Long Distance Affairs

I received an email last month from a gentleman received an email last month from a gentleman who in the early 1970s used to catch the bus once a week from Cirencester to Bristol. He clearly wanted to reminisce and asked whether I knew of the service number & route, and whether I had a timetable. He seemed delighted when I could answer his questions.

In spite of the number sitting uncomfortably within the Stroud series, the 432 was actually Cirencester – Bristol and was but one example of Bristol Omnibus’ penchant for long distance services. BOC was past master at such buses, many of which radiated to all points from Bristol itself. Like the others of its genre, the 432 was worked by crews from both ends. Again like its sister routes, it was something of a rural ramble, operating as it did via a string of villages and towns, eventually reaching its destination some 2hrs 19 mins after departure. And the route mileage was a little over 40!

432 Timetable c.1973

432 Timetable c.1973

It was also possible (though inadvisable?) to commute on such services. The 0620 ex-Cirencester (0700 ex-Tetbury) arrived at Bristol at 0834 (later if City Road etc was busy) and, in reverse, there was an 0635 ex-Marlborough Street, arriving Cirencester at 0850. There was a 1650 back and a 1735 Monday to Friday short to Hawkesbury Upton. Even in the early 1970s few, if any, regulars would ever travel end-to-end that early, though in those days shoppers would do so. As regional and then out of town shopping developed in Swindon and Cheltenham, so this market dried up.

In the early 1970s, there were six return journeys on the 432 (four of Sundays), including a daily 1915 ex-Bristol and 1935 ex-Ciren (1925 on Sundays).

Like other longer distance services, they began to thin and dwindle as the 1970s progressed. The 432 first lost its Sundays and then was cut back to Tetbury. They’d whittled down in number even before MAP saw the end to such services well before deregulation, as BOC saw decreasing numbers. Even had they lasted twenty years longer to 2006, the European hours regulations would’ve got them in the end invariably over 31 miles each.

The 432 number eventually was recycled as a variant of the 430/1 Stroud-Minchinhampton via Amberley.


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