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(AB) Bert Cox and the Maires put money up to help the two carriers Thomas's and Tidball's start the Witheridge Transport Co. Bert Knight and Charles Bennett converted the first cattle lorry.

(AK) Witheridge Transport Company: Albert Knight and Arthur Bryant built the first bus body for the company. In the 1920s (AK) often got up at six to drive and did repairs and maintenance at night if necessary. (FK) remembers going on outings from Tiverton in the Company's buses, which were hired over a wide area. Accidents were few, once Bill Thomas was going to Exeter in an old Ford with a passenger, when, near the turn to Silverton, a rear wheel came off and passed them at speed. In the Twenties, Arthur Bryant used to deliver eggs, rabbits and butter (from the Witheridge Butter Factory) to Sainsbury's in Exeter.

(EW) Transport: The two carriers merged in 1920 "to prevent the railway coming from Tiverton." When Great Western first came, all the passengers used to have to get out and push up Long Drag on leaving Tiverton.

(MT) states that (WT) never killed anything in the course of his driving career, but on one occasion the bus was so jolted on a rough road that a baby on its mothers lap was thrown clean through the window. The baby came to no harm but the driver stopped the bus so sharply that he was thrown onto the steering wheel and had to be taken to hospital.

(WT ) used to drive to Lapford Station with butter and eggs and take them by train to Exeter.

(MT ) and (WT) woke up in one morning to hear voices in the street; "who's that chattering?" "Tis the outing and we've overslept." (WT) just out of bed, calls out "nearly ready", but still had to feed and harness up the horses.

In the twenties there were rival firms in Molton and Tiverton (where a firm called Croscols had just started), but "they didn't come to Witheridge; they didn't dare."

In the early buses carbide lights were provided, these "were all right so long as the water didn't get in." If it did, the lights used to go out and "someone stood on the running board and struck matches if they wanted to see where they were."

In chapel when "Oh what transport of delight" was played (WT) used to nudge (MT) in the ribs.

Other Information From (MT): Bus bodies were originally built by a firm in Salisbury, and later in Tiverton. At one time, there were "a Rec, a small Dennis, a big Leyland, a big Dennis, and two Ford cars." "Old Greenslade who ran the butter Factory was known as "Bill Butterdabs" and was very short. "If you saw a car coming with nobody driving, it was Bill Butterdabs." After the take over by Greenslades, most went to work there except (WT) who gave up "the big ones" (he had been gassed in the war) and one other who went off and started a firm in Chagford and then in Torquay. There was much heart searching by the two families before agreeing to Greenslade's terms.

Thomas's and Tidballs: There was friendly rivalry and "each had to look after himself."

Vehicles: Before the Great War the horse drawn vehicles belonging to Thomas's business were a Victoria, a Brougham, a Brake (with seats along each side and across the front) and two Traps. As well as the buses (mentioned in the notes of 12/5/77), there was a Reo, and always two smaller cars - Fords Model T. In one of these Mrs Thomas was driven to her wedding in 1923. When driving the Victoria or the Brougham bowler hats were worn. When buses came in the drivers wore peaked caps with detachable (and washable) white covers. Mr Thomas did not like these and preferred his cloth cap.

(OV) remembers the first buses running to Exeter where they pulled up at the Crown and Sceptre in North Street. There was great rivalry between Thomas's and Tidball's, if you went on one then the other would say "How come you're not coming on mine then?" Before the buses, the carrier's vans had benches down each side and rounded "covered wagon" hoods for shelter.

She remembers going in Tidball's horse brake in 1916 to Kings Nympton to be confirmed.

In the early 1900's when Tidball's drove a carriage and pair for a wedding, the horses ears had little caps with silver grey tassels. (WV)  when first married had a motorbike and sidecar ("a silver bullet.") and (OV) remembers the leather jacket and helmets. They had their first car in 1935, a Morris Tourer with dickey seat.

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Last Edited 03/07/2006    Copyright © 2000-2006 Witheridge

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