A Life in a Year – 9th December, The Routemaster Bus and Robertson’s Jam

 

Both my nan and granddad used to go work which was quite unusual in the 1960s.  He was a bus conductor on the old London double-decker Routemaster buses operating from the Catford depot on Bromley Road in South London.  I can remember him in his dark blue London Transport uniform with his red conductors badge and his leather satchel slung over one shoulder and his shiny metal Gibson ticket machine over the other walking home from work in a jaunty sort of way all along Barmerston Road.  In the summer months he had a lightweight grey jacket and a white cap which I always thought made him look more like an ice cream man than a bus conductor!

For those interested in the technical details, the Gibson ticket machine was introduced in 1953 and named after George Gibson a former superintendent of the London Tranport ticket machine works. Different denomination tickets could be printed onto a plain paper roll by adjusting the wheels on the side of the machine and then winding the handle on the left-hand side to issue it.  A meter recorded the number and type of tickets issued.

Photograph courtesy of John King

The Catford Garage was opened in 1914 and was one of the largest South London garages.  It was always associated with the Routemaster and in fact was the last garage in South East London to operate them.  The Routemaster was a double-decker bus that was built by Associated Equipment Company from 1954 and introduced by London Transport in 1956 and saw continuous service until 2005 when it was officially withdrawn on 9th December.

Nan worked at the Robertson’s jam factory which was on Barmerston Road itself.  They used to make Golden Shred marmalade and a range of jams and had what came to be regarded as an inappropriate golly as the company symbol.  We used to have golly badges and they are collector’s items now but I haven’t got them anymore and that’s real shame.  In 2006 Robinson’s sold out to Premier Foods and in 2008 the new company announced that it would discontinue the Robertson brand in 2009 in order to focus on its more successful Hartley’s.  By a strange, even spooky, coincidence the brand was discontinued on 9th December!

Robinson’s factory has gone now but the bus garage is still there.

Photograph  © Copyright David Wright and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

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