Sir Harry Smith, bungling hero

Sir Harry Smith, Bungling HeroSir Harry Smith, Bungling Hero by A.L. Harington
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Sir Harry Smith arrived in the Cape Colony as Governor at the end of 1847, with a mandate to settle its affairs, and those of its neighbours as well. He was recalled in 1852, after a little more than four years, and his bungling cost the British taxpayers a lot of money, and impoverished and alienated most of the neighbours.

My main interest in reading his life was that a year before he arrived my wife Val’s Green ancestors arrived, and since they had come with the British military, Sir Harry Smith was their boss for those four years, and his policies (and bungling) shaped their lives as well as those of many others.

Val’s great great great grandfather, William Green, recently widowed, was transferred from Canada to the Cape Colony in about 1846, along with several of his children, including Val’s great great grandfather Fred Green, who was about 17 years old. Fred’s older brother Henry, like his father, joined the commissariat department, and another brother, Edward, joined the Cape Mounted Rifles as an ensign.

Edward enlisted in the middle of the 7th Frontier War, or 7th Kaffir War, as the British called it, otherwise known as the War of the Axe. It had begun when a man of the Ngqika tribe, Tlili, had been arrested for stealing an axe from a Fort Beaufort shopkeeper. His friends organised a jailbreak, and freed him by cutting off the hand of a fellow prisoner to whom he was handcuffed. The other prisoner subsequently died, so murder was added to the charges, and war was the result.

The British Secretary of State for War and Colonies, Henry Grey (the 3rd Earl Grey) in the Liberal government of Lord John Russell, decided to appoint Sir Harry Smith as Governor of the Cape Colony and Commander in Chief of British forces there to bring an end to the war (Harington 1980:88ff).

Harry Smith was a career soldier, and had served in the Cape Colony in the 1830s under Governor Sir Benjamin D’Urban, where he had taken part in the 6th Frontier War, and defeated the Xhosa tribes. He believed that the Xhosa people were tyrannised by their dictatorial chiefs, and thought that by deposing the chiefs he would liberate the Xhosas, so that they could be Christianised and civilised and become good citizens of the British Empire. On that occasion, when the Xhosa paramount chief Hintsa (who had taken little part in the fighting) came to the British camp under a flag of truce to negotiate peace terms, the British had treacherously kept him as a hostage, and finally treated him as a prisoner and murdered him while he was trying to “escape”. Smith then attempted to browbeat the other chiefs by intimidation and bluster, which he himself had referred to as “play-acting” so that, in effect, he pretended to rule them, and they pretended to surrender (Harington 1980:41ff).

Smith had then been transferred to India, where he had distinguished himself militarily against the Sikhs at the Battle of Aliwal, which had enhanced his reputation as a great military leader, and on the strength of this he was sent to the Cape Colony in three capacities – political (as Governor of the Cape Colony), diplomatic (as High Commissioner) and military (as Commander in Chief).

Sir Harry Smith

Sir Harry Smith

Smith arrived at Cape Town on 1 December 1847, when the Green family had been in the Cape Colony for about a year. He immediately set out on a tour of his domain.

With increasing numbers of British subjects (notably the Voortrekkers) from the Cape Colony settling north of the Orange River, the British government appointed Major Henry Douglas Warden as Resident in the area to keep the peace, and he settled on the farm Bloemfontein, near the Modder River in what was then known as Trans-Orangia. That, too, was to be on the itinerary of Smith’s grand tour.

The 7th Frontier War was almost over by the time Smith reached Port Elizabeth on 14 December 1847. Among those there to greet him was the Ngqika chief Maqoma, one of Smith’s old enemies from the 6th Frontier War. Maqoma had been neutral in the 7th Frontier War, and so had sat on his horse, unmolested, among the crowd who were waiting for Smith. Harington (1980:98f) describes what happened next:

From a window in the Phoenix Hotel [Smith] looked down upon an excited crowd that included many old friends and an old enemy, Maqoma himself, who astride his horse was especially prominent and noticed by Smith. To the amusement of the crowd the governor stared meaningfully at the chief, then half drew his sword. That should have been explicit enough, and sufficiently undignified, but Smith’s next actions show how success had gone to his head and affected his judgement. Though his intentions had always been good his earlier behaviour vis-à-vis the Xhosa had all too often been overbearing and eccentric, and he treated Maqoma in a manner that was outrageous, dangerous and foolish. He summoned the chief to his presence and when Maqoma offered his hand he was forced to prostrate himself in front of the governor who, having placed his foot upon his neck, poured forth a torrent of menacing vituperation over him, and threatened that all the other chiefs were going to get similar treatment. They were to be crushed and compelled to submit and obey.

Such was the man under whom three members of the Green family were to serve – William and his son Henry in the commissariat, and Edward as a Lieutenant in the Cape Mounted Rifles.

After browbeating the other Xhosa chiefs, Smith annexed their land between the Kei and Keiaskamma rivers under the name of British Kaffraria (later called the Ciskei), and told them that henceforth they would be under British rule.

In February 1848 Sir Harry Smith, after discussions with the Voortrekker leader Andries Pretorius, proclaimed British sovereignty over Trans-Orangia, and a village was laid out at Bloemfontein , with a fort and a garrison. The garrison consisted of the Cape Mounted Rifles, the 45th (Nottinghamshire) Regiment and the Royal Artillery88b:7). This was a mere ten years after the Great Trek.

The Sovereignty was challenged by the Boers, who proclaimed a republic at Winburg and marched on Bloemfontein, but were defeated by the British, lef by Sir Harry Smith, at the Battle of Boomplaats on 29 August 1848, where Henry Green was in charge of the commissariat. Henry Green remained in Bloemfontein, and eventually replaced the incompetent Major Harry Warden as British Resident in July 1852. In the mean time his younger brothers visited him there, and Henry seems to have found work for some of them to do, while Charles and Fred Green used it as a base for hunting expeditions to what is now Botswana. .

After a couple of years another frontier wart broke out (the 8th), and it is probably fair to say that Sir Harry Smith’s arrogance and overbearing manner in dealing with the Xhosa chiefs made it much more bitter than the preceding seven wars. He sent optimistic reports back to Earl Grey in Britain about his victories, but in spite of all the battles he claimed to have won, the Xhosas still occupied their strongholds and kept the British tied up in their forts. Eventually Harry Smith was recalled.

There is more in the book about his life before this period, though his recall marked the end of his career. It was also William Green’s last posting. In 1855 he retired on half pay, and went to live in London.

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A bit of Eastern Cape history

My great grandfather William Matthew Growdon came to the Cape Colony in 1876 to work on the railway being built inland from East London. My blogging friend Deon Strydom posted a photo of an interesting cottage built for those working on the line with a link to a site saying where it is and how to get there Tracks4Africa Padkos – Gangers Cottage (Historical Building):

When the railway line between East London and Queenstown was first built it bypassed Stutterheim by several kilometres. It was built during the Frontier War of 1877-1878 when the gangers (railway workers) were in danger of attack by Xhosa tribes. To protect the gangers, fortified ‘gangers cottages’ were built. Cottage No. 17 is situated on the Komga road which branches off the main road at Dohne Station. The cottage was declared a National monument on 3 December 1976. There are four tambours one on each corner, with slits so that the gangers could defend themselves against attack.

There was something of a frenzy of railway building after the discovery of diamonds at Kimberley — not that railways were needed to carry the diamonds, but rather to take mining equipment, and food and goods for the miners. Though the railways were owned and built by the Cape government, there was a certain amount of competition between the lines from the various ports.

Great grandfather William Matthew Growdon came from Cornwall with his family (my grandfather George Growdon was 3 years old at the time). He had been a stonemason in Cornwall, so perhaps he had a hand in building this fortified cottage too.

Railway workers' cottage near Stutterheim in the Eastern Cape

Railway workers’ cottage near Stutterheim in the Eastern Cape

Interestingly enough some of William Matthew Growdon’s descendants are still living in the vicinity of Stutterheim, and if you are passing you can go there to stay in a somewhat different kind of cottage. The place is The Shire, just outside Stutterheim, where my cousins Hamish, Monica and Rob Scott live.

Click on the links for more pictures and stories.

 

Meeting new Green cousins

Last Saturday we met some cousins on the Green side of the family that we had not met before when we met Rupert and Sarah McKerron for coffee. Rupert is Val’s fourth cousin on the Green side of the family, and though we had been in correspondence with people from that side of the family, it was good to meet some face to face.

Val Hayes with Rupert & Sarah McKerron 14 May 2016

Val Hayes with Rupert & Sarah McKerron 14 May 2016

Rupert and Sarah have a bush cottage that they named after the Green brothers, and we met to swap stories about them.

The Green family came to the Eastern Cape about 1846. The paterfamilias, William Goodall Green, who was born in Quebec in 1790, was in the Commissariat Department of the British Army based in Newfoundland, when he was transferred to the Cape Colony, probably as part of a boosting of British military strength because of the War of the Axe (1846-1850). William Green’s wife Margaret had died a couple of years earlier, and some of their 15 children died young, but quite a number of them seem to have come to southern Africa at that time.

Henry Green, the eldest, and Rupert’s ancestor, had followed his father into the commissariat department, and accompanied a British force led by Major Harold Warden to what was then called Trans-Orangia (now the Free State province). After establishing British authority and defeating the short-lived Republic of Winburg at the Battle of Boomplaats Warden was appointed British Resident of what became the Orange River Sovereignty, and he established a capital on the farm Bloemfontein. Henry Green succeeded Warden as British Resident in 1852, but his post lapsed in 1854 when the Sovereignty was abandoned and the republic of the Oranje-Vrijstaat was established.

Another of the Green brothers, Edward, joined the Cape Mounted Rifles, took part in the War of the Axe, and was wounded in the thigh. He married Emily Ogilvie of Grahamstown, and after having two children they left, Emily to stay with family in England, and Edward to India, and later to China, where he took part in the Opium Wars, the aim of which was to persuade the Chinese government to lift its embargo in the importation of drugs. Edward Green never returned either to the Cape Colony or Canada, but eventually settled in New Zealand.

Three other brothers, Charles, Fred and Arthur, went to Bloemfontein. Arthur, the youngest, got a job in his brother Henry’s office, while Charles and Fred, aged 25 and 21 respectively, set out to the north-west on a hunting expedition. In those days elephant hunting and the sale of ivory must have seemed like an easy way for young men to earn a living. Charles and Fred Green returned to Bloemfontein as their base after each hunting season, and spent their holidays playing billiards and cards with the soldiers, and taking them on hunting trips on nearby farms. Fred (Val’s great great grandfather) seems to have planned to settle there, because he bought a plot of land in Bloemfontein.

Charles and Fred were friends with the Bakwena chief Setshele (his name is sometimes spelt Sechele), and left cattle in his care when they went west up the Boteti (or Botletle) River to Lake Ngami, where tsetse flies were bad for cattle (follow the links to read more about their journeys). On their return they found that their cattle had been looted by Boer raiders from the Transvaal, who had also wrecked David Livingstone’s house in Kolobeng, and abducted hundreds of women and children as slaves.

Charles and Fred took Setchele with them to lay his complaints before the British government, in the person of their brother Henry, but he was told by his superior, the Governor of the Cape Colony, that since the signing of the Sand River Convention in 1852 the British government took no official interest in events north of the Vaal River. Charles Green may have accompanied Setshele back home, and then possibly went to Australia, perhaps with his sister Agnes, whose first child, Caroline Wilson, was born in Sydney in 1854.

After reconnoitering trade routes to east and west, Fred Green seems to have decided that the western route was safer, and made his base in Damaraland, later called Hereroland, and now part of Namibia, and spent the rest of his life there. Charles joined him a couple of years later, but was drowned in the Okavango River when his boat was upset by a hippo in the early 1860s. I don’t think Fred ever saw any of his siblings again.

Fred married three times. We know nothing of his first wife, other than that her name was Dixon and they had no children. The second was Sarah uaKandendu Kaipukire, a Herero princess. They had a daughter, but parted when the Hereros did not want her to accompany him to the Cape Colony. One of her descendants, Mburumba Kerina, is credited with the invention of the name Namibia.The third wife was Catherine Agnes Anne Stewardson, They had seven children, of whom four died young. Of the surviving ones, Fred Vincent Green was Val;s great grandfather.

Henry disappeared for 6 years, married his cousin Margaret Aitchison in England, and returned to the Cape Colony in 1860 as Civil Commissioner and Magistrate of Colesberg. His wife and two children died soon after their arrival, but she still lives on as the family ghost. He married again to Countess Ida Von Lilienstein, and had several children by her, and many of the Green descendants in southern Africa come from them. When diamonds were discovered near Kimberley Henry Green went with a syndicate to work them, became a member of the legislative assemby for Griqualand West, and then retired to his farm near Barkly West, where he died in 1884.

Arthur Green became a photographer, and achieved some fame as a pioneer in that field. His daughter Agnes married twice and had children, some of whom were born in Canada, but eventually returned to South Africa. We met one of his descendnats some years ago, Doreen Armstrong of Pinetown, who was also interested in the family history.

Agnes Green, who went to Australia, married four times (twice to the same man). Her first husband was William Wilson, who drowned in the Tuross River in New South Wales. She next married Alfred Dawson Francis, who may have caused a stir in Durban  as Alfred Francis Dawson. He committed suicide, and she then married William McLean Thwaites, once bigamously in Sydney, and the second time after the birth of their four children, in Adelaide. Though she never returned to South Africa, some of the grandchildren of each of her marriages did. Caroline Wilson, the eldest daughter, went to New Zealand to stay with her uncle Edward Lister Green. She married  Roy Ashley Warre Brathwaite, and one of their children, Frank Brathwaite, came to South Africa and made a name for himself as a racing tipster. Arthur Walpole Francis, a son of her second marriage, lived at Langlaagte, near Johannesburg, and made contact with several of Fred Green’s family, who had moved to the Transvaal after his death. One of his daughters married a coffee planter from Tanganyika, and was caught in Germany diring the first and second world wars. One of her sons was killed in the German army during the invasion of Poland in 1939. Her letters to her sister in Sydney provide a fascinating insight into the history of that side of the family.

Another member of the Francis side of the family was Peter Bridges, whom we met in Johannesburg, and whose granddaughter Jenny was at the same school as our daughter Bridget for a while. Peter discovered that on his mother’s side he was descended from another of the Green siblings, Caroline, who married Robert Leslie Cowan and died of cholera in Shanghai in 1863.

So the Green brothers had interesting lives, and seem to have spread the family to many different parts of the world, with quite a number from several branches still living in South Africa and Namibia.

Linking the Growdens

When we started researching our family history more than 40 years ago, one of the things we soon discovered about the Growdon or Growden family was that everyone said they came from Cornwall, and that they were all related. Louise Deragowski of New Orleans, one of the first Growden researchers we made contact with, quoted another relative as saying that “they lived so close, they traded roosters”.

My mother was Ella Growdon, and her father George Growdon came from Cornwall in 1876 at the age of three, when his father, William Matthew Growden, came to work in the Cape Government Railways, building the rail line inland from East London. We soon traced his ancestry though is father Matthew Growden, and his father William Growden, who married Elizabeth Saundercock, and there we were stuck. It took a couple of years to be fairly certain my my relationship with Louise Deragowski (she was my 4th cousin). She was in contact with lots of others, including Sylvia Reebel, who researched the Pennsylvania Growdens, and we all owe a great debt to those two, because much of what we know comes from them, though they never did manage to discover how they were related.

We discovered some other Growden families, who came from the same area of Cornwall, but no links between them. We made a Growdon family web page, and invited members of the various Growden families to help us find the links between them. Then Marguerite Growden, who was originally from Australia, and is now living in Canada, discovered some Growden baptisms in Withiel, Cornwall, that seems to provide the missing links that draw all these families together.

Withiel, Cornwall, where the Growden family lived in the early 18th century.

Withiel, Cornwall, where the Growden family lived in the early 18th century.

Laurence Growden married Elizabeth Vanson in Withiel in 1719, and had four children, Laurence, Matthew, Joseph and Elizabeth. Most of the Growden families in the world today are descended from Laurence and Joseph.

Laurence Growden the younger (1721-1787) married Joanna Thomas, and they are the ancestors of the South African, Australian, Canadian, Lancashire, Tennessee, Louisiana and Alaska Growdens,

Joseph Growden (1726-1811) married Grace Jeffery and they are the ancestors of the Pennsylvania, Maryland, Ohio, California, and Yorkshire Growdens.

The exception to this is the New Zealand Growdens, who are descended from Edwin Williams alias Edwin Growden, who was the stepson of Thomas Growden who married Edwin’s mother Charlotte Hawke. Edwin took his stepfather’s name and passed it on to his descendants.

Louisiana Growdens: Arthur Bruce Joseph Growden, Vicki Growden and Lori Growden Murphy at Southern Yacht Club, 2 June 2013

Louisiana Growdens: Arthur Bruce Joseph Growden, Vicki Growden, Lori Growden Murphy, and Thomas Bradley (Brad) Growden at the Southern Yacht Club, 2 June 2013

Some of these links are based on circumstantial evidence, but they seem the most likely explanations of the relationships that we have been able to find.

Grave of George Growden and Ann Maynard, ancestors of the Australian Growdens, in Wallaway, South Australia.?????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

Grave of George Growden and Ann Maynard, ancestors of the Australian Growdens, in Wallaway, South Australia (click to enlarge).

Marguerite Growden, who found these links, has also written a book on the Australian branch of the Growdens, and so when it comes out a whole lot more people can find it interesting, knowing that she is writing about our cousins. Though some of the other branches of the Growden family have descendants in Australia, most of those bearing the surname Growden are descended from George Growden and Ann Maynard, who emigrated from Cornwall to South Australia in 1864.

Most branches of the family seem to have used the spellings Growden and Growdon interchangeably, and a few earlier records have the spelling Grouden. But most seem to use the Growden spelling. Our South African branch seems to have used the Growdon spelling almost exclusively.

 

 

 

Toyota Corolla deja vu

Back in 1977 we moved from Utrecht to Melmoth, where I was to be Director of Training for Ministry for the Anglican Diocese of Zululand. The parish of All Saints, Melmoth, bought a new car for us to use, a Toyota Corolla.

Our brand-new Toyota Corolla, October 1977

Our brand-new Toyota Corolla, October 1977

When we left Melmoth at the end of 1982 to move to Pretoria, the parish gave us the Corolla as a farewell gift. Well actually they gave it to Val, as her car, a 1972 Fiat 124, had been wiped out by a bakkie that came out of a track hidden by the sugar cane at high speed, and took the whole road to make the bend.

So we used the Corolla for the next few years, and when Jethro was about 12 I gave him driving lessons in it, driving around the garden. He was the only one of our children who showed any interest in that sort of thing.

The Corolla eventually got old and tired and unreliable, and about 12 years ago we sold it to the gardener.

Then Jethro saw a Corolla adverised on an online auction site. He drove down to Soweto to look at it, and decided he wanted to get it as a restoration project. It was a 1975 model, two years older than our “old” Corolla, and today he hired a trailer and went to fetch it.

Jethro brings his 40-year-old Toyota Corolla home

Jethro brings his 40-year-old Toyota Corolla home

It looks as though it is going to need quite a lot of work.

Our cars, ;ole us, are getting older. We've had the Subaru Legacy for 10 years now, and it was five years old when we got it, but it is young and sprightly compared with Jethro's new acquisition.

Our cars, like us, are getting older. We’ve had the Subaru Legacy for 10 years now, and it was five years old when we got it, but it is young and sprightly compared with Jethro’s new acquisition.

So the new old Toyota Corolla arrives in its new home. I suspect that it’s going to be around for quite a while.

Touching ground at its new home

Touching ground at its new home

50 Years Ago: London Transport

Fifty years ago today I started working for London Transport, now, apparently, called “Transport for London”. Bureaucrats will never use two words where three will do.

I had left South Africa six weeks earlier, driving to Bulawayo and then flying to London to avoid a meeting with Detective Sergeant van den Heever of the Johannesburg SB, who, I suspected, wanted to give me a banning order (suspicions that later proved correct, the banning order had been signed by the Minister of Justice, B.J. Vorster, on 11 January 1966) .

I was meant to begin studying at St Chad’s College in Durham in September 1966, and so had about 8 months to wait and support myself in the mean time. The trouble was that I had landed in the UK as a student, and as an alien I needed a work permit, which I didn’t have. Perhaps St Chad helped with his intercessions to get me the job, as 2 March is St Chad’s Day.

Willie Hannan, MP; my mother's cousin.

Willie Hannan, MP; my mother’s cousin.

But there was also earthly help in the form of shameless nepotism, as my mother’s cousin, Willie Hannan, was MP for Maryhill in Glasgow, and managed to find out, through his contacts in the Ministry of Labour,  which hoops I would have to jump through to get a work permit. It seemed that the great fear of the Ministry of Labour was that if they employed foreign workers, it would lead to a strike. It helped to be able to point out that London Transport was short of 7000 drivers and conductors, and that if Brit labour was available they would surely have filled those vacancies already.

So, after getting the necessary stamps in my Alien’s Registration Certificate, I presented myself at the training school at Chiswick Works on Wednesday 2 March 1966.

The day at Chiswick started off very much like the JMT training
school, from the days when I had driven buses in Johannesburg. . Even the pattern of the wooden benches seemed familiar. There were lectures on the whats and whys and wherefores of London Transport, and we were issued with rule books and maps and things. Then a guy doing personnel research came along and wanted to know why we were going on the job. Then came a lecture on the Highway Code, and the PSV test, and the lecturer, Powell, adopted the same moralising tone of the JMT instructors, Sonny Lotter, Jackie Schultz, Harry Nye, and Jacob Venter.

After lunch we were issued with uniforms, and allotted to instructors, and after tea my instructor explained the type of bus to me. It was a Leyland, with the same preselector gears as the AEC Mark IIIs we had driven in Joburg. I drove it for a couple of miles, and the instructor said I should pass my test fairly easily.

12 Brancaster Road, Streatham, where I lived while I was working for London Transport.

12 Brancaster Road, Streatham, where I lived while I was working for London Transport.

We left the bus at Camberwell garage, and there were three other blokes with me, only the other three had started on Monday. We arranged to meet the instructor at 8:00 the next morning at Camberwell garage, and I went back home and packed my things, and took them over to my new lodgings at 12 Brancaster Road, Streatham, which was fairly close to Brixton London Transport garage, where I would be working.

I had spent nearly six weeks staying with Canon Eric James, who had taken me in when I arrived in London as a semi-refugee. He was organiser of the “Parish and people” movement, which meant that he was out most of the time, visiting parishes and running courses and things like that. I would have loved to have gone with him to help him, even just by carrying his bags, and so, in a sense, earning my keep, but he never invited me to go, and I couldn’t very well invite myself. My landlady in Streatham was Mrs Emily Williams, from Sierra Leone. The adverisement had said she was an “African landlady”, and after six weeks in Britain I was feeling homesick enough for that to be an attraction, even though Sierra Leone was thousands of miles from South Afirca.

So the day ended wih me starting a new job, and living in a new home, a rather dingy bedsit that smelt of old cabbage, with only two thin blankets on the bed, so I used the London Transport issue greatcoat as well to try to keep warm. The training lasted a fortnight, and until I actually had to take the PSV test I was rather nervous about driving. The bus itself was familiar enough, as I had driven similar buses in Johannesburg, but the traffic patterns were different. The streets were more winding, and behaviour at intersections was different too. While I was driving the instructor, Harry Webb kept talking and asking me all kinds of questions about life in South Africa. At first I found it rather annoying, and thought he should have known better, but then I thought it was perhaps deliberate, and he was trying to see how easily I would be distracted.

The most interesting thing in the training was driving on the skid pan, with the first demonstration being an uncontrolled skid, where the double-decker bus spun around a couple of times, rocking quite alarmingly, and the difference when one corrected the skid. Similarly there was emergency braking, and seeing how much more quickly the bus stopped when one pumped the brake bedal. Fifty years ago vehicles were not fitted with ABS mechanisms, which do that automatically.

After passing our test we went to our various garages. We had visited them all in training, and I was pleased that Brixton seemed to be one of the better ones, with good food in the staff canteen. Some of the menus were unfamiliar — I once saw rice on the menu and asked for some, and they asked if I wanted custord on it. It turned out that it was rice pudding.

Staff canteen at Brixton LT Garage

Staff canteen at Brixton LT Garage

The first few days at the garage I had to learn the routes, so just rode around on the buses seeing where they went.

Steve Hayes, with PSV licence N81127, issued by the Public Carriage Office by the police.

Steve Hayes, with PSV licence N81127, issued by the Public Carriage Office by the police.

The most common routes were the 109 route, from the Embankment to Purley, and 95A, from Cannon Street Station to Tooting Broadway. There were a couple of Sundays-only routes, the longest being the 133 from Croydon to Hendon, and it was easy to get lost, because it was so seldom that one had a job that included that route.

I once got lost in my early days. We did Job 25 on Route 95, and I got lost on the way to Cannon Street — at least I missed a turning and it was too late to go back, so I could only go on. I thought I could go round the block, but not a chance. In London there are no blocks. And we ended up driving past St Pauls, down Ludgate Hill, and over Blackfriars Bridge, miles off course. It was then too late to bother going back to look for Cannon Street, so we went on our way back to Tooting Broadway. When we came off after the first half I thought I had better tell an inspector at the garage, in case they wondered what had happened. But he didn’t seem at all worried, and said as long as the coppers didn’t get me there was nothing to worry about. It struck me that the coppers had a lot of say about everything in connection with buses, it was almost like a police state After our break we did a half trip to Tooting, and I couldn’t see to read my time card, and the conductress rang the bell at the garage, and we nearly went on to Cannon Street again. we took over our last bus, and finished at 10:30 without any further incidencts.

 

Steve Hayes and Lascelles Wood

Steve Hayes and Lascelles Wood

At first we had two kinds of buses, the RT type, which was similar to the AEC Mark III buses we had driven in Johannesburg, and the RTW, which were similar, but a little bit wider. After a couple of months these were replaced by the newer Routemaster buses, and the RTWs were sold to Ceylon (Sri Lanka). The Routemasters were used on the 95A route.

Routemaster bus at Brixton Garage.

Routemaster bus at Brixton Garage.

The Routemaster bus had an automatic gearbox, but it was controlled by speed, which made it unpleasant to drive late at night, when there was little traffic, as one had to drive slowly, and it kept changing down into third gear even wehn it wasn’t necessary. Another thing that took some getting used to was the British practice of driving at night without headlights. People only used headlights on rural roads, where there were no streetlights. The most difficult thing was pulling away from a bus stop with cars coming up from behind, and they were often difficult to see if there were lots of shop lights and others.

RT bus at Purley terminus.

RT bus at Purley terminus.

One of the perks of working for London Transport was a free bus pass, which was good for the red central buses, the green country buses and the Underground. I used mine to explore London, and visit widely scattered friends who lived in different parts of London. Willie Hannan was the only relative I knew of in London, and he usually went back to Scotland for the weekends..

Brixton LT bus garage

Brixton LT bus garage

One of the interesting things I discovered was that one of the inspectors at Cannon Street Station, the town terminus of the 95A route, was a worker priest, and after work he organised Bible studies and such things.

Lascelles Wood and Steve Hayes, with Revd Inspector Tom Field (in cap) at Cannon Street Station.

Lascelles Wood and Steve Hayes, with Revd Inspector Tom Field (in cap) at Cannon Street Station.

On my first free Sunday I went to Mass at St Leonard’s Church, down the road. It was all rather strange. The church itself was rather old, and similar in some ways to the old Maritzburg Cathedral, with fancy woodwork and choir screen and the rest of the trimmings. However there was a nave altar, and the priest celebrated facing the people, and the altar was left bare until the offertory. They also used ordinary bread, and not wafers. However the place still managed to convey the impression of deadness, as if the heart of the people was not in it, any more than when it was done the other way. I noticed my landlady’s son singing in the choir, and said hello to them, but had not had much contact with the family, being out most of the time.

My landlady's daughter Joyce (on scooter) and son (on right). Joyce was in her final year at school, and was hoping to go to university to read history when she finished.

My landlady’s daughter Joyce (on scooter) and son (on right). Joyce was in her final year at school, and was hoping to go to university to read history when she finished.

I worked my last shift on London Transport on 20 September 1966, and hired a car to take all my goods to Durham. I was not aware that there was a thing called British Road Services that would have taken my trunk door to door for 5 bob (25p). I don’t think such a thing would be possible today.

 

 

 

Barking at beetles

Yesterday our dog Squiffylugs died. She was diagnosed with bone cancer just over a year ago, and we were told that the prognosis was not good, and that we couldn’t expect to have her more than a few weeks. So her death, though sad, was not unexpected, and we had her for another year.

In May, expecting her time to be short, we got a puppy, Pimen, so that when Squiffylugs died her father, Samwise, would still have a canine companion.

Pimen, watching beatles

Pimen, watching beatles

Pimen has grown a bit, and his latest hobby is barking at beetles.

Harassed beetle

Harassed beetle

The beetles crawled out of the compost heap, only to be pawed at and barked at, and eventually our son Simon rescured them and put them over the road, where they would be safer from Pimen at least. This bettle looked patriotic, a bit like the South African flag, or perhaps it supports the ANC.

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