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Author Topic: Chartham Bus Service  (Read 9345 times)

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Offline Sentinel S4

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Re: Chartham Bus Service
« Reply #16 on: December 16, 2013, 16:58:43 »
I only remember them as one man operation, sorry but we moved to The Crescent in the winter of 1968/69. I have fond memories of these coaches being worked very hard. For all the effort in trying to be a professional outfit, to us they missed by a long way. The timetable was advisory rather than the law, the drivers (bless them one and all) were brilliant at getting 'time' back. They would short cut as well as stopping anywhere to do a pick-up. This was all lost when EK under the National Buses took over, sad really.

S4.
A day without learning something is a day lost and my brain is hungry. Feed me please.

Online Mickleburgh

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Re: Chartham Bus Service
« Reply #15 on: December 16, 2013, 16:12:15 »
Drews did not use `one man operation` on any regular basis until the final years. One well known conductress on the service, from at least the late `fifties to late `60s to my knowledge, was somewhat `broad in the beam` to my recollection. Wonder if any one with Chartham connections could enquire of older residents if they recall her name for inclusion in my history of the service, which will hopefully now appear in 2014. Names of any other staff, drivers, would also be useful. I knew, personally, Nigel Porter who joined them around 1965 and later went on to drive for Regents Coaches, working a Canterbury city service for several years. He died in 2000.

To answer Mikeb: the final Bedford purchased (1969) was dealer registered (hence `JAR`) and featured on manufacturers adverts. It was literally worked to death and went to a Sandwich scrapyard eventually.

Offline TowerWill

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Re: Chartham Bus Service
« Reply #14 on: August 10, 2013, 09:39:44 »
Right mikeb, that was a good few years later than when my mum and brother were hospital patients. Yes, I like the look of that bus too.
I was fortunate to be given a railway pass in 1981 when mum went back to the hospital for the last time, so I didn't use any bus service but took the trains to Chartham station (via Ashford). After visiting her I'd walk back to Canterbury East station for convenience.

Offline mikeb

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Re: Chartham Bus Service
« Reply #13 on: August 10, 2013, 09:11:22 »
The Bedford was bought new in 1969, and therefore probably ran until Drews finished in 1975. It represented quite an investment for such a small company and they clearly, at that time, saw a future for the service.

I do like the wheel trims!

I believe the bus may have started life as a demonstrator, or from dealer stock, these came at bargain prices. It carries a Hertfordshire registration not a Kent or Canterbury as may be expected if bought "brand new".

Offline TowerWill

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Re: Chartham Bus Service
« Reply #12 on: August 09, 2013, 21:54:05 »
Yes thanks Mikeb, that photo brings back memories for me too. What decade would that be? I see the bus has a two tone colour scheme.
Interesting to see how the spelling checker on this site shows 'colour' as the wrong spelling and the U.S. 'color' as correct. It's just where the software originates from I suppose.

Offline Sentinel S4

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Re: Chartham Bus Service
« Reply #11 on: August 01, 2013, 18:49:01 »
Thanks MikeB. That brings back an awful lot of memories......... All those classic EK busses as well as the Drew's Bus.

S4.
A day without learning something is a day lost and my brain is hungry. Feed me please.

Offline mikeb

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Re: Chartham Bus Service
« Reply #10 on: August 01, 2013, 18:28:18 »
Here's a Drews Bedford, but not the chinese six (VAL?) Bedford I'm afraid.

http://www.thebusgallery.co.uk/variouskentindependents/h1A42A9BB#h1a42a9bb

Online Mickleburgh

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Re: Chartham Bus Service
« Reply #9 on: August 01, 2013, 16:49:19 »
The origins of the `Chartham Bus Service` go back well beyond 1931, they were probably formalised into (approx) 14-seat buses by a man of Belgian extraction (born in Kent) who had worked in a garage in Castle St. pre-WW1 and then, after serving as an artillery spotter (balloon) in the middle east, joined with Ernest Skelding as garage proprietors, taking over his erstwhile employer. He left the partnership when the move was made to Central Garage, Rose Lane, c-1929/30. My guess is that the bus service evolved from people banding together to hire a private car from the garage, even pre-WW1.

I did take photographs of Drews buses at the hospital over the years but certainly the firm, obscurely located well away from the then St. Peters Bus Station by the Westgate Towers, entirely escaped the notice of early bus enthusiasts and vehicle recorders. It is very noticeable that the first known photos date from the construction period of the St. Georges Bus Station.

Offline TowerWill

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Re: Chartham Bus Service
« Reply #8 on: July 15, 2013, 07:22:12 »
Thankyou for that informative reply wayfarer4md.I was my late brother's carer and he also had been a patient at the hospital.Around 2000 i took him on a drive following the old bus route (where possible) right into the grounds of the former hospital.We saw how it had been redeveloped but i think the avenue of trees was still there.The Canterbury end of the route had been altered by the building of the bypass too.

wayfarer4md

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Re: Chartham Bus Service
« Reply #7 on: July 14, 2013, 23:15:53 »
The site of the former St Augustine's Hospital has been redeveloped in recent years into a residential area, and is now served by Stagecoach bus route 1A, with most journeys outside the peaks terminating at what is now known as Beech Avenue (although some peak journeys run through to Ashford).

Some of the original buildings (the main admin building, the chapel and the water tower) have survived although all are now converted into flats, and most of the remaining buildings were demolished and new housing built to a similar style. 

The bus stop at the terminal is outside the former admin building (identifiable by the clock tower).

The old hospital (known in less politically correct times as the East Kent Asylum, and later as Chartham Mental Hospital) was renamed St Augustine's Hospital during the NHS era from 1948, and finally closed in 1993.

Until 1974 bus services from Canterbury to the hospital were provided by independent operator Drew's Coaches, who also ran a more limited service to Chartham Hatch; various photographs exist of Drew's later vehicles parked between journeys in Canterbury Bus Station, but no-one ever seems to have photographed a Drew's vehicle at the Chartham end of the service, even outside the hospital grounds themselves.  Recent research has revealed that the service can be traced back to at least 1931, when it was being run by Ernest Skelding trading as Castle Motor Company, terminating at the Castle Hotel.  Until the dual carriageway via Rhodaus Town existed, this ran from Rose Lane direct via Castle Street to Ashford Road.  We now know that the service transferred ownership to William Drew in 1934, who took over a garage in Rose Lane.

Drew's ceased in December 1974 (after using hired-in vehicles for a time, their own fleet having been wound down and surviving vehicles often unavailable), and the routes to the hospital and to Chartham Hatch were taken over by East Kent who for a while numbered them 122 (Hospital via Chartham Station), 123 (Hospital via Larkey Valley) & 124 (Chartham Hatch, Wednesdays and Saturdays only).

Derek J

Online Mickleburgh

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Re: Chartham Bus Service
« Reply #6 on: June 10, 2013, 15:35:22 »
Many thanks for the replies. Drews were effectively victims of the 1942 blitz that destroyed their Rose Lane premises and the joke reparation payments that were only made a decade after the event. They occupied a `temporary` garage in Gravel Walk, lacking a roof, until the area was redeveloped in the early 1960s and thereafter had nowhere to properly maintain the vehicles. The last service bus purchased in 1969 was worked into the ground, seven days a week on service, so effectively that by 1975 the Traffic Commissioners stepped in, prohibited the vehicles and eventually ensured Drews were put out of business.
SentinelS4 refers to a `chinese six`, Drews had one of these and it only lasted from May `70 to Jan `73 before going to an Ashford operator. George Brice of Horton Cottages had several around this period.

mondeo

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Re: Chartham Bus Service
« Reply #5 on: June 07, 2013, 00:14:44 »
My sister corrected me that the name was Drew's as Sentinel S4 has correctly stated, she remembers the blue coach and has a book about east kent buses and on page twelve there is a picture of a EK double decker and in the pic is the rear of what she reckons is a Drew`s (blue) coach.
I remember the upholstery being red paisley for some reason, red/cream livery (?) and the sound of the coach going up Bolt's Hill, funny how things stick in one's mind.

Offline Sentinel S4

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Re: Chartham Bus Service
« Reply #4 on: May 31, 2013, 19:38:50 »
I lived in the Crescent at Chartham from 1969 to 1986 and remember the Drew's Buses well.

They ran several coaches of indeterminable age and design. There were a couple of Duple bodied Bedfords as well as a Chinese Six (another Bedford I think). They were well maintained and always clean, outside as well as in. The bus stand in the old St Georges Bus Station was the last one before the Riding Gate. They had two routes. One was via Cockering/Larkey Valley road to the Hospital, this was the 'Fast' run for Hospital staff. The second went Via Howfield Lane to Chartham Hatch School then back down Howfield to the A28 and to Chartham Village. Through the Village it went across the Level Crossing turning sharp right and along Parish Road to climb Bolts Hill. Turning out of Bolts Hill it went up Shalmsford Street and the Crescent to go up the Drive to the Centre. Basically the same as the modern bus service. The stops in the Village were, Hospital Centre (admin block where they turned), bottom of the Drive, Pomfret Road, Police Houses, The Slip, The Salvation Army Citadel, The British Legion (for the Primary School), The Queens Head and the Railway Station. There was only one stop in the Hatch and that was the School. Drew's never went around the Thanington estate, up St Nicholas Road and down Strangers Lane, however the 'fast' did stop at the Waterworks, Godwin Road and Strangers Lane to pick up Hospital Staff.

The drivers had a very 'flexible' approach to the time table and on many occasions when running late would cut down Hatch Lane to make up time. They were also an ideal 'local' company as they would stop anywhere on the route through the Village to pick up passengers. Prices were good as well, a child single from the bottom of the drive to the Primary School was, from 1970 to the end and East Kent taking over, 2p. East Kent put that up to 10p and we all walked! I used to hope for the Chinese Six as she looked brutal and so different from all the other buses that were about.

Drew's kept their fleet between Waltham and Petham and until recently, okay let us try 1987 recent, they still had the Chinese Six. Sadly she has now gone, possibly into preservation. The livery was non-existent. They were mainly Cream with a light blue stripe on one, a light green on another and a darker blue on the Chinese Six.

My Dad was an Engineer at the Hospital and in the late 1970's or early 1980's found the old Drew's timetable board. This is a well painted board detailing all the service options the company offered. They also did the Primary School Outings, we normally had one of the four wheelers for that. The Hospital did on occasion do an outing for the staff and that was generally one of the East Kent 'FN's', to us kids it was awesome to see a double decker going up the drive when we were used to the coaches of Drew's. He passed this onto a bus enthusiast who still owns it I believe. Many people in Chartham missed them when they stopped running, forced out by the National Bus Company take over of all the big companies. We then entered the era of bland liveries and even worse buses, the Leyland National for one.

I hope this helps a little.

S4.   
A day without learning something is a day lost and my brain is hungry. Feed me please.

mondeo

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Re: Chartham Bus Service
« Reply #3 on: May 30, 2013, 17:27:56 »
I lived in Chartham until 1976 and remember the coach service being called Druids Coaches. My older siblings may have memories of this service too. I have recollections of Saint Augustines as well. Message me if you would like to know more.

Offline TowerWill

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Re: Chartham Bus Service
« Reply #2 on: May 30, 2013, 17:14:56 »
I remember Dad and me going over to see Mum who was a patient at St. Augustines in the early 1960s. We'd take the double decker bus from Dover to Canterbury bus station on a saturday afternoon. I believe the bus station had it's buildings next to the old town wall back then. There was a bit of a wait for our coach to Chartham. I'm not sure of the coach colour now but possible paint jobs could have been blue, green or yellow with the coach maybe painted overall in just one colour. The name of Duple sticks in my mind and I see there was a coach builder with this name. I think the route out of Canterbury was via Cockering Road as it was in those days before the bypass was built. I also seem to remember the coach going into the hospital grounds and turning around outside the main entrance and some patients hanging about here. One patient had a habit of taking cigarette butts out of an ashtray, breaking them open and chucking them on the reception floor. A rather sad place half a century ago. I can't recall if the return journey was via Chartham village.

 

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