MIME-Version: 1.0 Content-Location: file:///C:/C6F8D0D2/AMOS2.htm Content-Transfer-Encoding: quoted-printable Content-Type: text/html; charset="us-ascii" Some memories of Amos of Belchamp St Paul (near Sudbury)

Some memories of Amos of Belc= hamp St Paul (near Sudbury)


Contributed by Alan A Watkins.


Firs= t, some thoughts prompted by a photo of Bedford OWB JVX307.


T= his vehicle was new to Amos, Belchamp St Paul, with wooden seats in November 1944 (I was two at the time) and this was a priori= ty vehicle authorised and supplied by the then Min= istry of War to an operator in the wilds of nowhere who accidentally became importan= t in Whitehall because they were major contractors during World War Two firstly = in the building of the makeshift airfields for the Spitfires of Essex and Suffolk = and were major transporters of staff to and from and of those who constructed them.  Priority applicants.

This is Betty, named after the daughter Mr and = Mrs Amos lost to pneumonia in 1943 aged three or four= I think and she perpetuated that name through the more p= eacefu post war lanes in this wonderfully rural part of the world (and it still is) until the early 60's by which time she had, through war and peace, clocked = up over a million miles "without much trouble" which is going some in that rural enclave.

I cannot remember who he sold it to but I do know he regretted selling &quo= t;her" late into his life.  When I first met Bill Amos (1970ish I think) he t= ook me up the stairs of the garage to the loft where was a complete set of spare seats for Betty and headlamps and a spare gearbox and various other bits and pieces.

"I wish I'd never sold her.  Bloody stupid thing to do" he s= aid and there were tears in his eyes which I didn't understand at the time but = do now.

All her "spare parts" were still up in the loft but sadly, by the= n, she was no longer there.

To and fro airfields in the war years, to and fro Sudbury (and Bury= St Edmunds) on stage work in more peaceful times.

Mr and Mrs Amos were
an absolutely delightful couple.  Aside from= the three or four buses he had a couple of tipper lorries = mostly used for sugar beet work.  One of them was a Leyland Comet (can't reme= mber the other one).

The company was started by his father with horse drawn carrier services int= o Sudbury and I hav= e his original headed notepaper which proclaims "Launde= lettes For Hire" with a 191 date for you to fill i= n.

I also have an invoice from Bill's dad to Premier Travel confirming that he would provide a coach on a hiring in extra - "the charge I will leave = to you".  Yeah, right.

Both Mr and Mrs Amos a joy to deal with.  Lovely honest cou= ntry folk. They used Bell Punch stock tickets but I printed their first a= nd last titled tickets headed AMOS COACHES.  He kept driving into his 80'= s.

Anyway Bill DID regret selling Betty and I would claim to have seen the tea= rs in his eyes to prove it.

Poor old girl.  Over a million miles in tha= t part of the world is going some!

It is just a piece of machinery of course...........

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And more recollections:=

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S= adly the OWB was not a survivor [the PSVC publication PF6 has it as withdrawn 6/64, to Fontenay Fruit Farms, Wickham Bishops (non-PSV)].  Billy did try to buy her back several years after she was sold but by then she had gone for scrap - somet= hing for which he appeared not to have forgiven himself.

The company started as JW Amos (Billy's father) as a horse drawn carrier in= to Sudbury (mainly t= he market days of Wednesday and Saturday) and that remained the basis of their stage carriage operations to the very end.  Before the last war there = was also a Wednesday only service to Bury St Edmunds (again for market day) but=
that ceased sometime in the middle 1950's I believe.  The steady income right to the end was school contracts which required two or three vehicles = and the timings of the stage services were such that these could be fitted in "around" the stage services.

After the death of Billy's father, at some age in the 60's, the company bec= ame W.G Amos (T/A Amos Coaches).  There were also two lorries which did occasional local haulage work mostly for the farms but which were at their busiest in the Sugar Beet season transporting loads to both Felsted and Kin= gs Lynn.  They also held a couple of modest summer excursion licences to such as Clacton & Walton, Southend (f= or the Illuminations plus an Excursion Licence to Ipswich Town FC.

The pace in the Belchamps (Otten and Walter as well as St Paul<= /st1:place>) was, and remains, slow.  Billy did all the maintenance work, the repai= rs, while his wife at the time I came to know them did all the "office work"= ;.  There was then a shop at Belchamp St Paul (almo= st opposite the garage which overlooked the Village Green) but she had for some years done her shopping in Sudbury on "market days", going in on = the bus and taking the fares (as did the wife of Mr= Jolly of Norton working into
Bury St Edmunds).  Otherwise it was always "one person operated". They used Bell Punch stock tickets until I began to supply = them with their first ever titled tickets.  They ordered about once every s= ix months in very small quantities.

I used to deliver to them because it was a lovely excuse for an afternoon o= ut in a beautiful and remote part of the world.  With variations the stage route to Sudbury (which operated about four days a week) variously served the two "other" Belchamps, Ovington, Tilbury juxta Clare, Borle= y.  Much of the route and variations were almost single track in places with so= me tortuous hairpin bends en route to the Belchamps.  You won't find much out there now but it was extremely peaceful when I knew= it - the drone of a  working tractor somewhere= was about the only thing that impeded upon the peace.  A few muddy roads sometime in the Winter as tractors proceeded from field to field without observing the then non existent health and safety directive to clean your wheels first.  In those days if there was a bl= oody great
lump of mud in the road you just steered round it.  That was then.

Both were very active in the local community.  He was the churchwarden= for many years (as his father had been) and Mrs A w= as a member of the "Flower Committee" who did the arrangements.  = She was a most charming and thoughtful lady.  Billy told me one afternoon = that the most money the firm had ever made was during the war years - the construction of the airfield and then contract services to places like RAF Shepherds Grove (near Bury) which was the "paperwork" headquarter= s of that region of East Anglia and which needed civilian clerks in some numbers= .  Mrs A thoughtfully observed how ironic it was t= hat the War
destroyed some but benefitted others.  In the time that I knew them all the "staff" were part time - either re= tired folk or agricultural workers making a few quid on the side by driving as and when required.  For several years after the war they also had work tra= nsporting former German prisoners of war to and from the "Land
Settlements", mostly to work on local farms.  Premier Travel had = similar work at Abingdon diverting some Tuesday journeys to the "Land Settleme= nt" on Service 13 from Linton to Saffron Walden.

It really is an age gone forever.  As I've recalled before Mrs A rang me one day with a ticket order and politely asked if I could make the fares on my punch tickets larger "because our driver who does Sudbury has difficulty in making out the fares".  I obliged, upped the po= int size and did them in bold.  Whatever the eyesight problems they never hit anything so far as I know.  Into the 50's they also had a Vauxhall car which doubled as a taxi if needed.

They had their local private hire work - the Sunday Sch= ool outings, the WI trips.  Throughout the war years and into the middle 6= 0's they also got "hired in", primarily by Premier Travel for summer reliefs on Service 5 (Birmingham-Clacton) or to held with things like the annual outing of the Haverhill Co-operative Society Ltd (a day at the seasi= de like Walton on Naze, Clacton or Southend) which, in the days of low capacity vehicles, often required 30 or more.  Another regular source of income= in the "Golden Age" of buses in East Anglia were duplicates to and f= rom London Kings X on the two services via Thaxted operated by the splendidly n= amed Barnabas Kingston Jennings (BK Jennings) of Ashen which is just down the ro= ad through the twisty lanes.  There was also occasional work for Mr Chinery of Corona Coac= hes at Acton.  I am= sure "Betty" would have appeared on all of these at some stage or another in her life.
Amos was a real "country bus" which I just caught the end of.&nbs= p; It really was the end of an era and I think I was conscious of that. Billy simply retired - there was no one to take it over and I imagine they made s= uch little profit that no one would have been interested in buying the business.  Obviously they made enough to live on (the school contracts probably guaranteed that) but I got the impression that they led a very sim= ple existence and had done all their lives  At = the time I knew them they certainly hadn't then got around to acquiring a television and I can't imagine they felt a pressing need to do so.    Very few used the bus service to Sudbury after the late 50's/middle 60's= and as the years passed they got older and older and eventually left this mortal coil and waited by the roadside no more.

And, by then, even the farmworkers had their ow= n cars and could go to Sudbury (or further) as and when they liked.  Today the last remnants of the A= mos service is a Wednesday there and back trip to Sudbury by the Braintree District Counc= il "shopper bus".  It is fully wheelchair accessible - which po= or old "Betty" was certainly not - and the Council proudly claim that the driver is willing to help with pushchai= rs and carrying shopping but that was always the case with Mr= or Mrs Amos and their drivers as well.  The difference, I suppose, is that you didn't need to say it in those days.

The Amos "garage" was a huge wooden barn like structure (and, for= all I know, it may well have originally been just that) with the spare parts "loft" upstairs.  In between school contracts buses were oft= en just left in the road by the village green (no parking restrictions then, or now= , so far as I know) and such road users as materialized just circumnavigated them.  In those days it was the "Small Society" and Billy Am= os and his forbears, including "Betty",  we= re an intrinsic part of that fabric.

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T= o read Alan Osborne’s comments on the end of operations by Amos, click here.