It must have been a bus spotter's dream. Damage to the transport system had been severe; the tramway never ran again after the blitz, and many buses had been destroyed. To maintain the wheels of industry buses were transferred into the City from many other areas, providing a kaleidoscope of shapes and colours. The names of donating cities could be read along the sides of each vehicle: Derby, Nottingham, Leicester, and many others.
Buses were manufactured in the City, and a regular sight was that of a new bus being driven to delivery, consisting only of base chassis, engine, and the driver swathed in weather protective clothing. Strangely, all donated buses were early examples of public transport. My personal favourites were the open-top models, their stairways spiralling upwards at the back. Was this the origin of the rule for smoking to be only allowed upstairs?
Effectively, passengers were categorised. Mothers with bags, elderly folk, and small children all sat downstairs. Smokers, small boys, and other social misfits all sat upstairs. It was a mark of initiation into puberty to be allowed on top by the conductress.
The conductress, now sadly extinct, was a key figure. Hair tucked into headscarf, bright red lipstick; truly the captain of her ship. No larking about; pushchairs only allowed under the stairs; and helping the elderly on and off the bus. If you were old enough to smoke you paid full fare. Usually found clutching the platform bar like a genteel pole dancer. An expert on route details, oracle of all the latest gossip, and apparently knowing each regular passenger intimately.
In the engine room at the front, tucked away and isolated in his little cubicle was the driver. Any significant problem with a passenger and it was reported via the little sliding window. The bus pulls to a halt. The driver alights and walks slowly and purposefully back to the platform ...