OUR stop-off point this month as we journey through the mists of time and into another country they call the ‘past’ is - Abergavenny Bus Station.
When you think about it, just like train stations, bus stations are funny old things. They’re either full of people who want to be somewhere else or full of people who’ve just arrived and don’t want to hang about.
With a few rare exceptions, no-one really wants to spend any time loitering about in public transport depots if they can possibly help it. It’s an arrestable offence you know.
Yet just like Abergavenny train station, the bus station is as much a part of the fabric of old mother Aber as Bailey Park or the crumbling castle.
As these photos by Udo Schultz from 1960 in glorious Technicolor clearly demonstrates, Abergavenny bus station and the buses that called it home have changed a lot over the years, but for many, and yes motorcyclists we’re talking about you, it’s still the numero uno location to hang about and shoot the breeze.
So hold on to your seats! Here’s the history part.
Following the Public Health Act of 1925 and the Road Traffic Act of 1930, local authorities were required to provide accommodation for bus travellers along the lines of the provision already widely made for railway travellers.
Accordingly the ’Mayor and Burgesss’ of Abergavenny acquired land close to the centre of the town and near Swan Meadows for parking buses and the provision of “a shelter and waiting rooms, ticket office, and lavatories for the convenience of passengers and the public service vehicles entering the said parking place.”
The location was leased in 1931 to the Red & White Company who became responsible for the management of the building and a significant employer in the area up until the late 1970s. The rental was £100 a year, payable half-yearly. The building, which survived as a Tourist Office owned by Monmouthshire County Council, consisted of a central block with stucco gable surrounded by a brick covered way. Located at the edge of the road, buses entered the large parking area on one side of the station and exited on the other.
Red & White, which was a dynamic organisation, operated bus services from Abergavenny to Hereford, Ross on Wye and the towns of Monmouthshire. It eventually became part of the British Electric Traction Co.
Readers a bit long in the tooth and misty in the eye might recall the the original bus station snack bar, housed in an old bus, which was parked not far from the site of the present snack bar - Oasis.
The bus, a Guy, you heard it right! Was originally built in 1927 and believed to have originally operated by Northampton Corporation and dispensed refreshments to travellers and locals right up until the swinging sixties before it was taken to a place where old buses go and replaced by bricks and mortar.
So there we have it. Lesson over. Class dismissed. And by the way. If you’ve forgotten anything about Abergavenny you really think we should remember, then please get in touch by telephoning Tim Butters on 01873 852187 or be emailing [email protected]. There could be a free bus pass in it y’all.