On Friday 6 December 2019, Reading Buses celebrated 100 years since the first motorbus was brought into service on the route from St Andrew’s Church, Caversham Heights to the Plough Inn, Tilehurst. The Thames Valley and Great Western Omnibus Trust will be running five historic Reading buses on routes through the town tomorrow, Sunday 8 December.
In 1919, the Mayor, alderman George Stewart Abram, drove the bus on a trial run with councillors and borough officials as paying passengers. That inaugural run was recreated this year with the Mayor, Church ward councillor Paul Woodward, although he was not allowed to drive it.
This year’s Reading Civic Run bus left Bridge Street at 10am and drove over to Albert Road in Caversham where it met up with a 1935 Reading Corporation bus owned and maintained by the British Trolleybus Society. Both buses then followed the inaugural route over to Tilehurst as far as Reading’s current traffic system allows.
The original route was from St Andrew’s Church/Harrogate Road via Albert Road, The Mount, Priest Hill, St Anne’s Road, Church Road, Bridge Street, Caversham Bridge, Caversham Road, Tudor Road, Station Hill, Station Square, Station Road, Queen Victoria Street, Broad Street, St Mary’s Butts, Castle Street, Castle Hill, Bath Road, Liebenrood Road, Waverley Road, Grovelands Road, Oxford Road, Norcot Road and School Road to the Plough Inn.
In 2019, the passengers were the Mayor of Reading councillor Paul Woodward, the deputy leader of the council and lead councillor for strategic environment, planning and transport Tony Page, bus enthusiasts, the Reading Buses CEO Robert Williams, retired employees of Reading Buses, long serving employees and apprentices.
It rained, just like in 1919, but only for part of the trip. Unlike in 1919, the upper deck of the bus was not open so there was some protection from the elements.
The Reading Buses CEO Robert Williams spoke at a reception at the Town Hall about the importance of the anniversary and how Reading Buses vehicles and services continue to adapt to current circumstances and requirements. He and the Mayor then cut a cake in the shape of Reading’s No 1 motorbus.
The Thames Valley and Great Western Omnibus Trust has published a new book called 100 years of Reading Motorbuses to mark the occasion.
The trust is running commemorative bus services from St Mary’s Butts on Sunday 8 December. Five historic Reading buses will ply the original route every 10 minutes from 10.30am to 3.10pm.