Memories of school bus travel

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Martin2012

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For those members who travelled to school by bus what was your journey like? Did you have a bus or a coach for your journey and if you had a bus was it a single or double decker? Did you travel on a route where there was a scramble for the back seat (or where the oldest pupils sat there as a rite of passage)? Does anyone have any memories of any incidents that occured during a journey?
 
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Mcr Warrior

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Probably was a Leyland Titan double decker (the old one's with a rear platform).

If the bus came to a halt (or slowed down sufficiently) at a strategically placed zebra crossing on the way home after school, one could jump off, thus shaving a good couple of hundred yards off the walk home.

Favourite seat for me would be the sideways facing seats near the rear platform on the lower deck.

Upstairs was generally the preserve of those who liked a ciggie or two on the way home (and so stunk of stale smoke accordingly!)
 

Clydeflyer

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I was thinking of starting a similar thread. Now I am work from home I see the school buses here pass me every day... the usual collection of 15-year-old buses and coaches living out their later years before the scrap yard doing SPT school contracts, but for a period the young ones of Inverclyde were living it up on Temporal Travel's Neoplan Starliner 2!

I on the other hand was transported about on whatever bus Northern Scottish/Strathtay Scottish could mobilise out of the Forfar depot in the late 1980s. The most memorable of all was a bus we called the prison bus because it had a section at the back that resembled a prison cell.. bars on the window and everything. It turns out it still lives to this day in the Glasgow Vintage Vehicle Trust restored back to it's original owner's livery. Below was the best picture I could find of it (image belongs to Kenny Barclay).

https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/24074239607
 

GusB

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I was thinking of starting a similar thread. Now I am work from home I see the school buses here pass me every day... the usual collection of 15-year-old buses and coaches living out their later years before the scrap yard doing SPT school contracts, but for a period the young ones of Inverclyde were living it up on Temporal Travel's Neoplan Starliner 2!

I on the other hand was transported about on whatever bus Northern Scottish/Strathtay Scottish could mobilise out of the Forfar depot in the late 1980s. The most memorable of all was a bus we called the prison bus because it had a section at the back that resembled a prison cell.. bars on the window and everything. It turns out it still lives to this day in the Glasgow Vintage Vehicle Trust restored back to it's original owner's livery. Below was the best picture I could find of it (image belongs to Kenny Barclay).

https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/24074239607
I think that bus was new to McBraynes, and the reason for the bars is probably because they carried mail as well as passengers.
 

TheGrandWazoo

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I was thinking of starting a similar thread. Now I am work from home I see the school buses here pass me every day... the usual collection of 15-year-old buses and coaches living out their later years before the scrap yard doing SPT school contracts, but for a period the young ones of Inverclyde were living it up on Temporal Travel's Neoplan Starliner 2!

I on the other hand was transported about on whatever bus Northern Scottish/Strathtay Scottish could mobilise out of the Forfar depot in the late 1980s. The most memorable of all was a bus we called the prison bus because it had a section at the back that resembled a prison cell.. bars on the window and everything. It turns out it still lives to this day in the Glasgow Vintage Vehicle Trust restored back to it's original owner's livery. Below was the best picture I could find of it (image belongs to Kenny Barclay).

https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/24074239607
That looks like one of the ex MacBraynes Bedfords that passed to Highland. I guess the rear was used for cargo etc in the most rural areas?

My school buses were generally poppy red Bristol REs (or red and white DP ones) and LHs, plus the odd VR. More interesting were the ones that were operated by local firms from the outlying villages, consisting mainly of fairly mature Leopards, Fords or Bedfords mainly with Plaxton (Panorama Elite or Supreme III bodies). All fairly standard.

However, remember seeing the "winds of change" when one operator purchased a pair of secondhand Plaxtons on Volvo B58s, whilst another then bought a brand new B10M with Jonckheere bodywork; it would've been used for continental coach trips (before budget flights, getting a coach from the North East to the Costa Brava etc) and used on schools in the winter months. It was like a spaceship had landed
 

johnnychips

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1970s at Stockport Grammar. School is about two miles south east of the town centre on the 92, now infamous 192, bus route. A Stockport Titan PD3 turns up, rear open back entrance, and we all piled on. The conductress was pushed off, and one of the students pushed ‘two bells’ so the bus set off without her. Of course we all knew the convention that ‘three bells’ was full bus, so we did this at every stop. We got off at Stockport and saw the conductress, somewhat flustered, turn up on the next bus five minutes later. Fortunately for us she did not report the matter to the school. It was quite a strict establishment and there would have been hell to pay.
 

Cambus731

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In my first tear at Comprehensive the wayvthe diagrams worked meant that we caught a Bristol Lodekka FLF there and a Leyland National back. Unless I got in any kind of trouble in which case I'd be coming home on the Lodekka
as well.
In my second year the FLFs had been withdrawn so it was VR to school then a National back. But the VR was replaced by a National midway through the school year.
In my 3rd year VRs had been reintroduced on another route going to tje school so I'd go to school on that. Then a National home. I left Comprehensive one term into my third year to go to a boarding school
 

Ianno87

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Oh this takes me back!

Too numerous to mention everything we got, but our bus home in 1999/2000 was regularly run with (by then) ancient Stagecoach Ribble Leyland Nationals - clunky gear changes, black exhaust fumes and various bits falling off the bus.

Trying to recall the operators over the years on my school route:

Morning buses
Year 7 was either a Stagecoach Ribble double decker or a First Manchester Atlantean.
Year 8 Stagecoach was replaced by Coachmasters of Rochdale who (after not very long) were bought out by First.
Towards Year 11, ex-Glasgow Volvo Citybusses were the mainstay, with their loud whiny engines.

Afternoon buses
Year 7/8 Stagecoach Ribble, usually a Leyland leopard or similar
Became Lancashire United and then Blue Bus of Bolton,who would throw anything out (their ancient Leyland Leopard was the most fun)

In sixth form, became a South Lancs Travel route, where we were usually treated to the former Transpeak Volvo B10Ms with table seats!
 

Gloster

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I spent the years dedicated to education at a boarding school, so buses were limited to the beginning and end of term when we were taken to/collected from the nearest station (twenty something miles). The vehicles were a mixture of elderly, two-tone brown Duple-bodied Bedford and Ford Thames coaches from a now defunct Dorset operator. We were supposed to be organised with a mixture of ages in each vehicle so that the older boys could keep the younger ones in order. However, the seniors would fill up the the back of the bus and ignore the juniors, leaving it to the driver to (try to) keep order at the front. In truth the juniors tended not to be too badly behaved, but the seniors... Well, one or two of them might light up a cigarette (cough, cough, splutter) once they had checked that no master was going to join that bus.

The only incident I can remember was when we were still on the drive from the school and, when the driver changed gear at the top of a short rise, there was an unexpected mechanical noise and we came to stop. I don’t think we were much delayed as the driver stopped one of the other buses and a replacement vehicle arrived fairly soon. By then the driver was probably fed up with fifty snotty schoolboys singing, “Does the driver want a wee-wee, does the driver want a w*nk.”
 

robbeech

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I live in the next village to Johnson Brothers who for quite some time had a massive stock of Bristol VRs. They were used on the school runs so i had the luxury of them twice a day for my secondary school life. Treasured memory of that back axle whine.
I changed schools for the 6th form and ended up on a service bus (Stage Coach East Mids) for that. We had a mix of old and new olympians, the old (mid 80s) Leyland ones and the newer (mid 90's) Volvo ones being capable of getting up one of the hills and the later (early 90s) leyland ones being less that walking pace (literally) when it was full. I'm not sure if it was a gearing thing, the older ones were the semi auto ones.
 

Brooke

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Excellent idea for a thread!

When I was a kid on the Lizard, the school buses were run by Zoar Motors. I don’t know what they all were, but they generally were a bit smaller than the lanes they had to fit down! Here’s one (link to Flickr photo, not mine, of a Zoar bus): https://flic.kr/p/JjCMSS.

Then I moved to Yorkshire, with a much longer journey. This was run by Pride of the Road (and later Oakleaf). Thanks to Pride of the Road’s “varied” fleet, this could be almost anything. In the early days it was a coach, either a Plaxton Paramount or a much nicer Van Hool or Bova. Then after we’d trashed them too many times, it was a bus, either a new Ikarus or an ancient Leyland National. You get a fair idea of the variety of the fleet in these two period photos... (link to two Flickr photos, not mine, of PotR fleet line ups): https://flic.kr/p/pzy52A and https://flic.kr/p/2aVuMFE

I’ll try to note down some of the (many!) memorable incidents here at the weekend...
 

Ostrich

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I spent the years dedicated to education at a boarding school, so buses were limited to the beginning and end of term when we were taken to/collected from the nearest station (twenty something miles). The vehicles were a mixture of elderly, two-tone brown Duple-bodied Bedford and Ford Thames coaches from a now defunct Dorset operator.
Bere Regis Coaches, by any chance? They had a fascinating fleet of ancient Bedford OBs etc. It always seemed to me that you could drive through any hamlet in Dorset and guarantee that at the end of it, there'd be a Bere Regis school bus or two outstationed in a field or farmyard .....:lol:
 

Gloster

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Bere Regis Coaches, by any chance? They had a fascinating fleet of ancient Bedford OBs etc. It always seemed to me that you could drive through any hamlet in Dorset and guarantee that at the end of it, there'd be a Bere Regis school bus or two outstationed in a field or farmyard .....:lol:
Indeed it was them. I think the OBs would have gone by then: it would have been SBs in the mid-1970s.
 

leedslad82

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I went to high school in 90's . Our school buses were mainly deckers and operated by yorkshire rider or west riding using normal service buses. The elder kids always had the back seat and each year you moved further to the back.
The west riding buses on an afternoon tended to come off a local service route, did our school then went on to do another schools services
 

paulmch

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We had an eclectic mix of coaches and old double deckers, including some that had come from Dublin Bus complete with posters in Irish that hadn't been taken down yet!

I was secretly disappointed as I got older and my "place" on the bus was further towards the back - I enjoyed sitting right at the front and watching the driver work as a younger kid.
 

Tempest3K

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I had the joys of a Wilts & Dorset Bristol VR in the mornings and Leyland National in the afternoons on service 665 (although occasionally we'd get a random NatEx coach appear instead which was a lot more comfortable!). The VR down the hill into Wilton (Wiltshire) at 60 was always fun :)
 

njtruscott

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Had several operators through school and college in the late 80’s and early 90’s. Lidgey’s Coaches, Link Services, Truronian, Cocks Travel, Truronian for school then moving onto college a split journey with R&M Motors and Lidgey’s during the first year and R&M, Lidgey’s and Truronian during second year.

Plenty of vehicle types over those seven years including Bedford YMT’s, Ford R Series, Volvo B10M, Bristol LH, Van Hool, LAG, Berkoff, Transit
 

swifty

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We went through a phase of having a motley collection of various Mercedes breadvans run by Durbins/South Gloucestershire Bus (or dodgy Durbins as they were fondly known!) complete with loose seats, holes in the floor/roof etc. We’d also sometimes have the short wheelbase Volvo B6 L84 CNY - that was a interesting bus with a very bouncy ride!

Then we progressed to bigger vehicles and had PSU 527, one of the ex Badgerline B10M/Van Hools for a while, followed by one of SGBs ex MoD Tigers and then ex Bus Eireann B10M/Plaxton Excalibur which were futuristic compared to the rest of the fleet at the time.

We then moved onto various Dart SLFs and ex London and ex Cardiff Optare Excels, which are still the worst buses I’ve ever travelled on, they were on the 312 and 533 routes during the day.

The highlight for me were the K-VYN batch of Volvo engined Lynx, they were hellfire and had a nice whine when held between gears! Others highlights were the C-EUH and F-JTY batch of Olympians, the ex AirLink N-UHP Olympians and the early ex demo Lance pair with Plaxton and Northern Counties bodywork in the ‘Orange’ mobile livery.

We then moved onto various Dart SLFs and ex London and ex Cardiff Optare Excels, which are still the worst buses I’ve ever travelled on, they were on the 312 and 533 routes during the day.

Does anyone have any memories of any incidents that occured during a journey?

I remember once our bus broke down en route to school and to cover they called in a Lynx that was operating another route to our school. It rerouted to pick up the stranded passengers and continue the last few stops on the original buses route and ended up with 80+ people crammed in! And the time we noticed the bus we were about to get didn’t have any tax....

Also thinking about it... the routes have a strange quirk of never technically changing hands, but being operated by two of the big four. The original Durbins operations started the routes, they sold out to First in 95 and became the First Durbin unit, First sold back to Durbin in 2001(?) and SGBC were formed, before selling to Stagecoach in 2019.
 
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Non Multi

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1996-1997: Apple Coaches, Slough. (Various e.g. Caetano Cutlass with 3x2 seating), route mainly sub-contracted to: Jay Cee of Windsor (Plaxton Paramount). Always played the Chris Tarrant breakfast show, Capital 95.8 FM.

1997-2000: Beeline, Centrewest/FirstBus (National Mk1*, Wright Renault RW S75*, Leyland Lynx Mk1*, Wright Handybus/Dart*, Pointer Dart Mk1)
AIUI, Beeline offered Bucks County Council to operate the school service for free.

One hapless pupil managed to take a bus out of service by dropping their GCSE cooking on the floor.

Younger kids loved thumping the 1990s moquette covered bench seats, bringing up plumes of dust, as well as climbing and swinging from the grab poles and overhead straps.

2001 - 2002: Chalfont Coaches of Southall
(VanHool Alizee/Volvo B10M, early and late 1990s variants). The newer coaches did their National Express work and were first rate. Bizarre experience of traveling home listening to the live radio commentary of the 9/11 attacks.

Stand in: BS Coaches (Plaxton Supreme*) n.b. the white headrest antimacassars couldn't hide what a musty heap it was.

The asterisked vehicles were, of course, sheds.

Sixth formers usually sat in the rear rows regardless of operator.
 

GusB

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This thread has been an interesting read so far, especially as everyone recalls different eras. It's fortunate that I don't feel quite so old when I read another's recollections of travelling to school on front-engined Leyland Titans! ;)

I suppose my interest in buses probably stems from my travel to and from school. When I started primary school, the morning bus was often red and grey as opposed to yellow and cream (which all the others were). I think this was probably a Highland Scottish vehicle, most likely a Willowbrook-bodied Ford which had been pinched for a the school run in between turns on the joint Elgin - Aviemore service. The only other vehicle type that I can really remember was a Duple Viceroy coach (I knew it was one of those because I had a Dinky model) which was also probably a Ford. As for the return journey, I remember bright autumn afternoons and seeing Duple Dominant and Alexander T-type coaches waiting for us outside the school. They were Leyland Leopards, although I had no way of knowing it then, which were fairly new at the time.

After six months we moved and my new school was within walking distance of the house. While I didn't have to take the bus any more, other kids were still bussed in from the neighbouring village. The usual fare was something with an Alexander Y-type body - most likely to be a Ford, but there was probably the occasional Leopard too. One of my last memories of the Albion Vikings was seeing them drive off up the hill from the school; I remember them because they had the radiator grilles at the back and had smaller rear light clusters than the other Y-types. I also recall one particularly icy morning where one of the Fords couldn't make it up the school brae and had to reverse back before taking a run at it!

From Primary 4 onwards we were taken to the swimming pool once a week. I suppose this is when we had the most variety, and when my interest really took off. Y-type Fords and Leopards were the norm, and sometimes we'd have a Leopard/Duple Dominant. NPE44 (RRS44R) was a regular, and it would remain a regular vehicle on my journeys until I left school. At some point there must have been a rearranging of the diagrams, because after a while we started getting something different on our swimming trips: Tigers! They didn't look much different to the Dominant II Leopards that were kicking about, but I thought the sound of the TL11 was magical. I assume there was a gap between duties on the Inverness - Aberdeen service, because they all had "A" (Aberdeen) depot codes instead of "E" (Elgin) and they carried Scottish Citylink livery. Two of them actually carried "Scottish Holidays" fleetnames on the side. On a few occasions we had one of the then-new TC-types which looked very futuristic with their bonded glazing and plug doors; I recall a few of us being fascinated with how the mechanism worked. On one occasion they sent one of the Duple Goldliner bodied "London Tigers" which carried the Saltire livery and on another we were treated to the boxy, but very smooth and quiet MCW Metroliners. These coaches all had reclining seats - also a novelty to us at the time - but the teachers used to yell at us to leave them alone.

Fast forward a few years and I had to travel on the regular service bus to school. It was 1986 and while de-regulation hadn't happened yet, it was only a couple of months away. Leyland Olympians were very much the order of the day, and at peak times they could be rammed. We had a few Olympians that were allocated locally - some of the TSO-X ECW batch with semi-automatic Hydracyclic gearboxes, and a handful of the B-LSO batch with Voith transmissions. At the time some of the Aberdeen buses were being repainted from the green/cream "Grampian Scottish" livery into the new Aberdeen "Citybus" colours and a few were sent our way to speed up the process. Most went back to Aberdeen, but as a new batch of dual-door Olympians had been delivered to Aberdeen, we were left with a few. They had the somewhat jerky fully-automatic Hydracyclic transmissions. OMS910W, one of the B45 prototypes, was among them and became a permanent allocation until its departure for Clydeside. I recall seeing the little blue box of tricks in the luggage compartment under the stairs and had worked out that it must have had something to do with the transmission because of the LEDs that lit up whenever the bus changed gear.

After a while we stopped having 'deckers on the route. There was a brief period where a service called the Buchan Highlander ran from (I think) Fraserburgh or Peterhead to Inverness and the vehicle on our morning run usually went on to do that. The usual allocation was a coach-seated Leopard with either a Duple Dominant or Alexander T-type body, although occasionally we'd have one of the Y-types that had been refitted with coach seats. With that came a different group of drivers; they were in the "coast" (305 service) group who were all quite senior and many of them had no fear. There were certainly some "spirited" journeys in the mornings!

Other buses that featured on my route were P-type Leyland Tigers and the Dennis Lancets with the same body, along with a motley collection of Y-type Leopards that had been acquired from Central, Midland and Western. We also had a few National 2s that were normally used for the town service, but they'd occasionally escape onto the more rural routes.

Towards the end of my school years we were briefly visited by the ex-Highland Ailsas as they headed back to their Fife home, and the early Stagecoach days saw RRM-X and HNE-V Leopards brought up from Cumberland and Ribble respectively. Then, in my last few months of school, the J-FPS batch of Dennis Drats was introduced...
 

Mcr Warrior

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This thread has been an interesting read so far, especially as everyone recalls different eras. It's fortunate that I don't feel quite so old when I read another's recollections of travelling to school on front-engined Leyland Titans!
We're all getting older, but to be fair, these particular buses did seem rather old, even at the time! :rolleyes:
 

M60lad

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While I lived local to the School I went to it was on split sites so when I was at Upper Building I used to catch the Bus Home and when Stotts (Oldham) did it it it used to vary what bus I got home, sometimes it would be an ex West Midlands Fleetline other times it could be one of the ex West Yorkshire Fleetlines.

I also remember in the past when Maynes (Manchester) had their ex London DMS's depending on the School and how the kids behaved you would always get the rowdy ones that loved to hang out the upstairs windows.

Now I never went to the School but I remember when Stagecoach Manchester had their tri-axle ex Hong-Kong Olympians on Magicbus services there is a School at the end of one of the routes and I remember waiting for a Magicbus once into Manchester and a Magicbus turned up and one kid piped up to his mates to let it go and to get the bus behind as you can hang out the windows on that one.
 

TheGrandWazoo

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We're all getting older, but to be fair, these particular buses did seem rather old, even at the time! :rolleyes:
I think that's just a product of your age at the time - old people (e.g. >50) looked really old, and so did the buses.

I remember flat-fronted ECW REs seeming archaic when, in reality, they were being withdrawn and scrapped at 11/12 years old; the equivalent today would be a late model Mk1 Volvo Wright Eclipse or an e300 (though if they're a Stagecoach MAN, they probably are scrapped)
 

Eyersey468

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I lived on the Isle of Wight for a few years and when I was at Cowes High School I remember us having a H reg Wright bodied Dennis Javelin (H840 DDL) that was so low geared drivers would set off in 2nd or 3rd gear as if they set off in 1st it was at full revs as soon as it was rolling
 

Ken H

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I was at school 1961 - 74

There was a school bus when I was 5. It was a Leeds City Transport (LCT) back loader, and was rammed with kids. Then a bit later they changed the non school bus route near home so I used that instead. But still rammed full of kids, from 5 yr olds to 6th form girls going to the single sex grammar.
I soon sussed that walking home meant 2d to spend on sweeties, so unless the weather was foul, thats what I did.
From primary we went swimming at Meanwood baths. They rammed on over 80 kids on a LCT double decker, 3 to a seat. (There were 44 in my primary school class - height of the baby boom)
Secondary school was either a bus or I walked. Bus wasn't that much help really. the bus was the 20/21 along Street Lane in Leeds, and again at school chucking out time the back loaders were rammed, with kids standing on the platform. I think the conductors just hid! I remember some kids made long commutes by bus each day, some going into town and back out.
Field trips at secondary were usually the oldest coaches. I seem to remember some breakdowns. We took one coach to Arran in the Clyde Estuary

of course we jumped off moving buses, rang the bells, and played with the back desty.

When i was 13/14 pay as you enter buses started, but there were back loaders with conductors on the busy routes into the 70's
 

mlambeuk

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York city and district Hoppa minibuses, for the first two years, A rugby scrum to get on them amount of people got left behind. Then replaced with normal sized double/ single deckers.
 

Shimbleshanks

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One of our school playgrounds at Ysgol Syr Thomas Jones in Amlwch was transformed into a coach station every morning and afternoon to get the kids to and from school. It was a rural area and the majority of the kids commuted quite a few miles; very few travelled in their parents' cars in the 1970s. There were about a dozen coaches, mostly supplied by OR Jones of Llanfaethlu, for whom the school contract must have been an important part of their business. For a while at least, the Llanychymedd kids had an ancient double-decker bus, while a mini-coach operated to the Llanfairynghornwy area, I think because the full-sized vehicles couldn't get down the narrow lanes. A few of the regular Crosville services also diverted to the school at the relevant times.

I never sampled the delights of the bussing operation, being one of the minority that lived in Amlwch itself, though I have happy memories of school trips, hammering down the Abergele bypass at 85mph with 50-plus kids on board. Imagine that happening today...
 

cnjb8

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Mines a lot less interesting, the same Volvo Olympian with an Alexander body every day. Some weird stuff happened on it as per usual
 

ChilternTurbo

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I used to get taken to infants school on a 1982 Leyland Leopard with rather unusual Duple Goldliner(?) bodywork. I never liked that coach as I was too short to see out of the windows! Mr Corbel would be driving it with his wife Margaret acting as hostess/security guard. I remember seeing that coach again in the early 90's in new ownership and it seemed to be suffering from pretty bad bodywork corrosion, despite being only around 10 years old. Here it is on Flickr
I preferred it later when I was old enough to catch the bus and my transport was the then ubiquitous London Metrobus. Metrobuses have been a favourite of mine ever since, I always liked the rather melodic noises they made!
 
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richw

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When I started secondary school at Falmouth, the school was split over 2 sites a mile or so apart. In 2002 the main site had extensions completed to close the second smaller site.
We had a shuttle bus between sites from 1999 when I joined until 2002. The shuttle bus was supplied by Truronian and was a double decker, 95% of the time a Bristol VR, and the other 5% was a Leyland Olympian. I now work for Truronian and have colleagues who recall driving the Falmouth school intersite shuttle bus and tell stories of some of the misbehaving children on the shuttle
 
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