Reginald Jenkinson

Bus Proprietor

by the late Amy J. Hodnett. (daughter of Reginald Jenkinson)

Reproduced below is the original article written about Reginald Jenkinson by his daughter - the late Amy J Hodnett

It appears courtesy of the Buckley Society and Brian Hodnett - son of Amy Hodnett and grandson of Reginald Jenkinson


by the late Amy J. Hodnett.

My father, Reginald Jenkinson, was born in Liverpool in 1883, the son of Rev. George Jenkinson, a Methodist Minister. The family moved to Buckley when my father was very young, my grandfather having been appointed to Tabernacle Chapel. Reginald was one of six children.

The Tabernacle was a very spacious building with a roomy gallery. It also had a large congregation. Two devout members of the chapel were Mr.& Mrs. Thomas Jones of Brunswick Road who were fond of entertaining ministers and their wives. My grandparents and their children became regular visitors. Father enjoyed seeing the horses they had and riding in the traps. He also played with the dogs and cats, for Mr. Jones not only had a farm, but also, a cab, bus and lorry service. They were all pulled by horses for we are talking about the late 1880s. My father spent most of his spare time with the Jones’s and they encouraged him to do so, for they had no children of their own and so became very attached to him. When my grandmother became very ill father slept at the Jones’s house.

There he had his own bedroom. Even after grandmother had recovered from her illness father stayed with them. Mr. & Mrs. Jones also had a shop which had everything in it, from meat to bread (they baked in their own bakery), and from tea to sweets.

When my grandfather resigned from the Buckley Circuit in order to take up his new appointment in Chatham, Kent, Mr. & Mrs. Jones persuaded my father to stay with them. The story, as related, tells of when the family called for him to accompany them to the station he stood in the bedroom window and said that he would jump if anyone came upstairs and forced him to take the train to Chatham. Defeated in the attempt to persuade him to go with them they departed without him.

Mr. & Mrs. Jones wished to adopt father but his parents would not agree to this. Nevertheless, he now lived with them and, as he grew older, occasionally visited his parents, but not for long. The Jones’s soon regarded father as their own son and called him Reginald ’Jones’.

My father went to Hawarden Grammar School where he did very well, especially in mathematics. He gained first prize in that subject but soon left school to help with the business. This he later regretted, for had he stayed with his own family they would have encouraged him to continue with his studies.

Now his working life began in reality. On Wednesdays and Saturdays he drove the horse—buses to and from Mold all day long, with the horses having to be fed, watered and groomed as well On other days lorries were used to cart goods from Buckley and Chester stations. People hired the carts to take them from one place to another. The cabs were also hired for weddings and funerals. Father also spoke of the times he had to take ladies, with their escorts, to balls held in various halls in the district. He sometimes conveyed commercial travellers through the Welsh landscape, visiting remote shops deep in the countryside staying at inns each evening and carrying on with the journey next day, often having to dig themselves out of snow and mud.

After working very hard for fifteen years for Mr. Jones and saving as much money as he was able, father and mother decided to marry. Mr.& Mrs. Jones were very disappointed at his choice of a bride because Miss Clara Jones was an Anglican. Her parents were devoted members of Bistre Church where her brother was church organist for many years. My mother was a teacher, having taught for years at church schools. Her own education had begun at Bistre Church School and later she attended a Private School for young ladies at Hawkesbury. There she was trained to become a teacher as well as receiving tuition on the piano. The Queen’s Scholarship that she sat had been renamed ‘King’s’ by the time the result was known. This had been brought about by the death of Queen Victoria in January 1901. Passing the examination qualified her as a teacher.

My father took his bride-to-be to Portsmouth to meet his parents and family. To his relief they were very pleased to welcome her into the family. On the other hand, to say that the Jones’s were not impressed would be an understatement. They showed their disapproval even more when no concessions were made to my father when he bought from them the land on which to build his house; and when he bought Mr. Jones’s business. More drastically, he was cut out of the will they had made making him heir to their property. After the house was built my mother and father were married at Bistre Church, in October 1910.

After Berwyn Garage was built, and the outbuildings finished, father took over Mr. Thomas Jones’s business. Very soon the horse—buses were being changed for motor buses and taxi cabs. The Ford T-buses were ‘convertibles’ and could therefore be changed into lorries. The buses themselves had roll-back tops and side windows which could be taken on or off when necessary. At this time very few people could drive so once he had mastered the art itself he was able to train and teach others to drive his taxis and buses. He also found it necessary to study the mechanics of the buses so that he could fix them if anything went wrong. He now carried on with both bus and taxi services, running all day on market days and Saturdays, also meeting trains at various stations. In addition, he started to run on other routes: to Flint, down to Deeside and to the City of Chester. Workmen were also taken to their places of work.

The outbreak of World War I saw him transporting personnel to the Munition Works at Queens ferry where he also worked as a fitter. In an emergency he was required to take his bus or taxi to wherever he was ordered. These, together with other commitments made his a ‘reserved occupation’ and was thus never called up.

My brother Tom’s recollections (he was born in 1913) are of the five Ford T-buses. Four were fourteen-seaters and one an eight-seater. There were two bus types, two charabanc types and one utility model. Tom remembers conducting on the utility model when he was eight years old. The local cobbler had made him a small leather bag with which to carry fares. he further recalls that there were no standing limits on the bus, so when the vehicle was very full he had to stand on a nine-inch step and hang on to the door and collect the money from this back door. This happened during busy periods.

To stop the bus a whistle was blown once, and to start, it was blown twice. The seats were long ones facing each other and could be taken out so that the bus could also be used as a van. They could also be utilised as lorries. By unscrewing six bolts the tops could be taken off and a lorry’s body fitted on. One such lorry was used regularly to take local greengrocers to Liverpool, usually on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

The colours of the buses varied. One was green the other grey; the charas maroon and green respectively. The utility model was green as well.

At first, the lighting system was a candle lamp for evenings and early morning collecting. Later, a sidelamp bulb held in a socket fed from a six—volt battery was used. The battery was put by the side of the driver. These gave little light and dishonest passengers cheated in various ways.

Tickets were issued and flippers used to punch them. After each bus trip the conductor ran to Berwyn Garage for the content of his bag to be counted and change given. That was one of my jobs.

The first of the charas had solid tyres, and as the roads were rough, it made an uncomfortable ride. It had a door for each row of seats. To conduct one had to move along the outside step and collect from each row separately. It had a hood with celluloid sides. Winds drove from every direction, and a strong wind could cause the hood to fly back like a parachute. We children enjoyed these happenings but unfortunately, not the adults! The other charabanc had pneumatic tyres and from back to front there were tip-up seats, so the conductor could move from back to front in order to collect the fares.

After World War I had ended my father continued with the bus, taxi and lorry services; planning and organizing new routes and running buses according to requirements. The Crosville Bus Company were operating buses in the area and a keen competition developed between them and the local bus operators.

Later in the 1920s the new Dennis Fleet of buses were introduced. The Jenkinson’s were proud of the fact that the first of these came to them direct from the Motor Show in Olympia. It was the first fabric-finish made, and for its day, a lovely low-loading bus that attracted a lot of attention. It cost approximately £1,000, a great deal of money in those days when a typical house cost about £350. Two more Dennises were bought.

List of Routes

*Buses ran every day at regular intervals from different part of Buckley through ‘Buckley Cross’ to Mold.

On Wednesdays and Saturdays they ran all day half hourly.

* On Market days service ran at suitable times from Buckley, Boar’s Head, New Brighton, to Mold and return.

*From 1924 an early morning bus ran Buckley children down to the Alun Grammar School, and back again in the evening.

*A circular route went from ‘Buckley Cross’ through Wood Lane (Hawarden), to Queensferry and Connah’s Quay. Buses ran morning, afternoon and evening, the occasional one carrying on to Flint. This was a well-established bus route too.

*Another route went by way of Drury, Hawarden, Ewloe, Queensferry and Shotton.

*Taking visitors to Chester Infirmary, waiting until visiting time was over, and bringing them back.

*Meeting the trains; usually at Buckley Junction Station - sometimes with taxis or buses - but on Saturday night a bus always met the last train. Buses also met the people who went to dances at the Tivoli, the Parish Room, and the Albert Hall, and returning them later to their points of departure.

*During the Summer months each Tuesday and Thursday a charabanc would be

involved in running people to the seaside.

Buckley at this time was quite a holiday resort. Each week many holiday makers would come to the town to stay in boarding houses or people’s homes as boarders. My father called at these residences in order to persuade the visitors to take trips on his buses; either to Rhyl, Llangollen, Nany-y--Garth Pass and Ruthin or Llandudno. Every Tuesday and Thursday mornings during the holiday season buses ran to Rhyl and other destinations when a load could be arranged.

The Jenkinson’s employed at least four drivers and conductors. Father usually stayed at home in order to service the vehicles, engaging a local mechanic to help if a major crisis arose. There were even more dramatic moments. One I can recall quite clearly. During the General Strike of 1926 the Crosville employees were all out on strike, but my father’s men would not take industrial action. The Crosville men gathered on the bridge crossing the Alun, ready to throw my father’s bus into the river, together with the driver, conductor and passengers. Pat Sheen, a young driver who was due to take the bus out to Mold, was keen to face the crowd but father said that it was his responsibility. Pat pointed out that, unlike his boss who had a wife and family to keep, he had no commitments. After more debate it was decided that father would drive and Pat conduct. When they reached the bottom of the Wylfa they saw a huge crowd standing on the bridge at Rhyd Alun. Father quickly turned to the left and went another way to Mold!

At around this time my father had to have his business inspected by the Commissioners. When he met them he took with him old and well-worn timetables (which always hung in buses), and tickets, etc. His buses had already been inspected and all passed as roadworthy. The result was that he was allowed to continue operating his bus company.

His last and smartest purchase was a Dennis. It had a permanent top and sides while the outside bodywork was covered with a fabric material. In fact, it was the very latest in buses and greatly admired by everyone.

As a family we all did our share of helping with the business. Two of my three brothers, when they started at the Grammar School, also conducted on the buses on Saturdays. They would be working until late at night, which often meant until after the last dance. My mother and I would be kept busy looking after the two young children, answering the phone, answering the door, collecting and counting the conductors’ money after each trip, and serving petrol. Although we went to bed extremely tired we all had to get up for morning services in chapel; at 9.30am., then Morning Chapel at 10.30.arn., followed by Sunday School and Evening Chapel.

My eldest brother, the Rev. Tom Jenkinson, left the Alun Grammar School to train as a mechanic, and later as a bus driver, before studying hard to become a Methodist Minister.

Philip*, my second eldest brother, decided to leave Grammar School once he had sat his ‘0’ Level Examinations as he did not wish to enter any profession. The thought of working for the family firm lost its appeal as he hated oil, grease, and the general messiness of the job. He became a draper at The Cross.

Father became increasingly worried about his business. He was in competition with Crosville but did not possess the resources they had to compete successfully. Many of the district’s other bus and taxi operators had come and gone. By 1934 father had little alternative but to sell his business to the Crosville Bus Co., not, however, before being reassured that they would employ all of his drivers and conductors. They were as good as their word.

My father was left with his cars, garage and petrol pump until c.1952., when he sold his house and business and came to live with my husband and me. He died in 1954 and my mother just over a year later. Both were buried in Bistre Churchyard.

Reginald Jenkinson will be remembered as one of the men who started the local bus service.

*Mr. Philip Jenkinson, of The Gatehouse, the draper’s shop at Buckley Cross, retired in 1995.