Old Bus Tickets

Stanhope Motor Services – Automacheckit

Stanhope MS

Stanhope Motor Services was closely associated with Weardale Motor Services of Frosterley, County Durham having similar vehicles and livery.  I don’t think Stanhope Motor Services exists any more, but happily Weardale is still with us.

Photograph and Copy contributed by John Stringer


22/03/12 – 09:43

Strictly speaking, Stanhope Motor Services Limited (incorporated February 7th 1933) is still in existence but as a dormant company only. Control of the company passed to O.S.Gibson in 1955. He had started Weardale Motor Services in the 1920s and that company, as John Stringer says, is still very active under the control of R.S Gibson, S.Gibson, I.Gibson, A.M.Gibson and A.M.Gibson Hewison.

Nigel Turner


30/03/12 – 07:31

These are Bellgraphic tickets. They were issued by Thames Valley for many years until they went over to the Setright Speed in the early ‘fifties. The tickets came in a concertina bundle and the top copy had a carbon backing which transferred any markings on to the duplicate which was retained in the machine. With this machine and the Willebrew system (used by North Western Road Car among others)the conductor paid in ‘blind’ or in other words without a record of the total value of tickets issued (unless a separate record was kept). Like Bell Punch machines, the lock holding the machine closed was protected by a numbered paper seal to prevent unauthorised tampering.
I have a Bellgraphic machine & spare tickets and will send photograph if you would like further info.

Alan Bond


30/03/12 – 12:12

I was pleased some time ago when a friend bought a Bellgraphic machine for me at a rally. I am happy to own the machine, as it reminds me strongly of the happy days of buses in my youth, but I Wonder Alan if you could possibly give me a "beginner’s guide" as to how to thread the bloomin’ thing – I would be much obliged.

Chris Youhill


02/04/12 – 18:08

Whilst straying rather from the subject of tickets, readers may be interested in a little of the background to the twin operators Stanhope Motor Services and Weardale Motor Services which, as in the case of many County Durham independents (Diamond, OK Motor Services and TMS spring to mind)is somewhat complex. It’s also sad to think that, of all the "traditional" independents in the county, only Weardale, Hunters of Tantobie and Scarlet Band of West Cornforth remain: in the case of the last-named, however, their much-expanded operating territory mainly lies well away from their traditional route. As Nigel says, S,M.S. was founded in 1933 when Oswald Huntly bought the businesses of Forrest & Stockdale who operated services from Stanhope to Cowshill and Rookhope in the upper dale: Forrest had, in turn, acquired the business of Arnold Corbett three years earlier. The registered office and garage of S.M.S. was at Shittlehope Burn, Stanhope, which is now the headquarters of Weardale Motor Services. After the purchase of S.M.S. by Oliver Gibson in 1955, the Company was retained as an operating subsidiary for licensing purposes until the early 1990s although the buses soon received the Weardale livery albeit with Stanhope fleet names and S.M.S. on the sides. I was only four years old in 1955 but something tells me that the original Stanhope livery was green: I stand open to correction on that and I would love to know for sure.
The main-line Stanhope to Crook service was operated by O.S.Gibson (trading as Weardale Motor Services) whose Frosterley depot was still in use until fairly recently, Dowson (Safety Coach Service) also from Frosterley and Baldwin & Barlow (Heather Bell Services) of Tow Law; Baldwin & Barlow also operated from Stanhope to Bishop Auckland. Between 1929 and 1939 a Thomas Cook from Consett operated between Consett and Stanhope via Tow Law and Wolsingham; in 1939, however, and just a month after the cessation of passenger trains between Tow Law and Consett via Burnhill Junction, he abandoned his service after which the Consett to Tow Law section was operated by Northern General whilst the Tow Law to Stanhope section was operated jointly by Weardale and Baldwin & Barlow. When, in 1961, Weardale acquired both Dowson and Baldwin & Barlow they had a monopoly of the services in the dale. Certainly as late as the early 1970s I can recall that the 1600 hours journey from Stanhope to Bishop (at least on schooldays) used to turn off the A689 just before Wolsingham Steelworks into Lydgate Lane and up to Tow Law before dropping down the A68 to re-join the normal route at Gate House Roundabout. It was a joy to climb Redgate Bank in a Leyland Titan – glorious scenery and a wonderful sound from the engine!
Apart from Baty of Rookhope, who used to operate between Rookhope and Eastgate, the only other operator which I can remember in the upper dale was Wright Bros of Nenthead who used to run between Alston and Stanhope. I believe this service started in the late 1920s; it was at one time a daily operation but, by about 1960, it had been cut back to a market-day service between Alston and St. John’s Chapel only and it was eventually withdrawn altogether in 1967.

Alan Hall