Then and now [1]

Did I mention that I used to live in Wales? Between September 1982 and December 1985 I was a resident of the sleepy Welsh seaside resort of Aberystwyth. In my final year there I lived at the top of Penglais Hill, the one you crest coming into town on the main road from the North, giving the most stupendous view of the town below. The descent is so steep that the illusion is created of the sea being in the sky, especially when you have a telephoto lens on your camera. The town seems to be built up in a big pile.

The university is built mostly towards the summit so town-dwellers had quite a climb to get there. When I lived at the top I was just a stone’s throw from the rolling countryside beyond the town. Being a bus photographer with a telephoto lens some excellent opportunities were to be taken for the sake of a fifteen minute walk or so.

In 1985 I had the keys to the university’s photographic society darkroom and I shot quite a bit of black and white film. I used to buy bulk rolls of Ilford HP5 and cut it to length and load it into my own cartridges. As a student on a budget it was the most economic way to do photography by a long way but it meant a steep learning curve. That sort of thing has never put me off so there are a lot of black and white films in my archive, over 100 36-exposure negative rolls in fact. Most of these photos were never printed at the time but have since come to life thanks to the invention of the transparency scanner.

In fact, back in the 1980s I had the prescience to anticipate that one day I would be able to do “special effects” on photos, like film studios were starting to do on the cinema screen. Photoshop hadn’t been invented but I knew it would be one day. So I shot lots of negatives.

Crosville’s last in the ENL series of dual purpose Leyland Nationals at Comins Coch in 1985

The one above was taken around lunchtime on a weekday at Comins Coch. Comins Coch is a small village just beyond the summit of Penglais Hill off the Machynlleth Road. It is not to be confused with Commins Coch, on the A470 between Machynlleth and Caersws near the railway line from Shrewsbury. That one has an extra m. The bus is being driven by “Fletch” who was then the senior driver at Machynlleth. That’s what my memory is telling me but I am wide open to correction here. He was noted for his star turn at the wheel of Crosville’s preserved Bristol SC SSG612 at the Mid Wales Festival of Transport in 1983. On the Sunday of the festival I rode a British Rail HST from Aberystwyth to Welshpool, caught the SC from Welshpool to Machynlleth and probably had a milkshake in the National Milk Bar before catching the HST back to Aberystwyth from Machynlleth station. I have a photo of the SC somewhere but I think it has still to be scanned.

Fast forward to today and Comins Coch still exists of course but Crosville, their Aberystwyth depot and ENL978 do not. Only yesterday I was able to update the picture, standing in pretty much the same spot as I was 36 years ago but this time to photograph Lloyds Coaches Optare YB14BCZ on the X28 service, largely the same as the Crosville S14 service pictured above, except that the Lloyds service extends past the Crosville depot that isn’t there along a road that didn’t exist to a supermarket nobody even dreamt of in 1985.

As is often the case in “then and now” photographs, there is considerably more foreground foliage. The scene is quite recognisable, though, but of course the hilltop is flecked with wind turbines.

Lloyds Coaches have been on the scene in Mid Wales since 2001 and have taken over the former Crosville depots at Machynlleth and Dolgellau, expanding into the vacuum left by the withdrawal of Arriva from West Wales and the collapse of GHA Coaches and Express Motors. Their operating area now stretches from Bangor in the north as far south as Lampeter.

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.

2 thoughts on “Then and now [1]”

  1. Lloyd’s coaches are an excellent bus operator guided by wyn Lloyd who has the drive and acumen
    To become a successful bus company.have taken over two ex arriva Wales bus depot at Machynlleth & dolgellau.one downfall of rural bus company can be local authorities paying for concessionary travel.lloyds operate within three Welsh counties Powis,gwynedd& shing dyfed. Lloyd’s fleet consists from skoda Estate cars to luxury coaches.school contracts & rail replacement services for transportfor Wales rail operator. Its nice to see a bus operator that’s a success
    I do know the area but I live in West Yorkshire

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for the contribution Paul.
      I haven’t travelled on their buses yet, it’s been a long time since I wandered on the buses of West Wales but they do seem to be well organised and well-presented. Circumstances have been in their favour with so many operators giving up or being closed down but the risk is that their empire might not make enough to survive either. I don’t know how robust their trading is but I don’t think they could be allowed to fail, because who would step in otherwise? Certainly they give the impression that they are thriving and I wish them every success.

      Like

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