Monthly Archives: August 2014

Afternoon Tea Bus Tour …

BB Bakery Afternoon Tea Bus Tour

Chocablog, 12 August 2014


BB Bakery Afternoon Tea Bus Tour

In case you hadn’t heard, it’s National Afternoon Tea Week here in the UK and we’ve been celebrating in style with an afternoon tea with a difference! Covent Garden based BB Bakery recently bought an old Routemaster double decker bus and converted it into a rather fun venue for afternoon tea – a venue that moves!

As you enjoy your afternoon tea, the BB Bus tours some of London’s famous landmarks, making other commuters with their old-fashioned non-afternoon-tea transportation very jealous indeed!

BB Bakery Afternoon Tea Bus Tour

Of course, eating and drinking in a moving vehicle does present challenges, so this is a little different from the average afternoon tea. Freshly squeezed orange juice comes in little bottles with lids and the tea itself is served in ceramic versions of takeaway coffee cups with rubber lids. The cups fit neatly into recessed cup holders in the tables and (mostly) keep everything quite secure. We did encounter one or two challenging “bumps” in the road, but that was really all part of the fun.

BB Bakery Afternoon Tea Bus Tour

The food was very pleasant, with most of the meal laid out beforehand (being a waiter on a moving bus is another callenge!). There were little sandwiches, savouries and a nice selection of sweet treats to go with the tea, including this tempting little chocolate tart.

BB Bakery Afternoon Tea Bus Tour

But of course, the best part of the experience is watching London go buy while you sit in comfort. There can’t be many afternoon teas where you get constantly changing views like this!

BB Bakery Afternoon Tea Bus Tour

I had a fantastic time on the bus, but there were a few minor issues with it that I’m sure the BB team can resolve in time.

The biggest of those was with the tea. A selection of Tea Pigs teabags was available, which are Ok, but not the greatest teas in the world. A bigger problem was with the cups themselves. Drinking tea through a mug with a rubber lid isn’t a great experience and ends up just making the tea taste of rubber. Milk was presented in those little UHT cartons, so I opted to have mine black and risk drinking it without the lid.

I would have also liked to have had some form of commentary on the tour itself. I like the fact that we were mostly left in peace to eat and chat, but it would have been great to have a few landmarks pointed out.

BB Bakery Afternoon Tea Bus Tour

That aside, the Afternoon Tea Bus Tour is a thoroughly enjoyable experience. By it’s nature, it’s not the most refined afternoon tea experience, but shared with a group it’s a whole lot of fun. The challenge of eating and drinking while moving becomes part of the entertainment.

The BB Bakery Afternoon Tea Bus Tour costs £45 per person. Thanks to for arranging this press trip and organising National Afternoon Tea Week!

Call for better regulation of regional bus services

BBC News web site, 26 August 2014

Bus services outside London need better regulation, according to a report by a centre-left think tank.

The Institute for Public Policy Research said the subsidised London system was a success, but deregulation elsewhere had “largely failed”.

Since 1986, overall bus use outside London has fallen by 32.5%, while rising 99% in London, it said.

Uncompetitive providers should be “held to account”, it urged.

The IPPR said around 2.5m people in Great Britain outside London commuted to work by bus, making up 8.5% of the working population.

The report said that, although passenger numbers have dropped by a third outside London since 1986, the poorest made three times as many trips by bus as the richest.

It said the poorest 20% of households had resorted to taking taxis in some cases, more than any other group in society.

Earlier this year, the Local Government Association warned that elderly and disabled passengers could lose vital bus services because of cuts in government funding.

The Department for Transport said it provides “significant funding for bus services across England and Wales.”

A spokesperson for the department said: “Decisions about bus services are best made locally in partnership between councils and the companies which run the buses, and to make this easier the government has recently devolved a further £40m of the money spent nationally on bus subsidy to local councils outside London.”

‘Deregulation failure’

Will Straw, associate director at the IPPR, said: “London has the best buses in Britain and that’s no accident.

“Examples of successful bus markets outside London are all too rare so local transport bodies should be given greater powers to hold uncompetitive providers to account.”

London bus on Westminster Bridge

Stephen Glaister, a transport economist and former TfL board member who advised the government on deregulation in the 1980s, opposes the regulation of regional services.

He said: “The reason London has done so very well has been an enormous increase in the amount of public money going into subsidising the level of service.

“Out of London that hasn’t happened, and local authorities, as we all know, are struggling a great deal with their finances.

“I can’t imagine how rural services, which are already procured under tender by local authorities, will be helped by the regulatory system.”

Transport industry body CPT, which represents major bus operators including Arriva, FirstGroup, and Stagecoach, said that there would be “absolutely no justification” for having bus operations regulated by local transport authorities.

“Time and again the evidence shows that where bus services are under the control of cash-strapped local authorities fares are higher, the market is less stable, services are being lost, and passenger satisfaction rates are lower,” said CPT chief executive Simon Posner.

The most expensive urban weekly bus ticket in the country is sold in London, he added.

Roads could lose white lines to slow traffic

The Times, Billy Kenber, 26 August 2014

White lines could be removed from the centre of roads in London as research showed that this cut speeds because motorists’ confidence was reduced.

Transport for London conducted a study on three stretches of road in the capital and found a dramatic reduction in speed. The report said one theory was that “centre lines and hatching can provide a psychological sense of confidence to drivers that no vehicles will encroach on ‘their’ side of the road”.

The average speed of southbound cars on a 650m stretch of Seven Sisters Road, north London, fell from 32.4mph to 28.3mph as a result of the change.

Earlier trials in Wiltshire and Norfolk found that removing white lines had led to a reduction in collisions.

TfL said it would continue to monitor the trial sites and was looking at removing white lines at other locations, although some would be unsuitable due to the proximity of busy junctions.

Tories build bridges with northern voters

The Times, Michael Savage and Francis Elliott, 6 August 2014

A £15 billion plan to create the “Crossrail of the North” was endorsed by George Osborne yesterday in the Conservatives’ latest attempt to woo voters in the region.

Speaking in Manchester yesterday, the chancellor of the exchequer lent his support to an investment scheme drawn up by representatives from Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle and Sheffield, and said the north could generate an extra £44 billion by 2030 if its economy caught up with the rest of the UK.

There is a huge gulf in the public resources provided to English regions. London receives more than 20 times the spending on infrastructure that the north east gets, some estimates say.

Figures from the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) show that spending on transport infrastructure in the government’s national infrastructure plan is £5,312 per person in London, but £420 per person in the northwest and only £157 per person in the north east.

It also found that 80 per cent of the projects in the 20-year national infrastructure plan in London were up and running, compared with less than 60 per cent in the north.

Mr Osborne is leading a concerted attempt by the Conservatives to boost their standing in the north. Some evidence suggests that the Tories are starting to repair their disastrous poll ratings in the region. A YouGov poll published yesterday suggested that Labour had a seven-point lead among northern voters, a 23-point fall from last spring.

The chancellor appeared alongside leaders of the major northern cities yesterday to promise that projects designed to boost the north would be announced in the autumn statement.

A plan drawn up by Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle and Sheffield published yesterday included improved rail links and reduced journey times, bigger road capacity and better links to Manchester airport. Mr Osborne praised the proposals and said they were affordable. “If we can bring these northern cities together with these individual transport schemes that create a collective northern powerhouse, then you might achieve something really important in our country that has eluded successive governments of different colours — a real improvement of economic wealth in the north,” he said.

Sir Richard Leese, leader of Manchester city council, said that the north had been hit by “years of neglect and under-investment”.

“East-west journeys take almost twice as long as equivalent journeys in the south and our rail links are too slow and uncoordinated,” he said. “Our motorways are congested, and there is an over-reliance on the M62.”

Ed Cox, the director of IPPR North, said: “I would say these plans are really important and don’t come a moment too soon because historically the north has fared worse than the south. But in part that’s because we have lacked the kind of leadership and the plan we have today.”

Local leaders have been using Mr Osborne’s campaign to bank pledges before the election and put pressure on Ed Miliband to follow suit in making big concessions to boost Britain’s regions. Labour was criticised last year when its support for the HS2 line between Manchester, Leeds, Birmingham and London appeared to waver.

Meanwhile, Labour’s policy to devolve spending power to local councils is in danger of unravelling only weeks after Mr Miliband announced it.

The Labour leader announced proposals to reward groups of councils that worked together to boost regional growth by allowing them to keep all the extra business taxes raised as a result.

Mr Miliband said that the proposals, which formed the centrepiece of Labour’s plan, would help to mend Britain’s “fractured economy” as he announced a review led by Lord Adonis, the former transport secretary.

However, the plan has angered Labour MPs, who warn that it could widen the divide between wealthy councils in the south and those struggling to attract business in the north.

To appease MPs in the north east, the region has been exempted from the policy and told to come up with an alternative plan.


Geoffrey Hilditch

The Times, 9 August 2014

Bus company manager whose passion for his work helped to revive vehicles made in Britain

General managers of municipal bus companies were once prominent figures who had their names written in gold leaf on the side of the vehicles they shepherded through Britain’s towns and cities. As a bus-obsessed boy in Cheshire, Geoffrey Hilditch decided that one day his name would be emblazoned on the side of a bus.

In this quest, Hilditch had a profound impact on British buses as he climbed the industry ladder, becoming the youngest general manager of a bus company at 33, advising the Thatcher government on its privatisation of the industry in the mid-1980s and helping to secure the survival of British bus manufacturing.

He took great pleasure in driving the buses himself and his vision for the ideal urban workhorse was the Dennis Dominator: a rear-engined double decker, which he helped to develop in the 1970s while general manager at the Leicester bus company. Rear-engined buses had been introduced several years before to enable drivers to take fares and render the traditional conductor redundant. However, early versions brought out by Leyland and Scania were blighted by reliability problems. Hilditch was particularly frustrated with the industry leader British Leyland, which he witheringly called “Old Mother Leyland”. The ailing giant was riven with industrial strife and more focused on trying to develop new cars. Hilditch believed it was using its market dominance in buses to restrict customer choice.

He cited the Dennis Loline as one of the best-engineered buses and had bought the last five built in 1967. The Guildford-based manufacturer had not built a bus for several years when Hilditch provided the company with a scrap vehicle on which to experiment. While general manager at Leicester he bought 143 Dominators — powered by Gardner engines — from 1977. The Dominator proved its reliability by remaining in service in Leicester until 2005. Today, the last Dominator still in operation works on a school run in Washington, Tyne and Wear.

Hilditch cut a traditional figure with his old-fashioned suits and slicked-back hair, but as the industry faced change, he moved with the times. In one of his provocative columns in industry magazines, such as Buses, he claimed that government subsidies were only inflating the price of building buses. After taking early retirement from Leicester in 1984, he became a trusted adviser to the transport minister Nicholas Ridley, who was drawing up plans to deregulate and privatise the industry.

No shrinking violet, he shamed Ridley into shelving plans to transfer local government pension rights to the arms’ length organisations that would initially replace municipal companies. “How would you like it.” he told Ridley, “if you worked in an industry all your life only to see your retirement rights stripped away at once.”

Hilditch had always supported the principal of “buying British” and believed that the privatised industry could be sustained by domestic manufacturing and engineering. While at Leicester, he had supported the development of the Avon Maxwell automatic gearbox as a British alternative to the German-made Voith gearbox. “If the product cannot come from a British-owned company then hopefully most of the order will begin life in a British factory,” he said.

Hilditch was heartbroken as great names in bus manufacturing went out of business. “Every time one is closed, another design team is broken up and it is only through the competitive activities of design teams that the breed improves,” he said. However, he was cheered when British bus building began to recover recently, with the emergence of Wrightbus in Northern Ireland, and the consolidation of Alexander, Dennis and Plaxton into Alexander Dennis, which saved the Guildford plant.

Geoffrey Graham Hilditch was born in Disley, Cheshire in 1926 and won a scholarship to Hulme grammar school in Oldham. The local bus company — needing to disperse its fleet in case the main depot was bombed during the war — started parking several of its vehicles opposite the family home. Hilditch, became an “unofficial staff member”. Sent to a newsagent to buy some pipe tobacco for his father, he paused outside the shop transfixed by a passing tram. The shopkeeper asked: “Are you interested in transport, lad?” When the boy nodded shyly, the proprietor gave him a transport magazine. From that day on, Hilditch devoured any bus literature he could lay his hands on.

He became an apprentice railway engineer in Manchester, but his heart was on the buses. The existence of so many municipal bus companies was good news for ambitious young engineers and Hilditch moved to Oldham, Coventry, Manchester and Leeds before becoming assistant engineer at Halifax in 1955. The steep hills of the West Yorkshire town provided a great challenge for a bus engineer, especially keeping fuel consumption to a minimum. Hilditch often landed himself in trouble for telling bus manufacturing executives what was wrong with their models.

In 1959 he became the youngest general manager in the country, in Great Yarmouth. He moved back to Halifax to become general manager in 1963 and on to Leicester in 1975. Here, he built up a reputation for answering all customer correspondence personally. When the cowboys and cowgirls of Leicester Western Society were barred from buses because of their replica guns, he wrote to commiserate and started his letter: “Howdy Partners,” before telling them that with regret they would have to find another wagon for their journey.

He went to extraordinary lengths to recruit the best young engineers. One such was, David Kent, who was working in Reading and thought he had failed his interview. Several weeks later he was working under a bus when one of his colleagues reported that a “strange man” was wandering around the garage inspecting operations. Hilditch announced he was going up “to have a chat with Jenkins” (Royston Jenkins, the general manager). “Mr Jenkins, I’ve had a look at Mr Kent’s workshops. They seem OK. He’s coming to Leicester. When can he start? I need him now. We’ll sort out the terms and money. How about next Monday?”

Hilditch was appointed OBE for pioneering the first bus service for disabled people in Leicester; he worked on the design of the bus with the Second World War flying ace Douglas Bader.

Hilditch never dismissed bus enthusiasts, however eccentric, as oddities — perhaps because he recognised something of himself in them. His future wife Muriel found as she sat nervously in his parents’ parlour that she had to place her legs in front of a model railway that had snaked around the house for years.

When Hilditch moved to Halifax he drilled tunnels between the bedrooms of his house to add further authenticity to his model railway. Later, while at Leicester, he kept his spare train sets in what was the general manager’s private toilet. He also built up a large collection of model buses.

He is survived by their son Christopher, who has also worked as an engineer and manager in the bus industry, and a daughter, Diane, a special needs teacher who as a child once mischievously wrote to her father to complain about her school bus service. Muriel died in 2007.

His autobiography, Steel Wheels and Rubber Tyres, found a wide readership who appreciated his wry style and social commentary. The third and fourth volumes will be published later this year. He has been given an eight-page obituary in Buses.

Hilditch would give his young engineers a verbal roasting if he thought it would improve their performance, but many of his charges still looked up to him as a father figure. One of them, John Hanchett, was killed along with his wife when a tree fell on their car. The Hanchetts’ two orphaned children were brought up by Hilditch and his wife.

Geoffrey Hilditch, OBE, bus manager, was born on February 27, 1926. He died of a heart attack on June 20, 2014, aged 88

French staff get on their bikes — for a small fee

The Times, Adam Sage, 13 August 2014

Thousands of French employees are being paid to pedal to work, under a government plan to take cycling beyond the Tour de France.

At present, millions of French people use la petite reine (the little queen), as the bicycle is nicknamed, for weekend rides, but relatively few do so to get to work. The transport ministry wants to change that with a system of financial incentives.

The project has been started on an experimental basis at 19 companies, with some members of staff earning hundreds of euros a month to pedal to the office or factory. If the experiment proves a success, all companies will be forced to offer their personnel the bike bonus, according to the transport ministry.

The initiative follows a study suggesting that bicycles account for only 2.4 per cent of journeys in France, compared with 8 per cent in Belgium and 25 per cent in the Netherlands.

The companies involved in the trial employ a total of about 10,000 people, and have agreed to pay their staff €2.50 for every 10km — about £1 for every three miles — that they cycle to work.

Managers say that many employees have taken to pedalling home for lunch to increase their bonus payments. Some are clocking up dozens of kilometres every day; the newspaper Le Figaro says that one man earned €345 in July.

French law obliges companies to meet 50 per cent of the cost of public transport for staff on home-to-work journeys. The authorities also give tax breaks to companies that offset the cost of petrol for employees who rely on their cars to commute.

“This trial will enable us to evaluate whether the system can be extended to the bicycle,” Frédéric Cuvillier, the transport minister, said. “I want the bicycle to become a means of transport in its own right.”

A recent report for the Ministry for Sustainable Development said that France used the bicycle until the Second World War, but then abandoned it in favour of the car.

Although the French still buy three million bicycles every year — the third highest rate per person in Europe, behind Germany and the Netherlands — they use them largely for leisure, according to the report. The result is that the average French person covers 55 miles a year on a bicycle, compared with 500 miles in Denmark.

Slow Rider Top Stuff! Top Gear man breaks ranks to back The Times on bikes

The Times Leader, 14 August 2014

James May doesn’t rock, long hair and leather jackets notwithstanding, but he does roll. He rolls on special occasions in a Ferrari and on airport runs in a Rolls-Royce Phantom Drophead. For longer urban errands he uses a small new BMW, and for shorter ones a folding Brompton bicycle.

Mr May’s admitted use of a bike is not the only thing that sets him apart from Jeremy Clarkson and Richard Hammond, his fellow Top Gear presenters, who call him Captain Slow. He is also, from today, the first of them to endorse The Times’ campaign for safer cycling.

This counts as progress — for the campaign, which emphatically shares the May view that “the roads belong to everybody”, and perhaps for Mr May himself. For it was barely five months ago that he took part in the presentation of four Top Gear cycle safety videos to Westminster Council. One suggested: “Work harder. Buy a car.”

Not everyone got the joke. In Oregon, where green radicals mingle uneasily with monster truck racers, there was earnest debate over whether the three British petrolheads might actually be serious. Back in Britain, one two-wheeled hill-climbing evangelist said he was “so angry I could put my fist through the TV”. The truth is Mr May is much more than a car guy. He is a former choirboy, a competent flautist and a well-read oenophile. It is hardly surprising that he sees the health benefits and the sheer common sense of cycling , which include the fact that more people on bicycles means more space left for driving.

In the manner of Rodney “can’t we all get along” King after the Los Angeles riots, he asks for an end to “road sectarianism”. He even backs our call for 4 per cent of the transport budget to be spent on better bike paths, which some believe should include “pootling” paths for slower riders. Captain Slow, meet Mr Pootler.

Top Gear rides to rescue of cyclists

The Times, Kaya Burgess, 14 August 2014

James May, the Top Gear presenter, has called for an end to “sectarianism” between drivers and cyclists on the roads and has given his support to The Times’s Cities Fit for Cycling campaign.

James May

The presenter is best known for his motoring expertise and 15-year association with Top Gear, but he also owns three bicycles and uses a folding bike to make short journeys near his west London home.

The Times’s campaign calls on the government to create an annual budget for building safe cycle routes, to encourage more people to travel by bicycle.

“I’m all for bicycles in cities,” said May, who has never been without one since he was three. “We use bicycles to go around locally and also for fun occasionally. Typically, our bike rides would be three or four miles. I go to the shops on it.”

He said that even Jeremy Clarkson, his Top Gear co-presenter, uses a bicycle for short journeys near his Oxfordshire home.

Cyclists and motorists are often depicted as warring tribes, but May said this was a dangerous attitude.

“We need to get rid of road sectarianism,” he said. “Car drivers supposedly hate cyclists, cyclists hate taxi drivers, taxi drivers hate motorcyclists, bus drivers hate lorries. I just think if everybody was a little bit more pragmatic, that would do more for safety.”

May, 51, dismissed claims from some motorists that cyclists do not belong on the roads.

“I would say that the roads belong to everybody,” he said. “That old argument that ‘I pay road tax and the bicycle doesn’t’ often isn’t true. In any case, roads are funded centrally so the tax [from Vehicle Excise Duty] doesn’t actually go on roads, so no one has a greater right to the road than anybody else, that’s nonsense.”

May said that cycling was “not going to cure the world of all its ills” and was not ideal for long commutes, but he said that increasing the number of cyclists would help to free up Britain’s “ludicrously overcrowded” roads.

“The benefits to driving if people ride bicycles are that there is more space left for driving,” he said. “It’s a simple arithmetic truism.”

This week marks a year since David Cameron pledged a “cycling revolution”. British Cycling has criticised the prime minister for failing to create an annual cycling budget to deliver his promise.

The Commons transport committee called on the government last month to spend £600 million a year on cycling. This is also a demand of The Times’s Cities Fit for Cycling campaign, supported by the AA and British Cycling.

Asked if he agreed with calls for this annual budget, worth about 4 per cent of the transport budget, May said: “Yes, I think that is fair enough.”

He added, however, that many cycle lanes found on roads were “complete bollocks” and created confusion rather than improved safety. Urban planners should spend more time riding bikes to understand what was needed, he said.

Asked if he supported plans in London to build segregated cycle routes on major roads, he said: “That would take a lot of brains and thought, but it is an essentially good idea.” May said that the presence of cyclists on roads was now an accepted part of city life. “Cycling is becoming more popular in London, there are a lot of bikes and people are starting to recognise that they need to be accommodated.

“There are so many more bicycles now than there were, say, a decade ago, that people notice them and subconsciously we are modifying the way we drive around town.

“There are people who talk about wanting to make safety clothing mandatory, road tax for bicycles, registering them and insuring them,” he added. “I think all that stuff is utter nonsense. The whole point of the bike is that you get on it and you ride it and you can ride it when you’re a kid or when you’re absolutely flat broke and it’s so agile.”

May encouraged cyclists to find quiet backstreet routes to avoid dangerous roads and suggested that it was reasonable for cyclists to ride “slowly and carefully” on wide pavements

In a less practicable suggestion, he also joked that London Tube lines could be torn up, with the tunnels turned into “bicycle and moped superhighways”.

The Times’s Cities Fit for Cycling campaign includes calls for:

All parties to pledge to create a £600 million annual cycling budget — just 4 per cent of the transport budget.

More than £900 million has been pledged in London over the next decade. More than £300 million has been spent for the rest of UK since 2010, but this is only one eighth of the level recommended by the Commons transport committee and no annual budget has yet been created.

All roads to be made safe for cycling at the design stage and for dangerous junctions to be redesigned

The government is due to release its Cycling Delivery Plan this month, outlining “cycle-proofing” measures. More than 10,000 Times readers identified blackspots on a map which was passed to the government as a guide.

All lorries operating in urban areas to be fitted with sensors, cameras and extra mirrors

The capital will ban lorries without extra mirrors and side-guards. Some supermarkets and cement firms and contractors have already insisted on fleets of cycle-friendly lorries.

Cycle safety to be a core part of the National Curriculum and the driving test

Funding for Bikeability training in schools has been extended to 2016, but many schoolchildren still do not receive it. The AA and BSM have introduced cycle safety as a module for all instructors.

Follow the campaign at

four days by bus from Land’s End to John O’Groats

The Telegraph, 5 July 2014

Spending four days and £170 on buses, Adam Mugliston beats the record by nearly a day

Adam Mugliston, who broke the record for the quickest journey from Land's End to John O'Groats by busA 16-year-old schoolboy has broken the record for the fastest journey from Land’s End to John O’Groats – by public bus.

Adam Mugliston spent four days and £170 on tickets travelling 1,167 miles on 36 different buses to beat the previous record by nearly a day.

He spent months poring over bus timetables to plan the quickest route and set off on his epic journey to mark the completion of his GCSEs.

Adam said: “I’m pretty knackered and glad to be home now. I got hardly any sleep, getting in after midnight and up again to get the bus before 6am.

“It was all worth it though. It was a great trip.

“My parents were a little worried about it but they were fine. They dropped me off at Land’s End.

“I’m in Year 11 and this is my way of celebrating finishing my exams.”

Adam, of Suffolk, started his journey on the number 1 bus from Land’s End to Truro on Monday (June 23) at 7.21am.

He made overnight stops at Bridgwater, Crewe, Newcastle, and Dundee Premier Inns – because the hotel chain was happy to accommodate a 16-year-old without parents.

Four days, 10 hours and 44 minutes later he stepped off the X97 at John O’Groats.

He came close to missing a bus change on his second day as the number 46 from Stroud to Cheltenham, Glos., was running late.

Adam only had nine minutes to spare when he got off the bus – just enough time to get his bearings and board the 801 to Moreton-in-Marsh, Gloucestershire.

The schoolboy has a passion for public transport and hopes to work in the industry after university.

He said: “Buses have always been my thing and I read about people trying the challenge so I thought I’d give it a go but do it quicker. After all, why not?

“I don’t know why, but I’ve always had an interest in buses. I want to go to university to study transport and hopefully get work with Transport for London. I’ve got work experience there this summer.

“I’d love to work in scheduling transport. That has been an issue while planning this trip.”

There is no official Guinness World Record for the feat but Adam’s time is believed to be almost a day quicker than anyone has completed the journey before.

Adrian Cole, membership secretary of the Land’s End John O’ Groats Association, said he had not heard of anyone coming close to Adam’s time before.

Mr Cole said: “Four days beggars belief. His predictions on bus times must have worked out well.

“From my experience on the buses – and I work for a bus company – that is really quite impressive.”

James Aukett, who works for London Buses, completed the journey in five days, seven hours and 25 minutes in 2011.

Steve Gibbs, 74, will be attempting the epic trip in August, but without as much cost as he will use his bus pass. He hopes to raise ?20,000 for Children In Need.

The record breaking route

Monday June 23

7:21 – 1 from Land’s End to Penzance, arriving at 8.30.

9.33 – 18 from Penzance to Truro, arriving at 11.16.

11.45 – 594 from Truro to Wadebridge, arriving at 12:55.

14.00 – 510 from Wadebridge to Exeter, arriving at 16.32.

17:00 – 1B from Exeter to Willand, arriving at 17.58.

18.22 – 22 from Willand to Taunton, arriving at 19.12.

19.55 – 21 from Taunton to Bridgwater, arriving at 20.39.

Tuesday June 24

5.48 – 21 from Bridgwater to Weston-super-Mare, arriving at 7.10.

7.32 – X1 from Weston-super-Mare to Bristol, arriving at 8.41.

9.02 – 47 from Bristol to Yate, arriving at 9.47.

10.15 – 84 from Yate to Wotton-under-Edge, arriving at 10.53.

11.30 – 40 from Wotton-under-Edge to Stroud, arriving at 12.10.

12.50 – 46 from Stroud to Cheltenham, arriving at 13.36.

13.45 – 801 from Cheltenham to Moreton-in-Marsh, arriving at 14.55 (did not arrive until 15.06).

15.15 – 22 from Moreton-in-Marsh to Stratford-upon-Avon, arriving at 16.20.

17.05 – X20 from Stratford-upon-Avon to Birmingham, arriving at 18.37.

19.15 – X51 from Birmingham to Walsall, arriving at 19.47.

20.05 – 2 from Walsall to Cannock, arriving at 20.40.

21.00 – 74 from Cannock to Stafford, arriving at 21.30.

21.53 – 101 from Stafford to Hanley, arriving at 22.47.

23.19 – 20 from Hanley to Crewe, arriving at 00.10.

Wednesday June 25

6.04 – 38 from Crewe to Macclesfield, arriving at 7.00.

7.15 – 130 from Macclesfield to Manchester, arriving at 9.22.

10.28 – 184 from Manchester to Huddersfield, arriving at 12.24.

12.45 – X6 from Huddersfield to Leeds, arriving at 14.07.

14.40 – 843 from Leeds to Scarborough, arriving at 17.37.

18.15 – X93 from Scarborough to Middlesbrough, arriving at 20.23.

20.15 – X10 from Middlesbrough to Newcastle, arriving at 22.23.

Thursday June 26

10.33 – X15 from Newcastle to Berwick-upon-Tweed, arriving at 12.58.

13.55 – 253 from Berwick-upon-Tweed to Edinburgh, arriving 16.08.

18.45 – X59 from Edinburgh to Guardbridge, arriving at 20.27.

21.02 – 99A from Guardbridge to Dundee, arriving at 21.02.

Friday June 27

6.30 – X7 from Dundee to Aberdeen, arriving at 9.01.

9.25 – 10 from Aberdeen to Inverness, arriving at 13.14.

14.40 – X99 from Inverness to Dunbeath, arriving at 16.56.

17.01 – X97 from Dunbeath to John O’Groats, arriving at

18.02. Three minute walk to the John O’Groats sign, arriving at 18.05.


Veterans’ Coach Tour Operator Calls a Halt

The Times, Miles Costello, 26 July 2014

A family owned bus and coach company that transports war veterans to the D-day landing sites in France fell into administration yesterday, sparking almost 90 job losses and leaving about 1,000 ticket holders in the lurch.

Staff at Hatts Coaches, which has been owned by the Hillier family since 1928, were told that the company had brought in administrators at FRP Advisory after running out of cash.

Hatts, which has sites in Salisbury, Worton and Foxham in Wiltshire, had been operating day trips to destinations in Britain and is popular among pensioners. Its fourth-generation family owners have been struggling for weeks to refinance the business.

It operated a fleet of 90 buses and coaches and provided the coach service for Bath Rugby team, a park-and-ride service on the outskirts of Salisbury city centre and trips to and from Dauntsey’s, the private school.

The administration also affected Bodmans Coaches, which employs 13 people, and Hatts’ direct mail order company, HQT.

However, with the business not thought to be a member of the Association of British Travel Agents or to have travel bonds, customers with pre-booked tickets are unlikely to be able to claim back their money. Those who booked using a credit or bank card should be able to obtain a refund from their provider, the administrators said.

Andrew Sheridan, an FRP partner and joint administrator, said: “The businesses simply ran out of cash. We are acutely aware of the distress and hardship many holidaymakers and day trippers will be suffering right now, particularly as so many of these are of an ‘older generation’.

“Our priority right now is to contact and provide dedicated helpline support for those who have paid for holidays, day trips and other private hire with Hatts.”

FRP said that it would continue to operate the park-and-ride in Salisbury and the Pewsey Vale Connect 2 Bus service with co-operation from Wiltshire County Council while it seeks a new owner. At present that has safeguarded 32 jobs.

The rest of the business has had to stop trading immediately and 89 staff have been made redundant.

The helpline number is 0800 4704633.