Old Bus Tickets

Maidstone & District Motor Services – Setright Speed

M&D ss_lr                From the Sidney R G Page collection

I don’t know what other types of ticket the "Mud & Dirt" may have issued, but when I worked for them in the mid 60s as a relief bus cleaner, covering rest days at Tenterden half the week and getting a long lie-in the other half before catching the first bus to Ashford at 6.20am to do rest day cover there, there was a chap who inhabited a small shed in a corner of the Tenterden bus garage who had taught himself pretty much all there was to know about Setright Speed ticket machines – I don’t doubt that he had originally gone on a course of some sort, but by the time I worked there he would have qualified to act as the instructor – and Setright Speed ticket machines from all over the M&D system that needed attention were sent to him to deal with.
I can’t remember if he also dealt with machines from the East Kent company as well, but they probably had someone of their own to deal with theirs, or sent them to the Setright works.
Although I swept out all the buses at Tenterden or Ashford every day or night that I was on duty, and also emptied the used ticket boxes and burned the contents in the incinerator at the back of the garage, I’m blowed if I can remember whether they were all Setrights, or if any other types of ticket were in use.

Copy contributed by Tony Adams


24/06/12 – 15:40

I was very interested to read about the individual mending the ticket machines. When I drove for Southend Corporation there was such a man there too. He had a little workshop but usually if you wanted to see him he left a notice on his door Back Shortly. This was displayed so often that he gained the nickname Back Shortly.

Philip Carlton


28/06/12 – 07:59

How interesting, Tony, to learn of your working at both Tenterden and Ashford – a pretty mammoth journey between the two depots. It’s just possible that we briefly came across each other, since I was shown round Tenterden and its environs in August 1967 by the then District Superintendent, Arthur Grist. Did you ever know him, by any chance?
In addition to the Setright, M&D used Almex machines on its OMO services, and although you might have forgotten Almex, you would certainly cleaned lots of the tickets up, since Almex machines were prevalent in both Tenterden and Ashford at the time you worked for M&D. I don’t think there is an Almex posting on this site, but the machines, which were positioned next to the driver, had little slides on them to set the fare and other details, and the ticket itself was a small, square one, almost but not quite cut from a roll as the driver issued it by pushing a lever at the side of the machine. I have a vague feeling M&D’s were yellow, but I can’t swear to it.

Roy Burke


03/07/12 – 14:54

M&D (and subsidiary Hastings Tramways) like many operators went from bell punch ticketing to Setrights via the intermediate stage of ‘Insert Setright’ machines – the latter were phased out from 1949 onwards. (M&D’s second Setright Speed machine, S 01, is now in my collection.)
M&D (and neighbour East Kent) specified the trip number / stage number style of machine shown here (which meant that on the longest routes, fare stages 1 to 31 were repeated.)
M&D were, as Roy says, one of the early purchasers of Almex machines (in an era when buying anything not British could be viewed with some suspicion) – from photographs I’ve seen, it looks as though they did so from the early 1960s. Almex machines seem to have been used on OMO services, conductors continued to use Setrights as far as I know. And yes, Almex standard ticket rolls were yellow (although some operators used other colours for reasons unknown.)
(And I’ll have to try and find an Almex ticket or two that are interesting enough to offer for posting on here – they probably get thought about as ‘too modern to be of interest’ although some of the machines are now getting on for 50 years old!)
As M&D were quicker than some companies to convert to OMO, this led to a surplus of Setrights, and many passed second hand to City of Oxford in the mid 60s (S01 came to me via an Oxford source but never got decimalised) – possibly to replace either short range Setright (issuing tickets only up to 1 shilling) or TIM machines which had both outgrown their more limited fare range in an age of inflation.
The "chap in a small shed" is an interesting way of doing things – most large companies had one or two ‘Setright mechanics’(or similar job title) usually at head office or central works.
An article in ‘Classic Bus’ some time in the last couple of years mentioned that M&D had a number of people doing jobs that didn’t officially exist – people were still on the books as a driver or conductor but did a regular, specialised job – maybe this chap was on that basis.



The pink ticket is interesting. M&D used green rolls for many years but other colours were used by kerbside conductors (at Hastings I think), changed daily to prevent fiddling. East Kent did this too.
M&D Setrights: these could print stages and trips from 1 to 32, although the very last batches of machines had the more common 00-99 arrangement.
M&D stages incidentally, had the appearance of being chaotic as they did not run in sequence. For example, stages on route 98 (Tonbridge, Higham Wood – Tunbridge Wells, Ramslye) in 1964, ran: 17 – 15 – 14 – 13 – 12 – 10 – 9 – 8 – 7 – 6 – 5 – 4 – 31 – 3 – 2 – 1 – 30 – 29 – 15 – 25 – 28 – 26. There were further stage numbers (including 32) for "additional single fares". On joint routes with Southdown, conductors had to remember the Southdown stages too which were different for any given stage but equally chaotically applied. The basic idea, however, was that a particular stage would always have the same number irrespective of route.
Almexes were introduced by M&D in November 1955 at Tenterden and Gravesend (three machines in total for OMO drivers). Apart from the West Yorkshire Road Car who tried an Almex for one day (9th May 1955), M&D were the first UK user. They also tried electric drive Setrights for OMO, but a decision to standardise on the Almex was made quite early on, and they became a major and very long-lived user. This may be why the Swedish Almex company decided to settle in Edenbridge in the 1950s.
Rolls were supplied by Almex for many years; the earliest were a sort of cream, later yellow, white with preprinted conditions in yellow, and at the end, with the M&D logo in green. M&D also used green rolls on the Invictaway coach services.
A Setright mechanic or two were employed by many of the larger firms and maintenance was usually quite a systematic matter. For example, at Ribble, a central service history card was kept for each machine; ribbons were replaced at 50,000 tickets (at the depot) and the machine returned to the works for a complete overhaul at the 500,000 tickets mark. Some operators (Wilts & Dorset, Lincolnshire RCC for example) even had the "service interval" shown on a little brass plate on the machine as a reminder to the depot clerks.
Some of the larger firms also maintained machines for smaller operators; the only example I can think of offhand, is that of the Clynog & Tefor Motor Co. who had their machines looked after by Crosville at Chester.

DRH – Transport Ticket Society


29/07/12 – 10:55

Hi Roy, I shouldn’t think I ever met you or the District Superintendent because as I was rest day relief for the regular cleaners, most of my time at Tenterden was on nights. On the days that I worked at the M&D garage at Ashford I caught the first bus out of Tenterden, which took about an hour to reach Ashford. However, I was travelling in the warm on the company’s time. Ashford garage at that time had a large number of Bristol double deck buses with AEC engines. The engineering staff told me that as Bristol was a nationalised company, they were not allowed to sell complete buses to non-nationalised operators, hence the AEC engines – though I have no idea where these would have been fitted. That no doubt also explains the Dennis LoLine. Tucked away round the back of the M&D shed at Ashford at that time was an old snowplough, though it couldn’t be used when it was really needed, because the vehicle that it fitted had been scrapped long ago.

Tony Adams