The "Willebrew" system was patented by Williamson, ticket printers of Ashton-under-Lyne Lancashire. It was invented jointly by A Williamson and John Brewer hence the name Willebrew but the system was cumbersome and very labour intensive. The conductor had to clip off some of the ticket at the fare paid as in the above case 9½d. It then needed an army of weary clerks who then had to manually add up all the clipped off tickets left in the conductors machine at the end of his shift to see how much the conductor had taken.
Silver Service was the trading name for J H Woolliscroft & Son Ltd of Darley Dale, just north of Matlock, Derbyshire.
The old headquarters and garage was at the junction of Bakewell Road (the A6) and Old Hackney Lane. It can be seen on Google Maps, as presently occupied by Milner Off-Road Racing.
Their livery was for many years predominantly silver (surprise, surprise!) and blue. In 1978 they acquired Hulley’s of Baslow. The story of Hulley’s and the subsequent re-organisation and amalgamation of the two operators is given on the Peak Districts website. Today the Hulley’s name is the one that survives. The present livery is perhaps a compromise, bringing the blue from Silver Service and cream from the red and cream of "old" Hulley’s.
Silver Service’s main route was Matlock – Bakewell via Wensley, Winster, Birchover and Stanton-in-Peak, including some pretty steep ascents to the villages on the west side of Stanton Moor. This is still operated, as service 172, although it now also makes a diversion between Winster and Birchover to take in the village of Elton, which was formerly served by a North Western route from Matlock.
I seem to remember there was also a rather sporadic service between Matlock and Friden which was an unlikely destination right out in the sticks (probably run to fit in with shift changes at Friden brick works).
The service bus fleet was (I think) wholly second hand. Up to the 1960s it consisted mainly of Leyland and AEC half-cab single deckers – not sure what they were or where they came from, although I suspect some were second hand from East Midland. Later they hired an AEC Reliance or two from Chesterfield Corporation.
They also operated a coach fleet, and I well remember going on a chapel outing from Stanton Lees to London about 1975. Stanton Lees – never on any bus route – was an excitingly difficult place to take a coach and turn it – all narrow twisting lanes and 1 in 6 hills!
Thanks to Stephen Ford for the information regarding Silver Service.
A most interesting feature about this strange ticket system. I have often wondered how the name "Willebrew" was devised – the first half being obvious but now the identity of Mr. Brewer solves the query. It is surprising how many large operators used this system, very rightly described above as "cumbersome and labour intensive" and I’m sure that in today’s employment legislation climate the army of weary clerks would surely be entitled to counselling. In this area the legendary and splendid East Yorkshire Motor Services used the "Willebrew" system. Perhaps its one real advantage, cost wise, was that the range of pre-printed and serial numbered tickets was quite small and simple – certainly compared with the Bell Punch and other systems where lengthy routes demanded complex stocks of expensive tickets for each individual fare. The history of ticket systems is indeed a vast and fascinating subject – when, oh when, are we to be granted the forty eight hour day to fully enjoy all these aspects of the industry ??
All I have managed to find out about Mr J Brewer is that he was apparently an employee of Ribble Bus Services in Preston Lancashire in the 1920s. I got the information from the Ticket Machine Website.
I agree with Chris Youhill that East Yorkshire were splendid, (his comments on all subjects are always well-informed, interesting and helpful), and I also agree that the Willebrew system was very cumbersome and labour intensive for the office staff who had to calculate conductors’ takings. It was also unpopular, I’m told, with staff, because of the difficulty, when using the guillotine on a bumpy ride, of ensuring that the cut was made in exactly the right place. Apparently, it was easy to make that cut between two fares, and the office would always assume the higher fare. The result was that the conductor would often be penalised for ‘short’ takings.
The company should be Silver Service, not Silver Motor Service.
As Don says, "Silver Service" was the generally accepted name by which Woolliscroft’s was known far and wide. That is also what it said on the side and back of the buses. Nevertheless, the image above shows that the company themselves chose to have their Willebrew tickets printed as "Silver Motor Service". I do, however, have a TIM ticket issued on 9 July 1965, on which the printing plate used the style "Silver Service". I also seem to remember them issuing Ultimates at one time, in the untitled "Transport Services" series mentioned on this site – so it seems that everyone is right!
Silver Service did run to Elton on the Matlock – Bakewell route, though not every journey. Short runs to Elton were also worked, where the bus would terminate and return.
Thanks Paul. I didn’t know that. Wonder how they got the traffic commissioners to agree to two operators on one route. Elton – Bakewell patronage would make a good argument I guess, but that wouldn’t explain the Matlock – Elton short workings. Can’t remember what route number the North Western service was (possibly 121?) I remember after a walk across Stanton Moor catching one of their NWRCC’s Bristol L5Gs at the road junction just on the Elton side of Winster. I guess that would have been around 1960.
I was a regular traveller on the Silver Service between Winster and Bakewell from 1960 till 1966 during my schooldays at Lady Manners School, Bakewell.
I never knew they did Elton as well; those were always the red North Western buses as far as I recall. Later I spent some time as trainee at the Westminster Bank, Matlock where I met the Woolliscroft’s son (forgotten his first name) at the sub-branch in Matlock Bath. He probably won’t remember me, even if he ever reads this. In retrospect, Silver Service was for me the bus company with spirit and soul. I can still feel the sway of the fully laden bus with market goers and their baggage on a (market-day) Monday leaving Bakewell with standing room only (school rules dictated that us school kids had to vacate their seats for the tax-payers!): it really rocked and swayed.
Other times, coming down through Stanton-in-Peak during heavy snow and ice; aah! That switchback at the bottom where it joins the main road!! Phew; a white knuckle ride if ever there was one! But we always arrived in one piece.
Hi-Ho Silver, away!!
14/02/11 – 07:10
The fare paid with this ticket was ninepenece not ninepence halfpenny. It was clipped off by the "guillotine" machine at the price that the passenger paid. I know this from using EYMS between the fifties and seventies and working on the buses in 1969-70.
30/09/11 – 07:16
According to Ian Gibbs’ book on East Yorkshire, the name Willebrew was derived from Williamson’s the printers:(Will-), RT Ebrey the Genaral Manager of EYMS: (-eb-) and Brewer a director of Williamson’s (-[b]rew). There are photos of a number of Willebrew tickets on page 39, also. I remember the A area tickets being orange, with a purple? stripe. If only I had kept them! They were used by EYMS after co-ordination as revenue collected in the A area and a proportion of that in the B area was paid to the Corporation, and the tickets enabled fares collected in each area to be calculated and receipts apportioned correctly.
22/12/11 – 09:07
I have read the comment above from Don Akrigg regarding the name of this company and I have also read Stephen Fords reply. Well here is another Silver Service for you.
‘Silver Service Group’ I have torn this from the start of an unused roll of Setright Speed tickets. Was it the same company? The reverse of the roll is blank so no clues there.
11/02/12 – 07:41
I believe that ‘Silver Service Group’ was the new name after Silver Services purchased the Hulleys company in the 70s.
29/03/12 – 09:20
The company name on the above ticket .i.e Silver Motor Service is given as company name in a 1956 copy of the little red book.