It is very easy to date this one to 1960 as it is printed on the ticket. The ticket was given on the occasion of a visit of a Rochdale Corporation double decker to one of Rochdales twin towns Tourcoing France. I am not sure which double decker it was that went to Tourcoing which is about 8kms North West of Lille but it didn’t have to travel far on the continent to reach its destination. There is nothing printed on the reverse of this Bell Punch ‘Ultimate’ ticket but it was printed by Bell Punch London.
The great advantage of the Ultimate system was speed. It was possible for a conductor to whizz round a full bus very quickly and thus to manage easily on busy routes. It did, however, have two disadvantages. The first was that the ticket rolls had value, so that if a conductor somehow lost a roll, he had a real problem. The second was that it didn’t easily cope with extended fare tables on longer routes. The machine had a button which allowed the conductor to issue a multiple ticket – e.g two 2½d tickets to make up a 5d fare, with over-printing to show that it was not two separate tickets – but a fare of, say, 2/10d was harder to accommodate. Maybe these characteristics are why the Ultimate system was very popular with many municipal operators, for whom speed on busy but relatively short town routes was paramount, but not so popular with country operators operating over longer distances with complex fare options.
The Rochdale bus that went to Tourcoing was their last new Regent V, 322 registration TDK 322 which fortunately still survives today. The visit was to coincide with the British Week which was being held in the town.