I am sure that many of the site visitors will remember seeing the Christmas Bus in their childhood. It was always a thrill to see it driving past as it showed Christmas was very near.
I worked in the electric shop at Teesside Municipal Transport in Church Road in the late 1960s and I remember the Christmas bus being prepared. It was a joint effort between the paint shop and the electric shop with help from the mechanical boys.
I wasn’t involved being third electrician, I got the cold and wet jobs alongside the apprentice, Bryan Archer, I know Bryan visits this site so if you see this Bryan send a comment!
Photograph and details courtesy of Bruce Coleman.
I loved that Christmas bus. I used to let several buses go by in town, in case it came along, but only got on it a couple of times. One of the great signs of Christmas, along with the tree and the toy displays in Robinson’s and Leslie Brown’s windows.
I’m hoping you may be able to help with a long running family debate as to whether the Christmas bus ran on Christmas Day. I married into a family from the Stockton area and each Christmas a few of them swear the bus ran on Christmas Day, whereas the rest think they’re mad and can’t believe it would be in service on 25 December. Please can you settle this dispute?
Lovely picture! The 4A to Fairburn. I recall using that service to visit my grandparents in Raby Road, near Grangefield School, but in July or August rather than December.
Oh the Christmas bus I’d forgotten all about it no.4 my bus home to Fairfield totally amazing as a kid it was magic if it was on your route loved it. Marilyn Scott
Brings to mind ‘The Magic Bus’ by The WHO.
In the late ‘50s early ‘60s getting the Christmas bus and watching Santa come into Stockton Station on his way to Robinsons was a key part of the build up to Christmas. Throw in some chestnuts from the market to roast on the open fire and you would be ready for the big day.
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Is my memory deceiving me, or did the conductors use seasonal ticket paper with the edges printed with green holly and red berries?
Bruce, thanks for this picture. I remember the Christmas Bus… and if you actually got on it, what a treat. I wonder if you remember my brother? Keith Thomas, who I believe was known as “Tommy” by his mates in the shed. He was a mechanic on the buses and had to be certified to drive the buses to bring a disabled bus back to the shed. He moved his family to Australia and drove the buses there – now retired. For him driving them was more fun than fixing them, I guess.
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I didn’t know your brother, I only worked in the garage for about a year and there wasn’t much mixing among the different trades, the electric shop, diesel shop & machine shop were all together in one corner of the garage, the mechanics & body bashers were in a different area.
Bryan Archer may remember him and another Picture Stockton Visitor Eddie Rose may also know of your brother.
Hi Bryan Archer here yes I worked with your brother in the Garage, I have also met him over here in Perth where I live now, We met him at a Barbeque at Colin Manns house. They live quite a distance from me and I have not seen them since we first arrived here, I think Colin is a member on the Stockton Website.
Hello Bryan… you mention Colin Mann, is it the same Colin Mann that lived in Newham Grange with a sister called Bridget? They lived around the corner from us.
Hi Bryan Archer here, yes I can fill you in on the Christmas bus. During my apprenticeship I was mesmerised by the features inside the Christmas bus, designed and installed by my then Workshop supervisor Mr Charles Betts, he was a wizard with mechanical displays powered by wiper motors and chain drives. The cake on the radiator was worked by the stop light switch. I think there was an abundance of ex war department parts and that is what went into the displays. My job was to put the bus on charge, there was no alternators then and the dynamo could not keep up with the extra demand with all the extra lighting. So the bus would not last a full shift and had to come in to the depot for a charge.
The bus was a big hit with the kids with a nativity display downstairs, and the 3 kings on camels on the upper deck. The flashing lights were powered by a indicator relay no solid state components in that era. I found it a pleasure and would look forward to Christmas time for that reason. Sadly I don’t think any bus company could afford to put on something like that these days, but I would like to be proven wrong. Bryan
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Many thanks for that, brilliant.
I bet your weather is somewhat better than ours at the moment, I can see you sitting in the sun with a “Tinny” in your hand, me, I am in the throes of putting the roof back on our storm damaged shed on the allotment. Such Is Life.
High Bruce, yes you are right we are expecting 42 degrees Christmas day and boxing day. We would love to come back to Teesside at Christmas unfortunately we would not be able to get back home due to covid. Hope you get your shed fixed. Merry Christmas from Australia.