I was used to walking.
While I was at school I seldom had much
money and when I did I tried not to waste
it on bus fares. So the idea of becoming
a postman was not all that strange. Of course
I had not considered the weight of the mailbag
or the cold, wet winter mornings. I had
no idea if I would even be given the job
but I set off for the city centre ready
to give it a go.
At that time I lived in
Winchester near the prison. Our neighbours
included police officers and prison warders.
If I had not considered either of these
professions it was probably because I had
not been encouraged at any point to think
about my future or to plan a career. Until
I was seven years old we had lived in Eastleigh
which was a railway town. If we had stayed
there I would quite possibly have looked
to the railways for work. I did not have
any wish to be a train driver but did at
one time like the idea of being a guard.
My mother's father spent
a lifetime in the railway works, first in
Ashford and then from the 1930s in Eastleigh.
My great, great grandfather, John Ware,
had been a driver for the London Chatham
and Dover Railway (LCDR). In June 1884 he
and his fireman were killed when they ran
into the rear of a stationary train at Deal
in Kent. The company was criticised for
having outdated signals showing a white
light for clear instead of green but a signalman
was held to blame for the accident.
I headed for the bus stop. Why was I going
to catch the bus and not walk? I have absolutely
no idea. The fact that I did was to change
my life for ever. The main road near my home
was served by the local King Alfred bus company.
This was the country's only privately owned
city bus service.
distance buses were run by Hants and Dorset,
Wilts and Dorset and Aldershot and District.
These three companies used the bus station
while King Alfred buses stopped outside in
Alfred routes 4, 4a, 6 and 16 operated along
Romsey Road with just one bus each hour on
the joint Hants and Dorset, Wilts and Dorset
66 service. If I had caught any of the King
Alfred buses I would have got off in the Broadway
and walked round the corner to the post office.
first bus to arrive was a 66.