Betty’s Bus

Back in the late 70s and early 80s Ribble got some good publicity for their special rural bus services wending their merry way around the area between Clitheroe and Burnley, in the Ribble valley and around Pendle Hill. Their regular driver, Betty Gray, became a bit of a local celebrity after appearing on local TV in reports showing her at work. She was also as a guest, or rather a subject [if I remember correctly] on “What’s My Line” on ITV. She had her place on a Ribble publicity postcard, feeding the ducks at Downham, which features in my archive.

“Betty’s Bus” even had its own special headboard as seen above. Actually, there were two “Betty’s Buses”, a pair of consecutively-numbered Bristol LHS buses. The Ribble fleet numbers were 271 and 272. Monday to Saturday there were different route variations each day, mostly based on Clitheroe and reaching Burnley four times a week. The Saturday service in my 1983 timetable did not start or end at Clitheroe, apparently being worked from the Burnley end. This, I imagine, because Betty had her weekends off.

The Bristol LHS was perfect for the narrow country lanes and quite photogenic with it. I could have taken hundreds of photos along the route because there were so many scenic compositions to be made. Film cost was a limitation in those days, and obviously there was only so much stopping for photographs that the driver and the posse of regular passengers could tolerate [I made them late!!]. But Mrs Gray was very patient and generous and allowed me to take some really unique photos.

I will not linger too long on the subject here because I have decided to focus on the route in more depth in a special extra-blog feature, extra in two senses:
(a) it will feature material not shown on these blog pages and
(b) it will be distributed outside the blog by e-mail to my signed-up blog subscribers only.

To receive a copy of this first special issue – and those which will follow – just sign up on any of my blog pages. The intention of these special issues is to explore an “e-mag” format, overcoming the limitations of the web site and using full HD images to fill your tablet, laptop, monitor or TV screen corner-to-corner with omnibological eye-candy. These will at first be short and sweet but if they are well received I am considering authoring some more extensive photographic essays and studies of operations in an expanded e-book format.

So your participation in this experiment [by signing up and giving feedback] would help me decide whether this is an endeavour worth pursuing. I hope to send out the first “extra” in the next few weeks, so subscribe to benefit from this free offer. I will advise on this site and on social media when the first “e-mag extra” is to be distributed but you can subscribe right now, above, on the right.

Note: As a privacy lover myself I do not share your e-mail addresses nor will I use them to pester you with irrelevant stuff. All features for tracking and analytics are disabled on this web site.

Author: crisparmour

In my fragmented and unremarkable career I have spent over 20 years working in the bus industry in various roles. Prior to that I became interested in transport as a very young child and, as soon as I was considered old enough, launched myself into the world of bus enthusiasts. Off and on I have amassed an archive of photographs of my own and a substantial collection of timetables, maps and publicity. In time I will share much of this with the world with one proviso: please respect my copyright and do not upload my photographs to your own sites or social media. If you like what you see by all means use the "share" facility on each post to share a link so that your friends can come here and enjoy.

5 thoughts on “Betty’s Bus”

  1. Employed full time as a Cash Clerk at Blackburn Depot,I passed my PSV test in late 1981.I worked part time for Clitheroe Depot, mainly at weekends until mid 1982.Fond memories of driving both Bristol LHS’s on an outer circular route around Clitheroe that took approximately 1 hour.Also, after they were no longer required,I drove one of them on a late evening Manchester express from Blackburn.Where the usual Leyland Leopard would struggle on the return journey up past Bury on the M66, the LHS literally flew up the incline!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for the reminiscence, Alan. My experience of the LHS as a driver is just one brief, joyous opportunity but it felt like no other bus I ever drove. I’m quite envious of your chance to play quite extensively with the Ribble pair.
      Do you happen to know what the location is for my photo above [the black and white one]? I have traced the route the best I can on Google Street View and can’t find that building on the roads that the diagram in the Ribble publicity leaflet suggests.
      [EDIT] sorted that location now…

      Liked by 1 person

    2. I drove 3 LHS’S ‘s when I worked for Solent Blue Line many years ago at Eastleigh. Great fun to drive, although I think I was the only driver that liked them. Remember doing a journey from Eastleigh to Winchester after the desk man pleaded for help as driver’s were dropping like flies due to some flu virus. I agreed providing I could have an LHS’s to which he agreed. Promptly got lost around the dark country lanes & didn’t get back to till hours later. I’d never done the route before & never operated a ticket machine as I was a contract driver so never handled money.

      Liked by 1 person

    3. Cris,I conducted my own search on Google Earth before seeing that you had found the location of 271 turning onto a bridge.I did not recognise it as a Downham location, suggested by someone else.To find it down a road in Gisburn that I have never driven down was quite a surprise!

      Liked by 1 person

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