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And later operators that bought them from the likes of Hull and Leicester, and London Transport, didn't have the same problem. Of course, the traffic system in Leicester is so perfect and bus time-keeping is so marvellous now that nothing like this is needed anymore. It was a marvellous, efficient and world-leading system, which helped to negate much of the worst of Leicester's traffic problems at that time. Management always denied power-surges happened, even when people were hurt, and even I began to doubt it - until I had one myself. And so the name L H Smith would have been a familiar sight to city bus passengers of those days, speed dating guidelines even more familiar than the name of the Governor of the Bank of England who appears on our banknotes.

It was a bit of a bind having to stop at the park, Gwendolen Rd, to punch the clock when you'd got a good head of steam up, but it tested the brakes. Nearly years of expertise, innovation and dedication, thrown to the wind on the altar of so-called private enterprise. But as a reminder heavy clutches and steering, I still have a left leg thicker than my right, and arms that reach my ankles. Which was very hard on the eyes of a conductor.

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Two bars, a dance hall with sliding screens, a fully equipped stage, all fitted with disco lights, sound system, the full works. You could drive a Metro in your sleep.

The huge cloud of black smoke I left behind in my mirror was, quite frankly, astonishing. In the back was a full-width workbench, fitted out with several sizes of vice, and all manner of tools and spares, fanbelts, etc, hanging up neatly around the walls. And folks wondered why we were in such a rush and barely let the wheels stop rolling to pick up and set down. Come on engineers, tell me that is wrong. No, it didn't mean the same thing then!

And one I know of had years of experience and was the steadiest man I knew, close to retirement, and the blame destroyed him. He could also tell that it would easily be ten minutes late by the time it arrived in the city centre. And why did reports of these stop as suddenly as they started. It could be quite funny, but mostly, this paint job made us run late. It frightened me, and I was very much on my guard should it happen again, but it never did.

White discs were for overtime or rest day notices. But something must have been done, and at a very high level, because in time, reports of these surges just ceased. And no, it was not my imagination.

When you turned up for work, say for a middle or late shift at Rutland St, or when you came in off the road for your break, the first thing you would look at was the large, wall-mounted keyboard. If he had paid, he was our responsibility.

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Some people died because of this, and those drivers are still carrying the can. One camera was on the corner of Granby St and Belvoir Street, and gave a view along both of those, as well as back down Rutland St itself. Everything sounded as if it were coming loose. And those single bell pushes didn't help to improve speed on the bell, especially from upstairs!

But, after a day or so, I eventually told our Union Secretary, and he was not a man to suffer fools gladly. Left by a passenger, wheels down and facing outwards with its brake off, it just slid out and off the platform and went for a dance with the traffic. That ruined the toecap of your new boots, though. To be accused of leaving the terminus early or cheeking some elderly grandma on your day off was beyond the pale.

They just disowned us if, in starting the bus from upstairs, we dropped a clanger and dragged someone. Let's say they humoured us.

About the same as the good burghers of Hull, where I live now. Often, I'd not even been on duty on the day complained about. Warm, comfortable, fast, everything in the cab to hand, a high driving position for good all-round visibility, and so very, very easy to handle.

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We'd all dive off the staff bus as it stopped in the gateway, and queue to get inside out of the cold. The duty inspector could see if a bus was stuck in a long traffic queue, some way off, and from that number could tell what route it was on, the time of its next departure and who were crewing it. One thing's for sure, more folks know about this than has been revealed thus far. If I wasn't on that bus, there was nothing to tell. But I do know that Shipstones Ales were responsible for more missed shifts than enough.

My theory also extends to that this occurred a lot more times than was reported, for the same reason as I was reluctant to report mine. Those that raced around, throttle to the floor, never seemed to experience this. How many, who was gagged, engineers, fitters, manufacturers, forbidden to mention a word of it. Or if you were clever, you could lift it back with the toe of your boot.

Some conductors were so slick and swift on the bell that the last passenger boarding had to look sharp. Alfie would read the charge, looking at you intently over his glasses on the end of his nose, like a strict headmaster as he gauged your reaction, from which he would pronounce innocence or guilt. My theory is that slow driving, sometimes not much above tickover, allowed fuel to gather somewhere in the pump, unburnt. All gone now, of course, recently demolished to make way for a development of flats. Deputy Chief Inspector, in his office and explain oneself for some perceived misdemeanor.

But yes, I should have stopped and had that bus towed back. To my shame, I did not stop my bus and radio in there and then and demand a bus change, as I ought to have done. This is the fine machine that they sent out to us whenever we broke down and needed a tow. But we still used the coloured discs as a system of internal communications.

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So I kept my own record of which vehicles I'd actually worked on, in my duty diary by the entry of each shift, and this more often than not saved my skin and avoided the farce of the essay. The conductor's lock-up, just seen here with the flap down in the open position, wasn't big enough to take our ticket boxes with the lid up, let alone a heavy winter coat as well. Which was, as expected, met with silence from management. Peer pressure, or lack of street cred in the canteen if you did.

But it was right for the time, it was men-only operation. All the main offices were here.