RTHA Autumn 2022 Conference

You will be aware from the notice in the last RTHA Journal and also various reminders that the committee has organised an autumn conference in Coventry on Saturday 8 October. This would be the first opportunity for a face to face meeting since the Covid lockdown of 2020 and we know that many members were keen to restart face to face meetings.

Unfortunately, the number of registrations has been exceptionally low. We recognise and understand that this may be for a variety of good reasons, notably uncertainty about rail travel on the date, some ongoing concern about Covid and ill-health of a number of members. So, with reluctance, we have had to cancel the arrangements for a face to face meeting. I would like to thank John for his sterling efforts in drawing up a programme and also identifying a suitable venue.

However, given that one of the topics was a report back by the steering committee on the future direction of the association, we feel that this should still go ahead by Zoom as it will affect all members. The online event will take place on Saturday 8 October (same date) from 11.00-12.30. There is no charge for this event and If you wish to attend, please contact John Ashley on in order to register. John will provide login details.

We are sorry to have to cancel – naturally, members who have paid will be refunded as soon as practicable.

We look forward to seeing you at the event.

Best regards

Rod Ashley (Chair)

RTHA AGM and Spring Conference 2022

The committee has reluctantly decided that, at the time of going to press, conditions are not yet appropriate for a resumption of face to face meetings, including the RTHA’s AGM and conference. Consequently, the April 2022 AGM and conference will again be via Zoom.

This event will take place on Saturday 23 April 2022. The AGM will be from 11.00-11.35. Papers have been provided to member.

The conference will follow on after a comfort break 11.45-12.40 (plus 20 mins questions) with a paper entitled: Rudolf Diesel: His life and achievements re-examined by Chair, Rod Ashley.

If you wish to attend the AGM/conference (which will be free of charge) please advise our Events Coordinator, John Ashley (, by Saturday 16 April. John will then issue a Zoom access code.

RTHA Autumn 2021 Conference

In the light of the continuing pandemic, it was decided that the Autumn conference would be a virtual event on Saturday 16 October 2021. Presentations were given:

The National Cycling Archive by RTHA member Dr Andrew Millward.

An update by RTHA Director Amy Graham on her PhD thesis, which she is currently writing up. The topic is On London’s Buses: Heritage Practices in Everyday Life. Some of Amy’s participants will be guests and will offer their own perspectives.

Recordings of the two talks will be available online soon.

RTHA AGM and Spring Conference 2021

The RTHA 2021 Annual General Meeting will take place on Saturday 17 April on Zoom. All paid-up RTHA members are welcome. Joining details will be sent by email.

The AGM will open at 1030 for a 1045 start. It is scheduled to last a maximum of 30 minutes, followed at 1130 by a separate Zoom Spring Conference open to members and non-members. We have purchased a one year Zoom licence so discussion can continue without time constraint.

The RTHA 2021 Spring Conference will take place on Saturday 17 April on Zoom. RTHA members and non-members are welcome. There is no charge for the conference. Joining details will be circulated in the Journal and by email.

The meeting will open at 1115 for an 1130 start. It is scheduled to finish at 1245, but we have purchased a Zoom licence so discussion can continue without time constraint.

Ribble Motor Services, 1919 to 2001
The North West’s Premier Bus Company
Including an insider’s snapshot from 1970

The presenter is Dr Martin Higginson, a director of the RTHA.

Based in Preston, Lancashire, Ribble Motor Services originated in the Edwardian era in characteristic fashion, when local carter James Hodgson supplemented his daytime cotton carryings by taking mill staff to and from work. This soon evolved into a regular bus service and Ribble Motor Services Ltd was founded in 1919 when Harold Hickmott took over the business, staying until his death in office in 1939. By 1930 Ribble had 550 buses, with some 1100 operated from 1939 to 1969.  From 1920 until 1968 Ribble was part of British Electric Traction (BET), then from 1969 until privatisation 1988 publicly owned through the National Bus Company (NBC). Finally, after a short-lived management buyout and over a decade with Stagecoach, in 2001 the once proud name disappeared and Ribble became Stagecoach North West.

This presentation summarising Ribble’s complex evolution is illustrated with numerous photographs and extracts from company documents.  In addition, a snapshot from the inside is presented, based on the author’s six-month ‘Cook’s Tour’ sandwich course placement with Ribble in 1970, facilitated by John Hibbs, RTHA’s founding president. The author’s student placement report showed a company unsure of its future direction and struggling to come to terms with NBC ownership; and it proved highly sensitive to anything that looked like criticism.

RTHA Autumn Conference 2020

As previously advised, current health restrictions mean that we are deferring a physical October conference. However, a free, 40 minute Zoom conference will take place on the same date, Saturday 10 October at 11.00. All paid-up members will be welcome to participate and joining instructions will be circulated in good time.

2020 Annual General Meeting

After discussion amongst the Committee and Association Directors, we have decided, reluctantly, to postpone the AGM and business meeting in Coventry on 4th April 2020. This is due to the risk of travelling during this phase of the Coronavirus outbreak. We hope to rearrange the speakers for October, to be confirmed. We will also distribute news about a rescheduled AGM shortly, as it must be held by July.

We recognise that this will disappoint several members but may also be a relief to others.

Inevitably, Wales on Wheels 2020 is cancelled.

2019 Autumn Conference

Saturday 19 October 2019 at the Coventry Motor Museum.

1030 Coffee and tea
1100 David Starkie Early motorways and the road haulage industry, was it fit for purpose?
1130 John Edser Parcels Distribution Networks in the 1980s
1220 Philip Kirk The Rule of the Road
Members Open Forum Your pet interests!
1300 Lunch
1400 All Membership and other issues
1430 Professor David Greenwood Electric vehicles – Myths, Truths, and the Way Ahead
1530 Close

2019 AGM

The 2019 AGM was held on Saturday 6 April at Coventry Transport Museum. A report will appear in the next Journal


11.00 Welcome and AGM.

12.00 Guided tour of museum. This is a wonderful opportunity to see the workings of a venue which we have used frequently but not explored. A member of staff will guide us.

13.15 Lunch

14.00 “Octopus, Otter and Other Beasts of Renown“, David Stewart-David

15.00 “Shropshire’s Stage Coaches in 1835” Peter Brown.

15.40 Members’ interests Bring along your pet project for an informal presentation and discussion.

16.00 Close


Roads Transport History Association Autumn Conference 2018

Our Autumn conference was held on Saturday 6 October, 11 – 4, at Coventry Transport Museum.

John Adams, Director of Swansea Bus Museum

The past, present and very exciting future of one of the country’s leading Bus Museums.

Sharon Brown, Curator of Land Transport & Industry, Museum of Liverpool 

Liverpool’s Carters.

Andrew Millward

Cycling Companion, and a discussion on the RTHA Companion Volume. A paper will be circulated to RTHA members and conference attendees in advance.

Rod Ashley, Chair of the RTHA

The Seven Little Sisters – Some of the UK’s little-remembered fuel brands’

Highlighting some of the smaller brands which no longer exist.

Short talks and discussions with members

Pet projects for informal presentation and discussion.


2018 AGM and Conference – Coventry Transport Museum

This year’s AGM was on Saturday 28 April in the Coventry Trasnport Museum.

11.00     AGM

Followed by:

John Edser

Beeching Bus Services.

David Holding

Case studies following up John Edser’s talk – personal experience of Carmarthen-Aberystwyth (still contentious!), and local stopping services on the ECML north of Newcastle.

Roger de Boer

A fascinating account of one of Roger’s specialities, Milk Floats.

12.30     Lunch

1.30        John Ashley

Post-prandial wake-up – Swansea Bus Museum developments, and What Ernie Sutton Did Next!

1.45        Philip Kirk

Bus Archive developments.

2.00        Peter White

Historical development of upgraded interurban bus services.

Peter White is a co-author of a report (which will be published by the time of the April meeting) on the experience of upgraded interurban bus services in Britain. In many cases these fill gaps in the rail network following ‘Beeching’ cuts, but developed many years after the rail closures, generally on commercial operator initiatives, building on service patterns originally developed in the 1920s and 1930s. ‘The report is now available at

3.15        Close

Autumn Conference, 7 October 2017 – cancelled

We struggled to get delegates for the autumn conference, and with great regret the decision was been taken to cancel. The speakers and many delegates were to travel a long way and we feel they deserve a more substantial audience. Our next meeting is the AGM and conference in April. Apologies to everyone who signed up for the disappointment and inconvenience.


AGM 2017

R&RTHA  Annual General and  Spring meeting was held on Saturday 25th March at the Ramada Hotel in Coventry. The full and interesting agenda included the proposal to change the working name of the Association to The Road Transport History Association, the retirement of Robert McCloy as chairman and director, and election of Rod Ashley as his successor. A full report appeared in the Journal.

The AGM was followed by some spirited ad hoc talks on pet projects by members. The keynote speaker after lunch was Ian Read, a retired transport professional who  gave an illustrated talk on Early Motor Bus Services through the Hertfordshire village of Bushey. Before this John Ashley gave a short talk on From Spanners to Joysticks – Swansea’s Aviation pioneers.

Autumn Conference, 29 October 2016

The Autumn 2016 Conference was again held at the Coventry Transport Museum. Saturday 29 October. A full report will appear in the Journal. Committee member Amy Graham has written an entry on the Association, with a report on the 2016 Autumn Conference, in her excellent blog –

The principal speaker was be Roger Torode, a career transport professional with London Transport through to Transport for London and author of the acclaimed recent work Privatising London’s Buses.

Rod Ashley’s topic was A Nostalgic View of the Future. “In this I aim to cover our possibly romanticised views of past motoring, the current need for change and then progress to the opportunities and threats posed by significant changes in technology, to roads and motoring infrastructure.” Rod’s talk addressed: (opportunities) new vehicle technologies, new fuel sources, reducing environmental impact; (threats) unformulated motoring legislation, de-skilling of drivers, impact on employment, and limited road infrastructure to maximise the perceived benefits.

Martin Higginson spoke on Heritage Branding, a paper recently delivered to a York University workshop.

The day concluded with Richard Wallace on East Kent Centenary and Vehicles in Preservation based on his book about the East Kent centenary. Richard is a railways professional and bus history author making a welcome first visit to the R&RTHA.

2016 AGM

The 2016 AGM took place on Saturday 19 March at Coventry Transport Museum at 11.00. The theme for talks was The Social History of Roads. Speakers included:

Reg Davies PhD Public Passenger Transport in Inter-War Britain: the Southern Railway’s Response to Bus Competition, 1923-39.

Amy Graham Bus Travel and the Heritage of Everyday Life.

David Holding Wage Negotiations and Staff Shortages in the Bus Industry.

October Conference 2015

The Autumn 2015 Conference was again held at the Coventry Transport Museum. Saturday 24 October, 11am to 4pm.

‘A Very British Map : The Ordnance Survey Story’, part of the Timeshift series, was shown on BBC4 at 9pm on Wednesday 9 September.

The programme included significant contributions by Dr Richard Oliver, who will speak at the R&RTHA Autumn Conference.

The programme is available on BBC iPlayer for one month at

The main theme of the conference was Maps in Transport. Speakers confirmed so far are:

Dr Richard Oliver, The Charles Close Society for the Study of Ordnance Survey Maps. Maps in Transport. Dr Oliver has recently published a splendid history of the Ordnance Survey in the 19th century. He knows more than anyone else about the exact interpretation that can be placed on the depiction by the Ordnance Survey of a feature (in this case a road) in a particular way at a particular date. [See the post on the right for a TV programme featuring the Charles Close Society.]

Ian Smith, Industrial Curator at the National Waterfront Museum, Swansea. Oil, Llandarcy and Weapons of Mass Destruction. A look at Britain’s involvement in oil exploration in Persia; the creation of Llandarcy oil refinery; the manipulation of Middle East politics; the value and downsides of crude oil; the current rise of ISIS and what the future holds. Ian’s support has been instrumental in the success of three years of the R&RTHA’s Wales on Wheels.

Margaret McCloy, Mapping My Way Through Life: Maps and Me.

John Ashley, R&RTHA Events Organiser, Local and Family History Lecturer, The Many, Various and Often Unsuspected Sources of Maps.

Wales on Wheels 2015

Wales on Wheels 2015 on Saturday 16 May was blessed with great weather for the third year running. It took place in and around the National Waterfront Museum and Dylan Thomas Square in Swansea Marina. The event is a joint effort by the Roads & Road Transport History Association, National Waterfront Museum, Swansea Museum, and Swansea Bus Museum. Participation and entry is free.

Wales on Wheels 2014

Wales on Wheels 2014

Participants included:

Swansea Bus Museum
Ryland Classics
Swansea Museum truck and bus
Classic Vehicle Enthusiasts Group
Yeoman Living History
Swansea Motorcycle Club
Skewen and Pontarddulais Classic Car Clubs
Swansea Fire Service
Pink Cadillac
University of Wales Trinity St David’s School of Applied Design (with modern racing cars)
Tools for Self Reliance
Wallace and Gromit van and motorcycle with sidecar
Mametz Woods Classic Car Run 2016
Sinclair C5 with pedals for kids
Penydarren Steam Locomotive accompanied by Mr Trevithick himself –
Gilbern Club
Swansea Railway Modellers Group
Mouse Shell Mileage Marathon record holding car (see it on Top Gear –

Photos of the 2013 event are at

2015 AGM

The 2015 AGM was held in the Bettmann Room at Coventry Transport Museum on Saturday 28 March.

The AGM was followed by the Spring Conference, a series of talks on the general theme ‘Transport and the City Region, in History and in Prospect’.

Professor Mike Phillips, Pro Vice Chancellor, University of Wales, Trinity Saint David, ‘The Vision of an Institution’.

Dr Robert McCloy, ‘Have been here before? An historical perspective with particular reference to the reforms of the 1960s’.

Philip Kirk spoke on ‘Developments at the Kithead Transport Archives’.





Autumn 2014 Conference, Coventry

The Autumn 2014 Conference was held at the Herbert Art Gallery and Museum, on Saturday 4 October, 11 – 4.

The keynote speaker was John Minnis, Senior Investigator at English Heritage. John’s talk was based around his books Carscapes: The Motor Car, Architecture, and Landscape in England (co-author Kathryn A. Morrison) and England’s Motoring Heritage from the Air (published 28 December 2013 – order a copy for Christmas!).

The second was Louise Allen, author of the newly published Stagecoach Travel (Shire). “… the experience of travelling by stage and mail coach from the passengers’ point of view – from booking your ticket, boarding the stage, your fellow passengers, how comfortable (or not!) it was, the inns and the experience of eating there, and perils and accidents.”

There was a full programme of short talks in the morning:

Roger de Boer How I got interested in buses.
Malcolm Dungworth How did I get there? – a career in transport.
Megan Doole Urban horse-transport buildings.
Tony Newman Census returns and people employed in the 19thC Bus Industry.



Brooklands, Summer 2014 Conference

The programme for Saturday 2 August was:


Reverend Simon Douglas-Lane very kindly offered a trip to Guildford Cathedral in his RT3491 ‘Ivadne’:

  • 10.00am depart from Brooklands Hotel for Guildford Cathedral, arrive 10.30am. Coffee.
  • 11.00 to 12.30pm approximately: conducted tour of the cathedral (£4 charge).
  • Lunch in refectory (self payment!).
  • 2.00pm return to Brooklands, arrive 2.30pm.

The Brooklands Museum map is below –

Brooklands Museum Location Map

Brooklands Museum Location Map

Park in the Brooklands visitor car park at Mercedes-Benz World, Entrance 1, KT13 0SL. Meet the bus in the Coach Park at 10am. Simon will pick up any strays from the Brooklands Hotel.

Staff will be on hand in the Museum shop at 2pm to issue two-day admission tickets. If you are not going to Guildford please be at the shop at 2pm so you get the deal.


Education Centre room Education 4 (upstairs).

15.00     Ian Yearsley, Road Transport in Britain: 1914-1924.

16.00     Paul Lacey, The Newbury & District Motor Services Story – developments from 1900 to the formation
of N&D in 1932.

The Museum has offered a ticket for members attending on Saturday to return on Sunday for the Great War event using the same ticket, at the normal admission charge of £11 (£10 for seniors).

The theme of the conference is Transport in the Shadow of the First World War. On Saturday morning we have a trip to Guildford cathedral courtesy of the London Bus Museum. In the afternoon there are two talks in the Education Centre. Brooklands Museum have kindly agreed to give ‘two for one’ free entry for R&RTHA members attending on Saturday, for the World War 1 event on Sunday. Link to the programme and booking form.

Download the booking form RRTHA Brooklands 2014, or email John Ashley to reserve a space.

Sunday 3rd August

Brooklands World War 1 event:

‘… a special event encompassing the many aspects of Brooklands’ involvement in the Great War of 1914 – 1918.

‘For this special event we will be gathering automobiles, motorcycles, bicycles, commercial vehicles, buses and aircraft from the period up to 1919.

‘In the paddock there will be a display of the vehicles taking part in the Great War Centenary Parade in London on the 4th August. At lunchtime these pre-war vehicles will be taking part in a Cavalcade round the Mercedes-Benz World circuit.

‘Overhead will be a stunning air show from the Great War Display Team who will be flying their replicas of a Sopwith Triplane, a BE2 and an SE5.

‘On the ground our own aircraft will be making a grand entrance too and, as well as running the Sopwith Camel, we hope to bring the Vimy to life, for the first time since it flew in in 2009.

‘A new book, W O Bentley Rotary Aero Engines by Dr Tom Dine, published by the W O Bentley Memorial Foundation and which is to be launched on the 4th August, will be on sale in the Paddock.

‘In the Clubhouse there will be period film shows and London Bus Museum will be putting on a display of buses from the era.’


Wales on Wheels 2014

After the success of the first Wales on Wheels last year, Wales on Wheels 2014 took place on Saturday 17 May. The venue as before will be the National Waterfront Museum and its environs, and Dylan Thomas Square (courtesy of Swansea Museum). Access will be available for all vehicles, and there is space indoors for stands and other exhibits.

Download the Wales on Wheels 2014 booking form.

Swansea Museum Collections Centre

There will be buses, lorries, fire engines, cars (including the pink Cadillac!), motor bikes, C5 for the kids, rocket cars for all-round fun, and an eclectic collection of other vehicles. There is a military and World War 1 thread in addition to the many other vehicles which will be present. We have booked a horse-drawn WW1 ambulance, with re-enactors – bring carrots and turnips.

Return Ticket – the Story of South Wales Transport Bryngold Books will launch an important new book celebrating the centenary of South Wales Transport.

‘The forthcoming best ever book on one of Wales’ most iconic bus companies will be launched as part of Wales on Wheels at the National Waterfront Museum, Swansea on Saturday May 17 at 2pm.’

Roy Noble will launch Return Ticket – The story of South Wales Transport. Professor Garel Rhys will also speak – it augurs for a great launch!

Return Ticket – the Story of South Wales Transport is a lavishly illustrated, 192 page full colour book detailing the amazing troubles and triumphs of a company that began shortly before the outbreak of the First World War carrying a handful of passengers and rose to a point where, at its height, it was responsible for a staggering 92 million passenger journeys a year.

‘There was a time during the late 1940s and 1950s, before mass car ownership when, if you wanted to go anywhere in or around Swansea then you went by bus.

‘At work, rest or play journeys were accomplished on ‘The Transport’  as the South Wales company was affectionately known by many of those who either worked for it or who regularly travelled on it.

Return Ticket is written by former Evening Post journalist and bus enthusiast Jonathan Isaacs and designed, produced and published by David Roberts’ Bryngold Books.

‘David said: “In terms of recording the history of Swansea this book is vitally important. Through its pages it details the way in which a determined and adventurous company pioneered the way people travelled. The company expanded people’s horizons and at its height was the first and only Welsh bus company to hold Continental coaching licences.”

‘This is a book not just for bus enthusiasts. Both its text and pictures tell a fascinating story of the people, places and events that were an everyday part of South Wales Transport.

‘Alongside the historical timeline of the company there are countless personal memories, anecdotes and tales from both passengers and staff. The photographs too, drawn from far and wide and many previously unpublished  contribute hugely to the fascinating tale.

‘Many of the photographs contain nostalgic scenes of Swansea past, which are sure to bring memories flooding back for many.

‘Swansea Bus Museum is keeping the legend alive with its collection of former SWT vehicles, some of which will be at the launch event to jerk the memory further.

‘Far from being a book about buses, this is a superb volume  about a company which played a huge part in 85 years of the history of South Wales. Had it survived beyond 1999 then the month of the launch would have marked the centenary of its first revenue earning services.

‘The publishers have extended a welcome to everyone who either remembers the glory days of South Wales Transport or wants to be among the first to own a book that is sure to be greatly in demand, to come along to the launch.’

A review of Return Ticket – the Story of South Wales Transport, by our chairman Dr Robert McCloy, will appear in a forthcoming Journal.

Swansea Bus Museum

Swansea Bus Museum

Many members will want to stay an extra day for the South Wales Transport Centenary Show at Swansea Bus Museum on Sunday 18th May. This special event, organised jointly with First Cymru, will be held at the Bus Museum to commemorate 100 years since SWT services commenced in May 1914.

First will be exhibiting modern buses, including 4 painted in special liveries of SWT, United Welsh, Thomas Bros (Port Talbot) and N&C. There will be a display of vintage and modern vehicles as well as a family fun day. See the website for further details. We will arrange transport to the Bus Museum for any R&RTHA members arriving in Swansea by train or coach.

There will be a reception for R&RTHA members in the National Waterfront Museum on Friday evening, followed by dinner at the Marriott (five minutes’ walk away). The after-dinner speaker is Professor Stuart Cole CBE.


AGM 2014

The 2014 AGM was held in Coventry in Learning Space 2 of the Herbert Art Gallery and Museum, Jordan Well, Coventry, CV1 5QP.

Click for Herbert Gallery and Museum Directions & Parking.

Download the RRTHA Report and Accounts 2013.

The AGM was followed by the 2014 Spring Conference.

The Conference included a series of talks with the general theme ‘Vehicle Design Past & Present’.  The programme included John Dickson-Simpson and Roy Larkin on developments (and non-developments) in vehicle design over the years.

We were then very pleased to welcome David Burnicle, former Director of Engineering at Leyland Bus Ltd. David was later Director of Engineering of automotive consultancy company Tickford Ltd (formerly Aston Martin-Tickford) in Milton Keynes where he specialised in the adoption and use of Alternative Fuels for road vehicles. David’s subject was Where is Road Transport Going?


Coventry Dinner and Conference, 18/19 October 2013

This year’s autumn event was again held in Coventry, with the conference returning to the Coventry Transport Museum.

The three course conference dinner at the Ramada Hotel on Friday 18 October was treated to the after dinner speaker Peter Read, who gave light-hearted readings from Dickens and Dylan Thomas on the theme of transport. Peter is a talented actor and writer, well known for his one-man shows.

The conference at the Transport Museum on Saturday 19 October started at 11.00 and end at 16.00. Speakers were:

  • Ian Yearsley, Edwardian Transport: from horse to motor transport.
  • Keith Roberts, Edwardian Electric Vehicles.
  • John Ashley, Edwardian Logistics par excellence – Buffalo Bill’s Wild West.
  • Bob McCloy, All modes of transport in Doodle-bug Alley: a wartime reminiscence.

A report will appear in Journal 73.

All enquiries to John Ashley,, 0770 9900 788.

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