30 thoughts on “Thornaby Town Hall and the ‘O’ Bus

  1. The year was 1961 and I was an 11 year old left to go by myself, catching the no 3 at 7.30 am from Roseworth, then the O from Stockton to Middlesbrough, finishing with the school bus to St Mary’s college. All to be repeated in reverse to arrive home after 5.00 pm. My grandson here in Australia is approaching that age and such a journey would be unthinkable. In later years, during the early 70s, the O bus was a life saver as back up to my old ford pop, for getting to the Teesside Polytechnic. At that time living with my wife and young son at Norton.

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  2. Middlesbrough Corporation buses were blue and Stockton ones were green. I understand that Middlesbrough used letters for their routes and Stockton used numbers. Hence the ‘0’ service suited both towns, eg Letter O was the route out off Middlesbrough and the Number O was the route out of Stockton. Prior to leaving Stockton in 1963 I lived in Portrack and that area was served by the number 1/1A. I think the 1A went to Port Clarence but the number 1 terminated in Portrack and returned to the High Street near to what was Wellington Street.

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  3. The reason it was the “0” bus, I was told, was in order that no confusion could arise between Middlesbrough Transport buses and Stockton as at that time Middlesbrough used letters rather than numbers.

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  4. The reason it was the “O” bus , I was told, was because at that time Middlesbrough Corporation Transport used letters instead of numbers which was always confusing when you went to Middlesbrough. In order that there would be no confusion the “0” bus was established thus siting both transport systems.

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  5. As has been discussed elsewhere on Picture Stockton in the past, the service was jointly run by Stockton and Middlesbrough Corporations. Stockton used route numbers and Middlesbrough used route letters, so ‘O’ or ‘0’ was the common identification. It was a good (and cheap) afternoon trip out for me and my summer holiday pals, John Meadows and Michael Kemp, to catch the service at Tilery and go through to North Ormesby, back to Norton Green, and back to Tilery. I seem to remember there was a special ’round trip’ fare to do that.

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  6. I saw this scene every working day from April 1957 to July 1961. I cycled to my job at Head Wrightson’s. Just round the bend passed the Town Hall clock was Tilston’s cycle shop in Mandale Road run by Bill Tilston who was kind to impoverished apprentices allowing them to buy things “on the nod.” A little further down, at the Five Lamps, was a cafe that had a juke box. For 3d I listened to Elvis Presley telling me he was “All Shook Up.” Was it really so long ago when all I had was hope?

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    • ‘re
      That would have been Reas coffee bar which had the jukebox. Funnily enough ‘All Shook Up’ was the first record I bought. I also worked at HW along with yourself Colin Waugh, Bob Middleton, Harold Berry among others in the R & D department. It sometimes seems like yesterday as they were good times so long ago. Hope you are keeping well.

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      • Hello David (Day)
        I have just seen your post about the cafe with the jukebox and the names you mentioned. Colin Waugh was a cricket enthusiast, Bob Middleton went to Stockton Grammar School and we became quite friendly, Harold Berry was a comedian who smoked too much. I worked with Don Fletcher in those days who didn’t get on with a chap (Eric I think) in the lab who was a Dave Brubeck fan and went to a jazz club in Redcar driving a Vauxhall Victor. I also remember the second in command, Ken Dawson, who came to work on a motorcycle combination and a ginger haired chap called Martin who liked trad-jazz, drove a Ford Anglia Estate car and grew shallots.
        I left Head Wrightsons in 1961 and moved to London in 1963 where I have remained. Nice to hear from you David.

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        • The old HW site looked very different last time I was back on Teesside. I understand that now the shopping centre that was built in the 70’s is to be demolished. I think the Martin you mentioned called Plummer and he emigrated to Australia. I left Heads in 1965 and eventually ended up working for United Biscuits until I retired. I now live in S. Bucks but have fond memories of HW and the people I worked with there. Take care and keep in touch through the medium of this brilliant website. I check it most days.

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      • Cool lots of Day’s around on this thread. My mum worked in Rea’s cafe for a brief period when she and my dad lived temporarily with my nana in St Paul’s Road, Thornaby.

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  7. I think the O bus went from Norton Green to the Market place at North Ormesby. As a fifteen years old I travelled on it every Saturday to play football for South Bank Sr Peters in The Middlesbrough and District Junior league. It was a long way to go for a football match every Saturday But I chose South Bank St Peters as My idol Wilf Mannion played for them as a Junior. 70 years ago seems like yesterday. I also then had to get another bus to South Bank. Are any of my old team mates reading this article.

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  8. I worked for Stockton Corporation Transport, as a Bus Conductor in 1964/65, the “0” Bus which did operate between Norton Green and North Ormesby Market (ie Doggy market) was a joint service between Middlesbrough Corporation (blue buses) Stockton Corporation (green) and although my main route was the No.8 operating between Roseworth and Thornaby Aerodrome. But did do one day a week shift relief on the “0” Service and believe you me it was manic. One instance does come to mind while doing a relief on the 0 bus, as the terminus for the 0 Bus was the duck pond at Norton, the No.7 Bus used to come down Junction Road from Roseworth, and was timed in front of us, and Drivers were sticklers for making sure that if it was timed in front of you it did so!!! But in this instance it pulled in behind us leaving us to pick up half a bus load of passengers all bound for Stockton and the Bingo, so my driver not very happy with this arrives at Club Fiesta bus stop, with another large number of waiting passengers, only this time instead of stooping to pick them up drives straight past them, obviously thinking the No7 timed in front of us but travelling behind would pick them but he has other ideas and leaves them standing, resulting in both buses ignoring would be passengers all the way to Stockton Town Hall where two Inspectors were waiting for both Drivers. Needless to say a lot of Bingo sessions were missed that night, and both drivers suspended.

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  9. The famous O bus: I was sat on the nearside granny seat downstairs when it was approaching Bishopton Lane bus stop. Just before it did so a lady carrying a baby came down the stairs to get off the bus, I could see a pushchair stored under the stairs and assumed it must be hers – so when she stepped off the bus with the baby, I gallantly picked up this pushchair and placed it on the pavement for her – then jumped back on the bus to continue my journey. Several stops later another lady came down the stairs carrying a baby and not finding her pram under the stairs started shouting “Someone’s stolen my pushchair.” I was so embarrassed I sat there looking through the window and saying now’t.

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  10. I used to get The 0 bus to Middlesbrough when I worked at Middlesbrough General Hospital during my student holidays. Travelled on the bus a lot. Sandra Dover, Rotherham

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  11. I wonder if the 0 bus route could be the same as the 00? I remember when I was a kid bus stop signs near Roseworth, I think that it was the road from Norton, showed a 00 and I’m not sure if it was a United or Cleveland Transit route as I never actually saw the bus just the sign. At that time all buses where United or Transit although some United’s if coming from Sunderland or Newcastle where joint with Northern General. That 0 looks like some municipal operation prior to Transit guessing Stockton or Middlesbrough since I don’t think Thornaby ever had it’s own buses?

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  12. I remember it well. Station off to the left. Drove Tommy Rea’s taxis from the station rank. Put in some long hours. Also drove wedding cars & funeral cars

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  13. In the 50’s I was at Richard Hind School and if we missed the school bus to Norton we had to walk into Stockton and catch either to O, 6, or 7 bus.

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  14. I worked as a bus conductor for Stockton Corporation Transport back in 1965. I could have been worked that bus during my time there, and could have been working it that day. Who knows? It was hard work, but the money was good for an 18 year old. The “O” service was busy one every 4 minutes and each could be fully loaded as it left Stockton High Street or Middlesbrough Town Hall. The trip from Doggy market place to Middlesbrough Town Hall could be manic, trying to collect fares on such a short trip and within each “Fare Stage” to keep the tickets issued correctly so inspectors could monitor excess travel. One day I was on the upper deck when a passenger got on at the old postal sorting office, to travel one stop to the Town Hall. When the bus stopped at the Town Hall an Inspector got on and the passenger above got off giving the inspector the full fare of 2d. Because I missed him by being upstairs collecting fares, he reported me and I was ducked my bonus for that week. No allowances were EVER made for honest omissions. After all we were driving Omnibuses; the fact that we conductors didn’t have Omnipresence carried no valid excuse for missing a fare.

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  15. I remember the service well from the 1950s. Sometimes you could wait at the Thornaby 5 Lamps stop for 20 mins then 3 would come along together. The service was famous for what became part of Thornaby’s folklore.

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    • I agree, I used to take the O bus from Bridge Road at the bottom of Parliament Street to my work at the Dorman Long Research Centre at Newport Bridge. Sometimes a queue of us would wait for like half an hour and then three or four of them would show up at once! Very frustrating! Didn’t know where the one every four minutes came from!

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