Coach Travel Documentary back on BBC iPlayer

by Al Macmillan

First shown in 2012, the BBC have been re-showing their Timeshift documentary about the history of coach travel in the UK. Beginning with its roots in stagecoaches and charabancs it charts the explosive rise in popularity of UK coach back to the 1950s, when the coach was king. The reminiscences are great including the fact that back in the fifties on a coach:

  • Nobody was in a hurry, in fact the longer you spent on a Coach the better! One man, starting as a boy took the same 17hr journey every summer holiday for 25 years and was so excited he could never sleep the night before
  • The inevitable sing-songs
  • Long (scheduled) coach trips would often stop for a full three course lunch & afternoon tea
  • One driver who played a kind of wheel of fortune with the passengers by drawing numbers on the front tyre with chalk
  • No air conditioning - coach travellers remembering other passengers with handkerchief's on their heads squeeze out the sweat from their makeshift hats
  • The ignominy for women especially of going to the bathroom aka ducking in to the bushes by the side of the road!

"From its early origins in the charabanc, the coach had always been the people's form of transport. Cheaper and more flexible than the train, it allowed those who had travelled little further than their own villages and towns a first heady taste of exploration and freedom. It was a safe capsule on wheels from which to venture out into a wider world.

The distinctive livery of the different coach companies was part of a now lost world, when whole communities crammed into coach after coach en route to pleasure spots like Blackpool, Margate and Torquay. With singsongs, toilet stops and the obligatory pub halt, it didn't matter how long it took to get there because the journey was all part of the adventure."

Watch the full film at BBC iPlayer until the 20th May 2014 or at the Coachfairer YouTube channel

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