Alnwick Probus Club, May meeting

John Wylde, transport historian, author and regular columnist in the Northumberland Gazette, gave a talk to the May meeting of Alnwick Probus Club on the development of public transport over the past 100 years with emphasis on the integration of road, rail and air routes, or more to the point, the perverse lack of such co-operation amongst operators in the UK.

John has had a lifetime interest in public transport and for a while just after the Second World War, was involved in running a bus company in the home counties.

His talk, however, looked back to a much earlier age, when in the 18th century horse-drawn barges were developed for the emerging canal system, while at the same time horse drawn railways evolved in the North East using timber rails, and horse-drawn omnibuses emerged on surfaced roads in urban areas.

This background was used as an introduction to John’s talk which went on to concentrate on the development of public transport in the 20th century.

John traced the many revisions which took place mainly in the frequently changing ownership of the railway system, their competition with bus rivals and even the pioneering moves of railway companies to be involved with air transport.

Much of the talk catalogued missed opportunities for sensible co-operation and integration of timetables which would have benefited the customer, instead of which a determination of competition prevailed resulting in duplication of services and the inevitable congestion in our city centres.

This wide-ranging, interesting talk revealed many surprising, almost forgotten details of public transport and culminated in a lively question-and-answer session, always a sign of a captivated audience.

Anyone interested in joining Alnwick Probus Club should contact Bill Bland on 01669 620572 or at bland.thropton@tiscali.co.uk