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Last updated: 12 June 2019

  Archive/Photograph of the Month  

For this month’s feature, I have selected a commercial postcard image (ref PS05070-053) of one of Provincial’s earliest motor buses in Gosport.  Taken in Lee-on-the-Solent, it shows Commer double-decker CH 537 at the terminus of the route from Bury Cross.  The facia of the building behind the bus is recognisable as it remains intact to this day on the corner of Pier Street and Marine Parade East.

As its registration suggests, CH 537 originated in Derbyshire and operated for Commercial Car Hirers Limited (CCHL) in the Alfreton area.  First registered in July 1911, the bus was a Commer 32hp and, by the time it operated in Gosport, it had acquired double-deck O18/16RO bodywork.  CH 537 was almost certainly on loan from CCHL when it operated in Gosport.

As the destination-board on the side of the bus shows, Bury Cross was an established tram terminus, so the motor buses provided a link for tram passengers to reach the seaside resort of Lee-on-the-Solent.  The service commenced on 5th July 1912 with buses every 20 minutes and the route appears to have been altered fairly swiftly as, by 1913, the buses were operating between Lee and Brockhurst instead of Bury Cross.  Operating in parallel with CH 537 on the Bury Cross route was fellow Commer LN 9904 and it is known that Darracq BO 461 was also used on the Brockhurst route.

The postcard was published by Chapman & Son of Dawlish in Devon and, as can be seen in our image, their postcards carried distinctive reference numbers.  As there was no other dating evidence for the card, I was keen to find out whether the number (12522) might be traceable.  An appeal to postcard collectors elicited a single response from a Chapman specialist who was able to narrow down the date of our image to 1912 or 1913, which fits neatly with what we know about the Bury Cross service.

The early services to Lee appear to have survived for a year or two and it is tempting to think that they were interrupted by the First World War.  Thanks to research by Stewart Brett, we know that, after the war, CH 537 went to Albert Beer in Southampton where it was used as a 3-ton lorry before passing to S & L Bull Bros of Winchester.  It was last licensed in December 1927.

If any members or non-members have similar images that they would like to donate to the Society or allow to be photographed or scanned, I should be grateful if you would contact me – Chris Richardsen – using e-mail address ProvSocArchive@gmail.com.

  First Hampshire & Dorset vehicle movement and news  


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Now operating from Hoeford, on Solent Ranger services, (from 19/12) is SK68 TXO an all-white liveried StreetLite Max, one of 3 loaned by Wrightbus to First (the other 2 are with South Yorkshire).

Thought to be numbered 63391 (to be confirmed) the reason for & duration of the loan are unknown

(Mays Lane, Stubbington)

Photo by Malcolm Audsley 21 Dec 18


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