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Tips for researching an historic operator

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jammy36

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A slightly unusual question, but I thought perhaps any answers/advice provided might be of interest to others.

I’ve maintained a long interest in public transport and buses in particular, but this has largely been observational and limited to on-line sources – joining in with forums such as this one, reading articles on-line, looking at photos on Flickr, keeping up to date with industry news, etc. I’ve never for example been a member of a society or group.

The passing of time has meant I’ve been thinking a little of the buses of my youth – I think this nostalgia element creeps up on lots of us (!) and would like to do a little more first-hand research into a particular company and its history, but I really don’t know where to start (the company in question happens to be Jennings of Bude, Cornwall)…

I’ve not noted any readily available written account of the company. Has anyone else on the forum carried out research into a historic company from scratch and, if so, where is best to start? Here I’m thinking of researching the history of the company itself as well as the routes it operated and fleet history.

I know there are organisations like the PSV Circle, but I’ve never been a member (the idea of mailed-out newsletters and printed publications seems outdated in the internet age) and don’t know what level of information they might hold.

There are also places like the West Country Historic Omnibus & Transport Trust (WHOTT) and the Bus Archive, but again I’m not sure these are the right places to start looking and their archives are respectively a 250 and 300 mile round trip from where I’m now based, which I don’t think will be feasible (certainly not at present).

So has anyone carried out research into a company – or even written a company history – any tips for where best to start, resources to consult, etc.

TLDR – I’d like to carry out some historical research into a company by don’t know where best to start!
 
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Titfield

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There are multiple places you can start - indeed you have named some of them yourself.

Whilst some sources may be more fruitful than others there is no telling until you start researching.

I would probably contact / look at:

1. PSV Circle for fleet details.
2. Bus Archive
3. Local history society in Bude - that area of Cornwall.
4. Local newspaper (you could put an appeal in the paper via the letters to the editor page for any former employees etc etc).
5. Local Newspaper archive
6. Cornwall County Archives
7. Old Copies of Buses Magazine / Buses Yearbook / Annual.
8. An appeal in Classic Bus Magazine.

Many archives are not full indexed / referenced so you may have the problem of going to visit it and being confronted with just wading through mountains of stuff.

Im not sure what WCHOTT hold if any of the sort of information you require but still worth an email.

I wonder if all the route licence details (pre deregulation are held anywhere?)
 

DaveLondon

Member
Joined
5 May 2019
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100
A slightly unusual question, but I thought perhaps any answers/advice provided might be of interest to others.

I’ve maintained a long interest in public transport and buses in particular, but this has largely been observational and limited to on-line sources – joining in with forums such as this one, reading articles on-line, looking at photos on Flickr, keeping up to date with industry news, etc. I’ve never for example been a member of a society or group.

The passing of time has meant I’ve been thinking a little of the buses of my youth – I think this nostalgia element creeps up on lots of us (!) and would like to do a little more first-hand research into a particular company and its history, but I really don’t know where to start (the company in question happens to be Jennings of Bude, Cornwall)…

I’ve not noted any readily available written account of the company. Has anyone else on the forum carried out research into a historic company from scratch and, if so, where is best to start? Here I’m thinking of researching the history of the company itself as well as the routes it operated and fleet history.

I know there are organisations like the PSV Circle, but I’ve never been a member (the idea of mailed-out newsletters and printed publications seems outdated in the internet age) and don’t know what level of information they might hold.

There are also places like the West Country Historic Omnibus & Transport Trust (WHOTT) and the Bus Archive, but again I’m not sure these are the right places to start looking and their archives are respectively a 250 and 300 mile round trip from where I’m now based, which I don’t think will be feasible (certainly not at present).

So has anyone carried out research into a company – or even written a company history – any tips for where best to start, resources to consult, etc.

TLDR – I’d like to carry out some historical research into a company by don’t know where best to start!
Your comments on PSV Circle are somewhat outdated. Electronic news sheets available and to be honest MOST properly researched efforts are still in printed form as you rarely get quality for nowt! Plenty of stuff on line but often superficial or poorly researched.
 

jammy36

Member
Joined
28 Aug 2013
Messages
301
There are multiple places you can start - indeed you have named some of them yourself.

Whilst some sources may be more fruitful than others there is no telling until you start researching.

I would probably contact / look at:

1. PSV Circle for fleet details.
2. Bus Archive
3. Local history society in Bude - that area of Cornwall.
4. Local newspaper (you could put an appeal in the paper via the letters to the editor page for any former employees etc etc).
5. Local Newspaper archive
6. Cornwall County Archives
7. Old Copies of Buses Magazine / Buses Yearbook / Annual.
8. An appeal in Classic Bus Magazine.

Many archives are not full indexed / referenced so you may have the problem of going to visit it and being confronted with just wading through mountains of stuff.

Im not sure what WCHOTT hold if any of the sort of information you require but still worth an email.

I wonder if all the route licence details (pre deregulation are held anywhere?)
Thank you @Titfield some really useful tips there and some things that I hadn't thought of. Gives me some idea as to where to start, albeit physically visiting archives might be a sticking point (distance and cost).

I'm pretty certain that Jennings of Bude featured in the book "The Independent Bus" (c1970). The chapter on them being titled "Railless West"
Yes @martinsh I had seen reference to that elsewhere and have a copy on order

Your comments on PSV Circle are somewhat outdated. Electronic news sheets available and to be honest MOST properly researched efforts are still in printed form as you rarely get quality for nowt! Plenty of stuff on line but often superficial or poorly researched.
Sorry @DaveLondon if my comments on PSV Circle are outdated. I did look on their website, but couldn't see any options for digital only membership? I will try and drop the membership secretary an email. Do you know if you can access historical new sheets, etc? Most of the references on their website seemed to be about receiving new information/journals, etc going forward, but presumably it is possible to access historical data, but I wan't sure how far back this went?

Appreciate your comments on paying for information and I'm more than happy to incur reasonable costs to do so - it was more a question of knowing where best to start. Agree that information on-line can be poorly researched, but the same too for printed material. Anyhow in this case I was thinking more about original research, rather than relying on the research of others (not least because researched efforts by others seem scarce for this operator).


Thanks all for input - hopefully the responses have been of interest to others also.
 

richw

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10 Jun 2010
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11,255
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Liskeard
Psv circle i believe sell individual sheets on specific areas/operators on a one off purchase as well without membership
 

TTS

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Joined
17 Jan 2021
Messages
19
Location
High Weald
Places I would look:

The PSV Circle website gives all subscription options, plus details of the large number of publications they sell. This includes old newsheets on CD-ROM, the Historic Journal (quarterly) which as the name suggests, is purely on historic topics and many fleet histories.

The Bus Archive already mentioned, is a vast resource for historical research with an online catalogue. They have Traffic Commissioners' Notices & Proceedings since the 1930 Road Traffic Act, these contain service registrations etc. Some have been digitised. You do have to go there (Walsall, Droitwich or Acton) for much material, though.

Roger Grimley's West Country Motor Buses His booklets cover many operators in the West Country (but not as yet, Jennings AFAIK).

Already mentioned are old newspapers - these are being scanned by the British Library and you can probably access them via your local library.

Directories - Motor Transport Year Book (full set at British Library - St Pancras) / Little Red Books.

~~~

It would be nice if everything was online and you could do historical research purely from your armchair, but we are not quite there yet. You do still have to travel to distant archives etc.

But in the meantime, W.J.O. Jenning Ltd., Morwenstow, Bude was certainly in business by 1959 with some minor rural routes. They took on an Okehampton - Halwill - Bude railway replacement service, consequent upon the railway closing on 3rd October, 1966. Keith Turns book "The Independent Bus" (1970) is quoted as containing a chapter on Jennings re. this. Getting hold of that book might be a good start.
 

Ken H

On Moderation
Joined
11 Nov 2018
Messages
6,365
Location
N Yorks
Increasing amount of old bus stuff on timetable world. check out the sticky thread at the top of this forum. timetableworld.com more stuff added each month.

look on wayback machine. archive.org - archive of websites. only relatively recent stuff but worth a look.
 
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