Hold Tight! - Introduction
Chapter 1
Page 1
Hold Tight!
Chapter 1
1 Introduction
2 Dedication
3 No son of ours
4 Wrong number
5 All change
6 Sign this, fill that
1 Beginnings
2 Learning
3 Getting Away
4 Winchester
5 Freedom
6 Southampton
7 City Transport
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I worked as a bus conductor from October 1967 until June 1983. Like many people at the time, I had come to the job looking for something temporary and got hooked. It was a job that is now hard to describe. In part this is because, except in London, conductors have become extinct but it is also because the times have changed so much.

Being a bus conductor, or a driver for that matter, was unlike most other occupations. Although there were rules and regulations to observe, with an army of inspectors ready to catch you if you did not, you spent most of your time working unsupervised. There was always the prospect of something out of the ordinary happening and if today it failed to do so there were plenty of passengers to liven up the journey.

Most of the companies and corporations which used to operate our buses have now vanished or been absorbed into a few nationwide groups. The variety of once familiar liveries and vehicle designs is now the domain of enthusiasts who preserve and display this part of our heritage. Maybe at some point in the future today's buses will be remembered with the same kind of nostalgia but, like vintage cars or steam engines, there is something distinctive about the kind of bus that needed two people to run it.

This is the story of my small and, for most of the time at least, enjoyable part in this history. Starting with the Hants and Dorset company in Winchester and ending with the City Transport Department in Southampton, I travelled all over southern Hampshire in my work and made trips around Europe during my time off. The journey from teenager to mature (?) thirty-something begins and ends with a crisis. But what to make of the bit in between?

I do not pretend that these pages contain a definitive history but rather give a flavour of the job and the times. Some of the information about operators, routes and locations is from (a possibly defective) memory and is hard to verify after all these years. Where possible, links have been supplied to other sites which may prove helpful.

It has not been possible to include everything that happened over the sixteen years in this short history. All the stories are true but, to respect people's privacy, some of the details have been left out.
I had a great time working on the buses, a job I could happily still be doing today if that had been possible. Writing this account of my adventures and misadventures has given me the chance to relive some of the best bits. I hope you too will find the journey interesting.
The first chapter describes how I came to apply for the job, one that I had never considered before. After that, the journey begins as I learn the ropes and use the job to move away and to travel more widely.
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