Monday 14 January 2013

On The Buses in Cambridge - The Early Years

On the 15th April 1905 two companies began the first motor bus service in the city, not only were they in
Market Hill -1905
 Possibly on the first day of service.
competition with each other, but also the tramway service. The Cambridge University and Town Motor Omnibus Company Limited ran a 25 horse powered Straker Squire - Number CE299, the bus was light blue. Their rival company was the Cambridge Motor Omnibus Company and they operated two double - decker Thorneycroft buses.

On the first day of service The Cambridge University and Town Motor Omnibus Company Limited carried about 1,705 passengers between 4:30pm and 9:30pm, with a fare of one penny.

A Ortona bus in Regent Street - 1914
( Note the tram riding pass)
In those early days there was no set stops and you had to wave at a bus so it would stop and you could get on. It was also becoming clear the companies were holding poor safety records and were causing damage to kerbs, lamp posts, and other objects, even one ticket person was killed and this led to both companies having their licences to operate withdrawn in 1906.

In August 1907 James Berry Walford began the Ortona Bus Company and promised to make it a success, despite the set backs of the other two companies.
It is said that James Berry Walford got the name Ortona from a cruise ship he had been on. The buses were leaf green with red wheels and body trim. The buses ran every 15 minutes from 8am - 9:35pm daily except on Sundays.

By the start of the 1920's Ortona had rival firms, first with Whippet in 1919 and the Burwell and District Bus Company in 1922. A new bus station opened in 1925 at Drummer Street on land taken from Christ's Pieces.

There had been a battle between the council and the Town's people because the new bus station would take land from Christ's Piece. A mass protest which included about 3,000 people took place because the council had started work before approval had been given. Protesters were carried in carts to the Mayors house, with the horses being replaced by supporters.

A 1980's advert for Cambus
The original bus service, before Drummer street bus station had been built, ran from the railway station to the Post Office, at the top of Petty Cury, and carried on to the Chesterton terminus.

On the 11th July 1931 Ortona was taken over by Eastern Counties Omnibus Company, which had been based in Norwich. The Green Ortona buses changed to the red of Eastern counties.

Eastern Counties ran until 1984 when it became Cambus after a national restructure. In 1986 it was brought out by a management team.