Omnibuses always remind me of the song ‘Transport of Delight’ by Michael Flanders and Donald Swann. For those that don’t know it you can check out the lyrics here.
One of the oldest pictures I could find was of these omnibuses of William Winterbottom, Hill End, Brisbane, ca 1889
(Held in the John Loxley Library, State Library of Queensland)
The fleet of omnibuses is stationed outside some houses at the Hill End area of West End, Brisbane. Members of the Winterbottom family are posing with the vehicles.
Then I found these stereoscopic views from the Robert N Denis collection created in c1889, currently located in the New York Public Library
South-Ferry, New York. Arrival and departure of omnibuses to all parts of the city.
Publisher: E. & H.T. Anthony (Firm)
The first recorded use of the word 'omnibus' as a designation of a vehicle occurred in a printed memorandum dated 3rd April 1829. Written by George Shillibeer (1797-1866) to John Thornton, the Chairman of the Board of Stamps (from whom a licence to operate in London was required), it announced that Shillibeer was engaged "…in building two vehicles after the manner of the recently established French omnibus…"
Shillibeer's service, between Paddington Green and the Bank, commenced on 4th July 1829 and introduced a new type of vehicle to the roads of Britain. This date is generally regarded as the start of omnibus history in Great Britain.
|Shillibeer's First Omnibus|
Shillibeer's first vehicles were box-like structures pulled by three horses abreast, with a rear entrance on which the conductor stood. Seating was on longitudinal benches with passengers facing each other. Later vehicles, including those of other operators, were generally smaller, pulled by just two horses.
The 1911 built bus, number B340 (reg. LA 9928), built and operated by the London General Omnibus Company owned by the London Transport Museum, on the London to Brighton run, Sunday 7th May 2006.
Flickr user "Jon's pics" http://www.flickr.com/photos/nakedcharlton
(Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license)
B340 has been owned by the London Transport Museum since it was taken out of service in the 1920s. It saw service in the First World War taking troops to the trenches of France.
The vehicle behind is the Routmaster RM1, a celebrity vehicle in its own right, reduced to providing service as a tender vehicle for the day and given the job of following the B Type for 70 miles to Brighton. And back!
Now if you wish you can listen to the Flanders and Swann lyrics sung by Ian Wallace at http://www.nme.com/nme-video/youtube/id/zT0lmusukAE
To visit other sepia posts check out Alan's Omnibus 98