I am deeply indebted to my good friend John Weager who was kind enough to send me a copy of an excellent book which he has recently written and published. It is I have to say a labour of love, written about an iconic building that played a pivotal role in the life and times of the good folk of Bournemouth. Indeed while the book focuses on the life and times of the iconic building that was Bouremouth Bus Station, it is also a testimony to the very many major bus stations and interchanges that affected so many peoples lives over the course of the years.
I have always felt that the bus industry is indeed a microcosm of social history, it is after all about people. Indeed John manages very well I feel to get the human message out there, as well as all the information that you would expect about the myriad of different buses and coaches that served the bus station and its passengers over the decades. The history of the bus station since its formal inception in 1931, through to its extensive rebuild and reconstruction in 1957 until 1959 is well recorded, and John manages to give the reader a great flavour of what life was like back in the good old days.
In addition homage is rightly paid to the history of Hants and Dorset’s Bus Company after it became part of the mighty National Bus Company back in 1969. For me like John, growing up in that era it brought back many happy memories, from the super collections of staff photos, to the MAP project (or Market Analysis Project as it was fondly known), that would re-shape all the NBC subsideries. It is funny how sometimes photos can evocatively remind you of past experiences, indeed seeing the fashion styles of the seventies and before took me right back to my own formative years.
I have always felt that the bus industry has always down played its role in terms of keeping society moving and allowing lives to be lived. John has got the balance right between inspiring what this building meant not only to the armies of passengers on both buses and coaches, but also to the many people who worked there not only as drivers and conductors. But also to the many staff who kept the wheels working, day in and day out. Including John himself who started life as a Traffic Trainee back in 1974, I was lucky enough to work with John when I joined Midland Red West Bus Company based in Worcester in 1986, when I became the depot Manager for Hereford. John back then was part of the marketing team before becoming a very capable and well respected payroll Manager until he retired in 2011.They were indeed happy days, recalled fondly.
So, if you have any interest in the Bus Industry or indeed social history, I would thoroughly recommend John Weager’s book, he has done credit to the station itself and the many lives that passed through it. It is a well researched read that also brings the people and the characters to life, reflecting a different age when the bus and coach were absolutely vital to keeping the communities that they served moving. And I for one am delighted that this excellent book respects that unique heritage.