TV&GWOT has an extensive collection of documents and ephemera which tell the story of passenger transport "fro' Paddington to Penzance".  The physical collection is complemented by a digital repository for scanned images and for materials created digitally so the historic record continues. Much has been donated by transport companies, private collectors and enthusiasts and is being thoroughly catalogued.  Material includes:

Displays and presentation of archive materials


Archive storage in indexed preservation quality boxes


Archive appraisal and cataloguing

  · Company records and correspondence
  · Enthusiast records and observations
  · Former staff reflections and reminiscences
  · Vehicle records including maintenance schedules
  · Operational directives
  · Still images – photographic prints, slides, digital files
  · Moving images – films, video tape, digital – private and company recordings
  · Sound recordings
  · Printed materials – timetables, leaflets, postcards, publicity booklets, posters
  · Tickets

Small objects – badges, buttons, ticket machines, destination blinds, vehicle registration and fleet

number plates, manufacturers’ plates, signs, scale models, advertising display material

  · Uniforms
  · Technical drawings – depots, equipment, vehicles
  · Publications – books, magazines, newspapers, technical manuals

TV&GWOT priorities for the archive are:

  · to meet archival standards in the care of the collection to safeguard its long-term preservation; and
  · to make the collection more widely accessible to the public.

The collection provides a rich resource and is already used extensively for displays and in articles on operational history that are disseminated through event programmes and other publications. We also respond to queries on specific aspects.  As our digital systems mature, the aim is make more information available online, first in terms of the types and coverage of materials within the collection, and then with direct access to digital versions where copyright permits.  In turn, this will support TVG&WOT’s ambition to achieve accredited archive status.

TV&GWOT has two thriving archive groups where Supporters meet regularly at our Devon and Berkshire bases.  Participants enjoy access to the collection while also supporting the Trust’s development aims by sorting, cataloguing, storing, digitising and maintaining electronic records of the collection.   If you would like to get involved you can find out more as a Supporter.


  If you have material that you would like to donate or bequeath to TV&GWOT to secure its preservation beyond your lifetime, then information can be found here  If you have any queries, please do not hesitate to contact the Trustees for a confidential discussion without commitment.  In the first instance please email: enquiries@tvagwot.org.uk  
  The Gallery below shows some examples from the archives and the insights they reveal:  


This drawing of an AEC Lorry chassis came from Reading Corporation whose first motor buses were built on such AEC Y Type chassis.  From the 14’ wheelbase it is deduced that B2159 is the drawing reference (Bus No. B2159 having a 12’10” wheelbase).  The frame is of steel flitch plate and timber sandwich form (later Y type batches had pressed steel frames).  The rectangular item under the driver’s seat is the petrol tank.  

A feature of bus operation in the past was the carriage of parcels, with local parcels agents much as there are for Hermes, Amazon and the like today. Parcels might be transferred from one bus (and bus company) to another en route.  Bus parcel services became less practical in the 1960s and 70s with one man operated vehicles and were withdrawn. An example packing note in the TV&GWOT archive is for a (rather substantial) consignment sent in 1960 from City of Oxford Motor Services to Smiths of Reading  

This is a small part of a large plan dated February 1902 for building the tramway in Reading. The steel bridge over Caversham Road at the west end of the station had a reasonable clearance for the overhead trolley wire over the double track, but at the time the bridge over Oxford Road by Reading West station was a brick arch, with limited headroom. The track was made single to pass under the bridge, as shown (and a large sign was added on the bridge to tell passengers to ‘Keep Your Seats’). The brick arch was replaced by the present steel girder one in 1938.  

This Thames Valley charabanc trips handbill is a reminder of when we could make trips to the seaside.  Just 17/6d (87½p) for a day trip to Bournemouth or to Worthing ......

It also illustrates the detective work that can be part of using an archive.

The year is not stated, but given the day/date combinations three are possible (in the ‘char-a-banc era’) when June 12th was a Sunday (etc): 1921, 1927 and 1932. However, although the trips ran from Reading, the foot of the sheet gives the head office as Maidenhead. As head office moved to Reading in May 1922, that confirms the year as 1921.


A selection of leaflets relating to Western National tours in different areas of Cornwall showing one from each decade 1930s (Newquay), ’40s (Liskeard), ’50s (Falmouth), and ’60s (Penzance).  The marking of coronation years is particularly striking.  

A 1946 extract from Reading Corporation Transport – Claims Register (1938 to 1947). The accident records give clues about life at the time. For example:


Trolleybus 106 was damaged by a car on 24 August


The bus company delivered parcels and somehow managed to lose two tins of ointment


Claims for damage to skirts and stockings on bus seats were entertained – sometimes paid, sometimes repudiated.

  · A Terraplane, a well-known type of car at the time, was damaged by bus No. 53.
  An example of history repeating itself can be seen in these extracts from Western National’s South Devon & East Cornwall Area Time Table dated 10th January, 1943.  The messages could just as well be associated with the Covid pandemic 2020-2021 nearly 80 years later.  

Ticket Punch Machine made and patented by Williamson, Ashton-under-Lyne and used by Great Western Road Motors and successor companies 1903 – 1952.

 The bus conductor would sell tickets to passengers with different colours for different fares.  Each ticket is slid into the slot of the machine and a hole punched next to the chosen destination by pressing the lever. The machine dings, the counter moves on ‘1’ and the punched circles drop inside the machine for later counting and reconciliation with the revenue. The contemporary GWR Road Motors ticket is for the company’s first route from Helston to The Lizard.


  This cast plate (measuring 1’ by 1¼ “) probably came from the entrance step of a bus bodied by W Mumford Ltd of Billacombe Works, Plymouth. Mumfords were prolific bus and coach body builders between the wars producing around 1,000 bodies.  A TV&GWOT restoration is underway on Leyland Lion 2407, the only remaining Mumford bus bodied vehicle  

All material courtesy TV&GWOT archive teams and TV&GWOT Collection.


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