London Transport Museum
Talk and book launch – Ole Bill: London Buses and the First World War
Thursday 11 September – 18.30
Talk and book launch: Ole Bill – London Buses and the First World War
Date: Thursday 11 September 2014
Time: 18.30 to 20.00
Tickets: £10.00 (£8.00 concessions) includes free admission to London Transport Museum’s main galleries from 16.00 and a 20% discount on food and drink (excluding alcohol) in the Museum’s Upper Deck café-bar.
A new book, Ole Bill – London Buses and the First World War by Dr William D. Ward, will be launched at London Transport Museum on the evening of Thursday 11 September.
Dr Ward will give an illustrated talk based on extensive original research for his new book. Afterwards there will be a Q&A session and Dr Ward will be available to sign copies of his book. Both the talk and book bring to life the busmen’s experience of the Western Front and their contribution to the war effort of 1914 to 1918 – a lesser-known story within the vast historical records of the First World War. Ole Bill – London Buses and the First World War has been published by London Transport Museum as part of its commemoration of the centenary of the First World War.
Tickets include free entry to London Transport Museum from 16.00 to see B-type Bus No. 2737 (B2737) which will have been transformed from its traditional red and cream livery into wartime appearance, and Ole Bill bus No. B43, which is currently on loan from the Imperial War Museum.
The conversion B2737 into a ‘Battle Bus’ begins on Monday 8 September and will involve the removal of advertisements, signage, moquette seating fabric and fare chart. The windows will then be boarded up, military headlamps fitted, the body work painted khaki and the bus equipped with a pickaxe and shovel. This transformation will occur immediately prior to its commemorative tour of French and Belgium battlefields on Thursday 18 September.
The talk and book signing will take place in the Cubic Theatre, London Transport Museum, Covent Garden Piazza, WC2E 7BB.
Tickets can be booked in advance at www.ltmuseum.co.uk or on 020 7565 7298.
About B-type bus B2737
B2737 has been recently restored with support from the Heritage Lottery Fund, London Transport Museum Friends and public donations. One of only four surviving B-type London buses, it was built at the AEC Works in Walthamstow in 1914 and served on route 9 out of Mortlake garage in south west London, which operated between Barnes and Liverpool Street. Single ordinary tickets cost 3½d. It was one of over 1,000 London buses requisitioned for service on the Front Line during the First World War. These buses were used to transport troops to the front lines – taking fresh troops out and returning with the sick and wounded, or men leaving the trenches for rest periods. One entry in a driver’s log book states ‘returned empty’, a stark and chilling reminder to the many lives lost during the conflict. They were also used as ambulances and even as mobile pigeon lofts.
About B-type bus B43 – Ole Bill
B43, later named after Bruce Bairnsfather’s famous wartime cartoon character ‘Ole Bill’, was built in 1911. The vehicle worked mainly on routes 8 (Willesden to Old Ford) and 25 (Victoria to Seven Kings) before the First World War. After the war, on 14 February 1920, it was inspected at Buckingham Palace by HM King George V, thus becoming the first bus His Majesty had ever boarded. It worked the streets of London until 1924 when it was handed over to the Auxiliary Omnibus Companies Association, becoming a permanent memorial to the role played by London buses in the First World War and regularly appearing in Armistice Day parades until the1960s.