A H Barkus and Son of Woodhouse Eaves based two miles south of Loughborough, Leicestershire. The firm’s route from Woodhouse Eaves to Loughborough was jointly worked with Prestwells (also of Woodhouse Eaves) for many years, with the two operators alternating journeys. Prestwells had gone by 1967 and unfortunately one year later Barkus had gone too, and I have found a reference from the "Loughborough Echo"
Changeover in ownership of one of the oldest bus businesses in the district took place on Monday (1st April 1968) when Barkus and Son of Curzon Garage, Woodhouse Eaves was taken over by County Travel Ltd of Syston Street, Leicester…..Mr Harold Barkus and his son Mr Arthur Barkus are retiring after many years in the coach and haulage business.
Not in the paper were the details that Barkus’ last service bus was an all Leyland Royal Tiger saloon DCH 907 which had started life with Trent. It had recently replaced EUT 64, a 1948 Daimler CVD6 with Willowbrook DP35F bodywork acquired from Boyer of Rothley in 1958.
Thanks to Neville Mercer for the information regarding A. H. Barkus and Son
The following extract is from the The Royal British Legion Y Services (Garats Hay) Branch Newsletter.
It was sent in by Nick Shields and permission to use it on site as been kindly given by The Royal British Legion.
Who remembers the Barkus Bus? From some time in the 50s to at least the mid 60s, the Barkus bus travelled several times a day between Woodhouse Eaves via Old Woodhouse and Quorn to Loughborough. It was driven by Mr Taylor, and the conductress was his wife, Mrs Taylor. I never remember them being referred to by any other names, and I’m sure that Mrs Taylor knew the names of everyone who ever used the service. When the bus stopped to pick up a group of people, she would greet them all by name very formally, “Hello Mrs Brown, Hello Mrs Jones, Hello Mr Jackson” etc etc., and they would dutifully reply “ Hello Mrs Taylor”. If a person was heavily laden with shopping, Mrs Taylor would ensure that the bus stopped as close to the persons’ front door as possible, and help carry the bags into the house before moving on. What a wonderful service they provided, the like of which would be impossible to find nowadays. We used the bus frequently between 1958 and 1961, after which I was posted to Germany. When I returned to Garats Hay three years later, I got on the bus one morning to be greeted with “Hello Terry” as if I’d only been away for a couple of days. What a memory she had, and what a warm friendly personality. I can’t remember what the bus fare was, but it was cheaper than the Midland Red, the only alternative.
I was a Director of County Travel (Leicester) Ltd and we bought the bus company in 1968 as well as the Garage in Woodhouse Eaves. We developed the routes through to Anstey and eventually Leicester in the South and to East Midlands airport and Derby in the North and the route was sold to Midland Fox in 1989
When we took over Mrs Taylor retired as we introduced one man operation and Eric remained for about two years before we made a joint decision that he retired. Eric was one of the first people to have special voice training after cancer of the larynx and was rumoured to have helped Jack Hawkins the actor to learn to speak after his own operation.
County Travel developed as a major operator in both South and North Leicestershire having a network of routes in the Loughborough and Fleckney/Wigston areas and had also a joint operation with Leicester city transport until the whole stage carriage operation was sold to Midland Fox in 1989
I remember travelling on the Barkus bus on a couple of occasions with my parents in the mid-1960s. We lived in Nottingham, but sometimes visited Loughborough and its surrounding area.
The bus was exactly as described in the British Legion article. The man and wife couple who operated it; the fact that they seemed to know the names of all the passengers – and although we were "outsiders" they treated us as though they knew us. Even in the early 60s it seemed like stepping back in time; thinking about it now, it’s unbelievable.
Are there any photos of the actual bus? I remember thinking it was very old-fashioned even then.
I remember getting on Barkus Bus when it stopped near the Curzon Pub on Maplewell Road and getting off at Southfields Park in Loughborough every morning and then going back every afternoon. I was going to school in Loughborough and was only 4! The driver knew me and wouldn’t go until I was on the bus in the morning and waited for me at the end of the day to bring me home – what service!
My parents used to refer to Barkus as ‘Barkus Box Buses’ for obvious reasons. Did they not run to Hathern and Diseworth as well as Woodhouse? Or was this another company?
I have a feeling that the company that ran to Hathern and Diseworth was Wheildon’s of Castle Donington. (They were the regular suppliers of coaches for school trips from my junior school in Long Eaton). I seem to remember the route ran from Castle Donington "bus station" (in truth a glorified lay-by with a public loo adjacent!) to Loughborough via Diseworth, Long Whatton and Hathern. The first part of the route was subsequently obliterated as East Midlands Airport grew. I think Bartons subsequently took the route over as service 3A. I recall seeing an AEC Regent 2 with Weymann body (possibly an ex-LT STL) in Long Whatton, bearing Wheildon’s pale green livery. This would be about 1958. By the way, as far as I know this company was not related to the proprietors of the Green Bus Company of Rugeley, whose name was Whieldon (note "i" before "e"!)
During the fifties my mother and I would travel from Loughborough to Quorn on Saturdays for tea with auntie Gladys. We used to get on the bus at Packhorse Lane and get off at Quorn Cross. I will always remember Mrs Taylor she was cheerful lady who greeted you standing next to the huge chrome heater at the front of the bus. She used to have a large rack of tickets which before issue where punched. Going home in the evening we would take the first that came along. Which might have been Howlets Midland Red or other. It would have made the day to get a Barkus return.
10/02/11 – 06:18
During the 1950s our family lived and ran a pub in Quorn, we always travelled by Barkus buses or Howletts to and from the village to Packhorse lane Loughborough, I can remember Mr & Mrs Taylor very well and she knew all of the names of us kids, We had family who lived in Woodhouse and travelled there often and knew the Taylors very well, As a Bus Driver myself Mr Taylor would often be seen in Loughborough bus station Chatting to other drivers Two lovely people who we will never see the likes of ‘again’, and a Bus company that was one of the Best..
14/02/11 – 07:06
I have been following the history of Barkus & Son since the 1960′s and have many photographs and fleet history of both Barkus and Prestwells. To clarify the two operators both started in 1920. Prestwells ceased operating in December 1954 selling off their fleet of ten vehicles. Previously they had operated ten other coaches starting with a 12920 GMC Swift seating 14 passengers. I have a Prestwells timetable dating back to May 1950 and a number of bell punch tickets.
At the time of closure Barkus acquired the 1948 Crossley EVT 858 from Prestwells.
The Barkus fleet totalled 33 different vehicles from the 6 seater Ford Model T with Dixie bodywork in 1920 to the last purchase of a 1952 Leyland Royal Tiger in 1966. The most famous vehicle on the fleet was EUT 64 a 1948 Daimler purchased from Boyers of Rothley in December 1958 and operated on their Woodhouse to Loughborough service up until 1966. This was the vehicle that Eric and Emily Taylor worked on over the years which other contributors refer to.
The earliest timetable I have dates to 1932 and the first tickets used were punch type tickets of various values/colours ranging from 1/2d to 1 shilling with a workmans twelve journey ticket for 2/6d. The later tickets as pictured were the Insert Setright type – the two machines were acquired from Allens of Mountsorrel. Both these machines alongside the ticket racks survive today along with other company artefacts.
As a school boy I lived in Swithland and knew Arthur Barkus and his wife Edna very well and we used to go out regularly after he finished his business. A lot of the information I have is what I collected over those years from him.
03/03/11 – 10:35
We lived in Quorn form 1958 to 1960. I remember getting Barkus Bus from our home in Chaveney Road Quorn to school at Loughborough Grammar School. I remember the Daimler CVD6. I do not remember the driver or conductor but do remember the large chrome heater at the front of the bus. I also remember that the bus started from a street in Loughborough just behind the Hotel in the High Street. I think the Midland Red services which would also run some of the route were 601 and 602 and they started at the Odeon Cinema in Loughborough and I think went to Leicester. Barkus bus was always the best however and was a warm family service much loved by us all. Happy long gone days !
14/09/11 – 8:28
I was very interested to read all the lovely comments about the Barkus bus company, especially since I went to school with Margaret Barkus in the 1950s. We were both at Fairfield in Loughborough and then the High School, followed by two years at the old College of Further Education.We were always friends but not especially close so never kept in touch when we left the college. I lived in Sutton Bonington in those days and eventually married and now live in Surrey. I would dearly like to get in touch with Margaret as there is to be a reunion of our year at the High School at the beginning of October. It would be wonderful if she could come, together with any other friends she may have kept in touch with. If anyone reading this is able to help I would be most grateful. I can be contacted through this site.
Frances Banbury (nee Johnson)
05/11/11 – 07:39
Barkus used punch tickets but purchased several of Allens of Mountsorrel Insert Sertrights when that operator sold out to Midland Red.
Allan T Condie
26/05/12 – 17:01
My Dad, John Webster, was a driver for Barkus Transport in the 1950′s after being an army driver and before he was "poached" and moved to Selbys in April 1960. I had a secondhand cycle that came to me with blocks on the pedals as it was too big, and it was painted in "Barkus Blue"…. that fell off the back of one of the lorries maybe? Dad started with a Vulcan coal lorry, but there was also a Dodge. Around this time Barkus started with granite from Bardon Hill quarry. EJU 10 was dads previous lorry when he worked at Corahs Printers. He sometimes drove the busses…. "TOLD TO by Arther Barkus…. "OR ELSE" but he didn’t have a PSV licence. Dad would sometimes be stationed in Bardon, and I remember him driving a Thorneycroft "up and down round and round the hole". I was with him one school holiday when a loader misjudged a turn and drove into the front of us, leaving a damaged radiator and holes through the front. Mr Barkus, "the old man" was known by his ever loving workers as "TWINKLETOES". Barkus had up to eight buses, but never drove himself. He had a Standard car, that had a Fergusson tractor engine in it. "I never travel very fast but it get me a good way on just a drop of diesel". His wifes name was Clementina, had two children, Stewart and Margaret, who went off to live in Oakham. Mr & Mrs Barkus lived in a house on the left hand side heading up Beacon Hill Road. A huge coincidence, but looking to move nearer towards Nottingham where I now work, this house came onto the market around the early 1980′s. We went to look, and the home was like a time warp…. Nothing had been brought up to date; no central heating, old ceramic sink (that would now be worth a lot of money!). There was a Tandem garage up the left side. The next big coincidence, is that Andrew Selby, who married Caroline ( I tried too, but never made it, when I was a paper boy at Bennetts in Mountsorrel!) bought the house, and have lived there since. Dad now is 86, dating from November 1925, and spent about 5 years at Barkus, then 30 years with Selbys before retiring in 1990.
In the days before everyone even had house phones, I remember my dad stopping at phone boxes to ring back to base to find out the next job.. Woodhouse Eaves 261 was the number he would ask for before pressing button "B" on the old black GPO phone box…. Look up Selbys now, that residue is still there! Their number now is Loughborough 01509 890261. Such a lot of history is stored in the minds as fresh as it was yesterday, of our more elderly relatives. I hope I too can hold all these fond recollections when (IF!) I ever head towards 90!
A Bit more…. Having seen Prestwells, dad recalls three or four bus companies in the days before regulation and eventually Midland Red took over. He remembers "battles" between the rival bus owners who strived to ensure THEIR bus always arrived just before someone elses!