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Too young to remember, but kids go for Trollies and Routemasters as Bow Garage turns 100

PUBLISHED: 22:38 07 July 2008 | UPDATED: 13:25 05 October 2010

East London Bus Depot celebrates its 100th anniversary with a route master exhibition an free Bus rides to Aldwich with the X25 Bus Express June 28, 2008

East London Bus Depot celebrates its 100th anniversary with a route master exhibition an free Bus rides to Aldwich with the X25 Bus Express June 28, 2008

Carmen Valino

IT’S NOT every day London’s passengers rush to look round the bus depot. But Bow Garage in East London was celebrating the 100th anniversary of its opening. The day, however, belonged to the kids, those perhaps a little young to remember Routemasters... and certainly too young to know anything about trolleybuses. Then before a conductress, or clippie’, would have had time in the old days to shout Hold very tight, please,’ the boys and girls rushed in as the garage opened

Top deck: James Meikel, 9, with brother Bleake, 3, and sister Beyonce, while (above) little Michael Whippy, 7, can’t decide what bus to take.

Below: The crowds trickle in all day to see the famous Routemasters and RT buses on display

IT’S NOT every day London’s passengers rush to look round the bus depot.

But Bow Garage in East London was marking a very special day celebrating the 100th anniversary of its opening.

The day, however, really belonged to the kids, those perhaps a little young to remember Routemasters... and certainly too young to know anything about trolleybuses.

The youngsters couldn’t wait. They queued for the garage to open.

Then before a conductress, or clippie’, would have had time in the old days to shout Hold very tight, please,’ hoards of boys and girls rushed in as the garage opened.

They’d heard about those old Routemasters dad was always going on about.

Now was their chance to climb all over London’s most famous big red double-deckers.

If that wasn’t enough, a few RT double-deckers from the 1930s that preceded the Routemaster were also on show, the buses that served Londoners well during the Blitz.

But they had to turn to Granddad to explain the funny trolleybus parked at the other end of the depot.

He tells them how the electric trollies used to glide their way silently, fast and smoothly along London’s main thoroughfares, powered from overhead wires suspended on poles all the way along the streets.

There was the 647 trolleybus from the London Docks running along Commercial-street to Dalston and Stamford Hill, for example, or the 665 from Smithfield to Gardner’s Corner and down to Limehouse, Poplar and Canning Town, the 649 from Liverpool Street station to Ponders End, the 555 along Hachney-road from Shoreditch to Hackney and Walthamstow, or the 653 from Aldgate along the Whitechapel-road round to Bethnal Green and up to Hackney and Holloway.

Trolleybuses were the best thing since sliced bread, granddad is heard saying, probably the most eco-friendly of all public transport ever, until they were strangely scrapped at the beginning of the 1960s.

David Jones, busy looking after the public for East London Bus Group which took over Bow Garage from London Transport, said: “We sold 1,500 programmes and we’ve had some lovely emails from people saying how much they enjoyed the day.

“But the highlight was a chance to see an old 1948 trolleybus.”

This truly was a birthday bash with a difference, to celebrate the centenary of the garage in Fairfield-road, just off the Bow-road.

Visitors were able to climb on board 20 vintage and new buses and meet enthusiasts who have painstakingly restored some of the older models on show.

They could also hop on a Routemaster for a jaunt up west’ to the Aldwych and back.

A coachload of enthusiasts came down from Liverpool for the day, another came from Chesterfield.

Proceeds from the day went towards St Joseph’s Hospice in South Hackney, which has been supported for years by the 350 drivers at the garage.

Bow Garage is home to 114 buses, enthusiasts will tell you, and to seven old Routemasters which are kept on for heritage trips like the Alwych run.

Mike Brooke

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