Here is a Willebrew ticket dating from the mid-1960s, from another operator that traded as Felix. Started in the early 1920s by Norman Frost of Stanley, a village east of Derby, he continued to own the company until his death in 1975. The main operation was (and continues to be) a regular service between Derby and Ilkeston, via Chaddesden, Stanley and West Hallam. Trent also operated a roughly parallel route serving different intermediate villages.
You will notice that the left hand margin of the ticket is headed "Stage boarded". I am afraid you will have to take it from me that there is a number impressed into the ticket by the guillotine, just to the left of the word "on" in the line "Passengers should note the price remaining ON the ticket." No doubt a useful feature – except that it is impossible to read the stage number even on the original!
The fleet of 7 or 8 vehicles was apparently dominated by Denises until 1940 after which Bedfords ruled the roost until 1985. Livery was red and maroon adorned with a black cartoon "Felix the cat". However in 2009, "Felix the Cat Creations Inc." of the USA (wouldn’t you know it?) claimed to own copyright for all images of cats used next to the Felix name and threatened legal action. The company took a leaf out of Jerome K Jerome’s book – "If someone tries to steal my wallet I fight him, but if he threatens to sue me at law I hand over the goods and consider I have got off lightly." Accordingly, all cat images have now disappeared from the buses, though the Felix name lives on. The Derby – Ilkeston services are now operated jointly with Trent-Barton, marketed as "The Black Cat". I dislike the modern pre-occupation with individual route branding, and would normally say, "Why can’t they just go back to plain old route numbers?" But of course, with only one route Felix didn’t use numbers either.
Photograph and Copy contributed by Stephen Ford