ticket machines (as did the drivers when working OMO) but for a period, long range Setright machines were in use. Setrights were still used by town service conductors prior to April 1988.
[historical note by Richard Delahoy: between March 1987 and April 1988 Setright machines with insert slots were used by OMO drivers on the London service, to enable 10 journey tickets to be sold on coaches].

When STL operated the 614 Culturebus I had the distinction of being trained for that route. The training being merely given a leaflet map with a Mancunian driver (who still works at Arriva Southend) and an Astromega! As you can imagine, we did an X1 up to London then dead (not in service) to Central London - we got lost around Victoria - passing Buckingham Palace twice - not so bad but coaches are banned from there!! On another occasion I conducted morning peak journeys on local services 14 and 29 and then the 0900 X3 to Canvey, 1010 X31 Canvey-London Green Park and 1255 X1 all with 371 - an open-top Daimler Fleetline/Northern Counties, which incidentally made Buses Magazine. (Click here for a photo)

During my time at STL I conducted Leopards, Tigers, DAFs and on one occasion an Ensign DMS on an X21 to Shoeburyness. Iím fortunate enough to work again in the bus industry after 9 years as a Bingo Caller doing a job I thoroughly enjoy but my memories of my time at STL will always be treasured ... oh how I wish I could turn the clock back !!

James Sadd, Bus and Coach Hire Consultant


 

 
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Page last updated Friday 2 January 2004