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Author Topic: Chatham & District Traction Company  (Read 64964 times)

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Offline Stewie

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Re: Chatham & District Traction Company
« Reply #7 on: January 07, 2010, 14:43:03 »
I have found there is a website for the 'Chatham & District Traction' although it seems to be under development. However some additional info on there may be of interest. Apparently there is one surviving bus left which has really got around the country and is now back in Maidstone.
The web address is

Offline bromptonboy

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Re: Chatham & District Traction Company
« Reply #6 on: January 07, 2010, 13:38:37 »
Great pictures! The backgounds are just as interesting as the buses. Who recognised 'Bernards Corner in Military Road. There is one C&D bus left that has been brought back to the Medway Towns for restoration.

Offline peterchall

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Re: Chatham & District Traction Company
« Reply #5 on: January 07, 2010, 13:22:10 »
Some technical stuff.

The Bristol K5Gs were powered by a 5-cylinder Gardner engine producing 95 horsepower, equivalent to about 12hp/ton (compared to about 60hp/ton for an average car), so performance was not exactly sparkling.
Governed speed in top gear was 32mph.
Time to accelerate from 0 to 30mph = 5 hours (actually, I made that up :)).
Chatham Hill was a tedious 2nd gear climb and even parts of Canterbury Street needed 3rd.
The noise and vibration when flat-out were awesome.

Southern Vectis have a K5G based at Ryde, Isle of Wight, and it?s worth having a trip on it if you're down that way.

One had to admire the drivers. The gearboxes were non-synchromesh, and there was no power assisted steering or brakes etc., and no cab or passenger deck heating. Signalling was by sticking a hand out of the open cab window. There were no windscreen de-misters, but the windscreen could be opened!

The Guy Arabs were like a racehorse to a carthorse when compared to the K5Gs. The second batch even had semaphore arm traffic indicators, operated by a knob next to the driver with a timer to self-cancel.

The 'Setright' ticket-printing machine that the 'Clippie' is carrying was weighty, as was a full money bag that she would carry over her shoulder, so that job wasn't easy either, especially with the bus lurching about. Conductors were issued with a black box for carrying cash, blank ticket rolls, and a wooden clip-board for filling in Waybills. The 'Waybill' was a record of tickets issued and cash taken, written up at specified points on a journey from the display on the ticket machine. It was quite impressive to see this being done on a moving bus - it was only possible to do it while standing and 'going with the bus' apparently. Cash handed in had to correspond with the Waybill figures. However, 'Sparrows' were fares taken from passengers as they got off the bus but for which a ticket was not issued, so it cut both ways!

Conductors had to remember where passengers got on the bus, so that they could charge the right fare, and had to watch for passengers going past their paid for destination. Many passengers knew the fare and simply said, 'tuppence, please', or whatever, when the conductor came round for the fare. The conductor was responsible for the rear destination blinds, and for the front one if it was altered from inside the top deck. I imagine that an Inspector would have something to say about the alignment of those in the picture.

The open platform was convenient for hopping on or off the bus when it slowed for traffic. I remember waiting for a bus at the bottom of Star Hill on a snowy day (no road salt then) when a bus came up slowly and the conductor called "you'll have to jump on because we can't stop!" What would 'elfansafety' regulations say about that?

Signals to the driver were by bell pushes on the platform and the lower and upper decks: 1 push for 1 'ding' of the bell.
1 bell = Stop at next request stop.
2 bells = Start off.
3 bells = Car full; don't stop till you get 1 bell. (Crews called the buses 'cars'. A full car was a '3 bell load').
4 bells = Emergency.

5 passengers were allowed to stand on the lower deck when all seats were full; this was increased to 8 during the war.

                And so to the final act.
                A Guy Arab ordered for C&D but delivered to M&D, running over a C&D route re-numbered in the 14x series and in M&D livery.
               The end of an era!
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Offline peterchall

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Re: Chatham & District Traction Company
« Reply #4 on: January 07, 2010, 12:07:57 »
Simplified C&D fleet list.
There were a few other vehicles for trial or on exchange from M&D, but here are the ones purchased directly for C&D.

Leyland Titan TD1, 48 seat.
43 purchased 1930/31. 41 withdrawn, 2 passed to M&D, 1938/39.
Registration No: KJ 1821-1826, & KR xxxx. Fleet No 356-399.

Note 'CHATHAM & DISTRICT TRACTION COMPANY' above the lower windows and the 'Belt & Buckle' logo on the side panel. The tramlines are still there. The open topper belongs to M&D.

*No 364 outside the 'Army & Navy' next to the Town Hall has just the 'Belt & Buckle' logo on the side panel. Note the starting handle!

Bristol K5G, 48 seat.
4 purchased 1938. 3 withdrawn 1953, 1 passed to M&D.
Registration No: FKL 613-616. Fleet No: 352-355.

*No 352 carries the new C&D logo.

No 355 at the Vineyard pub, Rochester, headed for Borstal.

Bristol K5G, 54 seat.
37 purchased 1939. 12 withdrawn 1953/54, 25 passed to M&D.
Registration No: GKE 64-100. Fleet No: 870-906

No 888 in pristine condition, with wartime headlamp masks and white edged mudguards.

*A line of GKEs inside Luton Depot.

Bristol K5G, 56 seat utility bodies with slatted wooden seats. 12 purchased 1942.
Registration No: GKR 741-750 & GKT 549-550. Fleet No: 907-912 & 915-920.

*No 915 on Service 2, headed for Magpie Hall Road.

The wartime aquisitions were re-bodied post-war, 56 seat. All passed to M&D.

*A new body for No 911. Note the separate route number blind.

*3 generations of K5G at Luton Depot.

Guy Arab IV, 58 seat.
16 purchased 1953/1954, all passed to M&D.
Registration No: RKK 992-999 & TKM 354-361. Fleet No: 921-936

*No 923 climbing Maidstone Road, Chatham, and making lighter work of it than a K5G would have done.

*No 936, the very last vehicle acquired by C&D. Service 2 has now been extended to Weeds Wood Estate.

How some of them ended up!

*Ex-C&D 355, now M&D DH292, at Pembroke Gate and looking rather dull in M&D livery.

*These pictures are from M&D and East Kent Bus Club.

Some technical information coming next.
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Offline bromptonboy

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Re: Chatham & District Traction Company
« Reply #3 on: January 07, 2010, 12:01:29 »
Hi Peterchall, I can just remember the clippies on the buses arriving at Brompton announcing the stop as the 'Holy City'. Apparently it was because at one time Brompton had six main churches.

Burma Way that you mention could be the start of a new topic. 'Why are housing estates so named?' Burma Way is I believe on the 'Victory Estate' built just after WW2. Nearly all the road names up there have a WW2 connection. Roosevelt, Alamein, Stalin, Tedder, Burma etc. Another estate is the 'Fleet Estate' in Rochester where the roads are named after Chatham manned warships of WW2. Arethusa, Ach
illes, Leander etc.

Offline peterchall

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Re: Chatham & District Traction Company
« Reply #2 on: January 06, 2010, 21:27:20 »
The C&D services from the start until the towns began to expand after the war were:

1: DOCKYARD Pembroke Gate - LUTON Hen & Chicks (Despite the name of the pub actually being 'Hen & Chickens')

2: RAINHAM Webster Road - CHATHAM Magpie Hall Road Top, via Chatham Hill and Maidstone Road.

3: GILINGHAM GREEN - FRINDSBURY Bingham Road, via Brompton.

3A: CHATHAM Town Hall - STROOD Slatin Road.

4: CHATHAM Town Hall - REDE COURT. From the top of Strood Hill ran alternately via Watling Street/Rede Court Road/Gravesend Road, and Gravesend Road/Rede Court Road/Watling Street.

5: GILLINGHAM Strand - BORSTAL via Richmond Road, Canterbury Street, and Chatham Hill.

5A: Alternated with service 5, to COOKHAM WOOD. Started after the RN camp opened at Cookham Wood.

All services between Chatham and Rochester ran via New Road.

First buses usually left the service terminus just after 6:00am, and last buses were usually the 'next on the timetable' after 10:30pm from the Town Hall. But during the war services stopped about 9pm, and did not start until 1pm on Sundays.

There were few 'Sorry not in Service' runs. Buses running to/from the depot picked up passengers (no shortage of buses on Luton Road at those times!)

There were also services between all the terminals to/from Dockyard Pembroke Gate at work start and finish times. (See note). Working on these entailed split shifts for the crews. These would be Dockyard runs between, say, 6 and 8 am, and again between, say, 4 and 6 pm, all for about 4 hours pay; but such were the industrial relations of the times! As much as a quarter, or more, of the fleet was used on these runs and was parked for the day in Dock Road or Barrier Road. (See note).

Note: See  link below, Reply#6.

As the towns expanded after the war, some of the services were extended:

1: To Wayfield Shops, then to Burma Way.
2: To Weeds Wood.
3A: To Gillingham Green and Brompton Farm Road.
4: To Salters Cross via Watling Street, and Luton, Wagon-at Hale.
5 & 5A: These never changed.
6: Ran for a short time from Rainham - Strand on summer weekends.

Services 5 & 5A were the 'main' services, always running every 14 minutes each during the day, and 20 minutes each at evenings and Sundays (i.e.  every 7 minutes and 10 minutes as a combined service). Generally, services 1, 2, and 3 ran every 10/15 minutes, and 3A and 4 every 15/20 minutes.

I'm working on some pictures and will post them soon.
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Offline peterchall

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Chatham & District Traction Company
« Reply #1 on: January 06, 2010, 17:12:57 »
I thought a topic on the Chatham & District Traction Company might be interesting. I have four separate posts in mind, so here is number 1.

The whole tram system of the Chatham & District Light Railway Company closed overnight and was superseded by the buses of the Chatham & District Traction Company (C&D) on 1st October 1930, as a subsidiary of Maidstone & District Motor Services (M&D). The buses generally operated over the old tram routes.

The buses were garaged in the old tram depot on Luton Road, Chatham (now the site of the 'Tramways' housing estate). It shared an office with M&D in Military Road, where the conductors paid in their cash and crews booked on/off duty when they were on shifts that didn't operate directly out of the depot. Then there was that lovely tiled shelter at the corner of Barrier Road, opposite the Town Hall. While supposedly a public shelter it had all the C&D crew rosters on the wall inside. See link below, Reply#6.

The low point in C&D's history, of course, came on the evening of 4th December 1951, when a bus ploughed into a marching column of Royal Marine Cadets in Dock Road, killing 24 and injuring 18.

Otherwise the C&D buses served the Medway Towns well until 1st October 1955, when C&D was absorbed into M&D. However, the demise of C&D was more drawn out than its beginning. First, the C&D logo on the bus sides was replaced by the M&D logo, and the buses were changed to M&D livery over a period of time as they came due for repaint. The C&D service numbers were then prefixed by 'T' to avoid confusion with M&D services with the same number (e.g. - Service 1 became T1). After that the C&D services 'melted' into the M&D network.

A feature of the times were the Workmens' Fares; it was actually cheaper to travel before 8am. I can't remember whether it was half-fare, or any distance for a penny, or something like that, but it was the opposite of today's fare structure. In any case the normal fare from Star Hill to Town Hall was just one old penny.

I think the railway had a similar system: Arrive in London before 8am and you got a reduction!

                                                    The Livery. I think it was rather nice.

Number 2 coming later.
It's no use getting old if you don't get artful


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