For a young bus enthusiast in the 1960s, the bus station on Garth Road was the gateway to Anglesey and many of the country routes behind Bangor. Such exciting places as Gerlan, Bethesda, Tregarth and Rhiwlas could be reached for modest fares using bus services provided by the 'buckingham green' Crosville buses. They also ran along the coast roads to Llandudno and Caernarfon; also on to Anglesey with destinations such as Holyhead, Beaumaris, Llangefni and Llanfairpwll. Their large, rear entrance double deckers of Bristol manufacture ran on the main roads with smaller single deckers in the country districts. There was a prevalent type of single decker with about 35 seats which the company called SSG's which were apparently very economical to run, but were VERY noisy and seemed to almost 'run out of puff' when aimed up anything steeper than an anthill. On any Saturday afternoon when heading up the narrow lanes with a full load of returning shoppers, families etc, their speed was 'walking pace' - but they always got to their destinations somehow.
If you were lucky and wanted to go to Conwy, one of Crosville's big, double decked cream coaches would appear and treat passengers to a high speed run on the dual carriageway at Aber. My, how they flashed along this bit of road at speeds of in excess of 50 mph!
One might, as an alternative, visit Llanfairpwll on the island - purchasing a special, long bus ticket with the village's name spelled in full upon it. Ok, so it cost 3d extra for this, but no ride then through the village seemed right without one of these keepsakes.
For a special treat, one could catch a Purple Motors bus from Garth Road, to Bethesda. They had an old Crossley double decker that was on it's last legs which was run to the quarry entrance just beyond the village. My, how it roared when starting off in 1st gear ! It was built in the late 40's, was very basic inside with leather seats for 56 (?) or thereabouts. The views on this route were spectacular, with mountains, rushing rivers and streams, quarries and glimpses of little steam trains hauling slate-loaded wagons. Similar old crocks ran to Deiniolen, owned by the local motor company. Their little wartime Bedford bus, painted in maroon and cream, gasped and wheezed its way up hill and down dale for many years. Sometimes the owner Mr Davies, would have to drive if someone was off, ill.
But it's the little Crosville half-cabbed single deckers that bring back the memories for me. Converted to one man operation by replacing the rear entrances at the front of the bus, they would be 'thrashed' along the road from Llandegai to Bethesda where they turned left, up a very steep hill past serried rows of quarrymens' cottages. With views of rugged mountainsides jewelled with sparkling streams, purple heather and vivid green grasses and sedges aplenty, this was a route of great beauty for the passengers. Most however, just wanted to get home away from their work or shopping, and 'put on the tea'.
The earliest buses had departed from Garth Road in the early 1920s. They were blue and white Bristols, Leylands and Dennis's (of low seating capacity - 25 or so), owned by the Royal Blue company. Other firms getting in on the act were Llangoed Red (who ran on to the island), U need Us from Llangefni and the Bethesda Grey Motor Company. It was often suggested that the UNU buses needed the downhill start on Garth Road to get their engines going as hand cranking wouldn't get their fleet of 'bangers' going! Similarly it was alleged that the ageing fleet of Vulcan buses owned by the 'Greys were painted thus because the proprietor was colourblind!
When the early cinemas disgorged their patrons on a Saturday night, the clamour to get to the buses home had to be seen to be believed. Well-oiled villagers carrying livestock, staggering through drink, eating chips and pies struggled onto the myriad painted vehicles which all departed about 10 o'clock for the countryside. Five pence fares to Bethesda on a Purple bus, fourpence halfpenny on the Greys, a shilling to Llangefni or sixpence halfpenny to Llanfairpwll; buses overloaded with passengers sometimes literally on their rooftops!
Yes, the picture of calm orderliness at Garth Road in 1965 was a credit to the old Crosville company who took over in the thirties from the early pioneers. With their well maintained and presented buses as seen in this photograph, they represent a period of comfortable accessibility by bus services long gone. Their drivers and conductors took a pride in their often difficult jobs. The local depot staff performed mechanical miracles in cold, wet and draughty depots. That's the story behind Garth Road bus station, seen on a summer's afternoon in your photograph.
A memory shared byon Apr 17th, 2009.
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