Old Bus Tickets

J Wood (Mirfield) – Bell Punch

J Wood (Mirfield) - Bell Punch

J Wood were a very small operator in the Mirfield West Yorkshire area. When I collected the above tickets in 64-66 I think they only had one double decker it was a Crossley which was rare for the area but I think they only had one service route. The livery of J Wood was quite different for the area has it was overall cream with one or two black bands, not the easiest livery to keep clean considering its mill town surroundings. These tickets were printed by Williamson Printers Ashton-under-Lyne they seemed to have had a problem getting the printing quite square on the above samples.
How did the office know what the total value of Bell Punch tickets issued in a shift, did they count the difference in the numbers pre-printed on the tickets from the start to the finish of the shift? I do hope nobody comes back and says that they counted all the little discs that were punched out of the ticket resulting in for example 87 pink discs equals 87 x 5d making £1 16s 03d. If you know please lave a comment.

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Woods did indeed have only one route, this being Dewsbury to Mirfield via Knowle. The Crossley double decker was well known to local enthusiasts, and the Firm later bought one of Samuel Ledgard’s two Atkinson single deckers with Burlingham body. Conductors’ takings were, as you suggest, calculated by simple subtraction of the ticket serial numbers. Somewhere long ago though I did read of one case of manual counting of the little disc clippings but it was, of course, not the norm – and I can’t remember which operator it was or the purpose of the exercise.

Chris Youhill

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As far as I understand, cash reconciliation with the Bell Punch system was based mainly on the conductor’s waybill. By comparing the serial numbers for each ticket value at the beginning and end of his shift, the conductor presented, in effect, a spreadsheet giving a quick and accurate total of what he ought to be paying in. Small discrepancies (a few pence) on the right side were retained by the company (unless the conductor spotted them first!) On the wrong side they were stopped out of the conductor’s wages! I think it was only for major differences or suspicions of fiddling that they resorted to the soul-destroying task of counting the confetti!

Stephen Ford

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As the others have said, the conductor’s waybill with a bell punch type system (and I intentionally use lower case B and P in case it was a Williamson or other!) would be similar (although possibly with more values) to that used with an Ultimate, Gibson or statistical TIM – the conductor would record the closing and starting number of each fare value sold, take one away from the other, and then add up the cash value of X number of 1d tickets, Y number of 2d tickets and so on.
It was of course important that conductors used tickets in the correct order, and recorded it correctly if they finished one block of tickets and started another. The office would of course know what and how many blocks of each value ticket each conductor had been issued at the start of the shift. With some operators, the "start of day" numbers would already be entered on the conductor’s waybill by the office staff.
I’m not quite sure where the idea that the ‘confetti’ was counted daily started, but I have never heard it said by someone who was actually involved…
Large operators like London Transport would, I believe, have confetti counted as an occasional random audit, and where there was any doubt about a particular duty – the scale of LT meant that a modest number of staff were employed on this duty.
The consequences of Bellgraphic / Auto / Willebrew use seem far more labour intensive for the bus operator’s office staff.
The ex Woods’ Crossley / Roe double decker referred to is in active preservation with Quantock Motor Services in Somerset, and does appear on special services occasionally (I can’t remember whether it’s full PSV status or only runs on free services at present) I conducted it on one day at their May 2009 Minehead event, one of our passengers was a member of the Wood family, who confirmed they had moved from Bell Punch to Ultimate (which matched what I was using) in later years.

KK 69521

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In looking for something else, I found this British Pathe film which shows the ‘confetti counters’ at work you can see the film here. 

KK 69521