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Road Transport

In terms of road transport, Normandy one hundred years ago was very different to what it is today. Mention has been made about the generally bad state of the roads. Vehicles were horse-drawn and the local smithys did a good trade in maintaining both animals and the vehicles they drew.

Normandy Smithy
Normandy Smithy about 1906
The smithy was on the north side of Guildford Road to the west of the Anchor and had been there since at least 1825. It was subsequently a builder's workshop and a coachbuilder's paint shop until World War II.

There have been commercial carriers in Normandy since the earliest times. In 1881, William Marshall was a carter in Normandy village and James Alderton of Wyke Cottage was a "Farmers Carter". By 1909 commercial carriage was also offered by Alfred Matthews who went to Farnborough, Aldershot and Farnham on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays at 8.30am and to Guildford on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays at 8am. His wife Sarah sold cakes from her cafe at their home at Petworth Villa near the Nightingale inn. The Friary Brewery used a steam wagon to deliver to the Duke of Normandy. In about 1930 Albert Chant established his haulage contracting business in Guildford Road. He would put wooden seats in his van and transport people to the races and on works outings. He would also carry worshippers to the Roman Catholic Church on Sundays. Before long he also became a coach proprietor and from then on his passengers could travel in more comfort. As his sons grew up they joined the firm and assisted their father. Frank Chant drove the coach when his father became ill. Albert Chant died in 1939 and the brothers took over the firm. Sister Edie, having learnt to drive, went back to assist her brothers and helped to keep the business going when they were called up for military service. As the brothers grew older the business gradually wound down but Jim Chant, although officially retired, is still driving on occasions. Charabancs were popular in the 1920s and 1930s and passengers brought trade to the village, particularly when the Aldershot Tattoos were held at Rushmoor Arena.

Since the Aldershot and District Traction Company (A&D), familiarly known as the "Tracco", played such an important part in the life of the village it is worth going into a little more detail of its workings. The A&D started operating a bus service between Aldershot and Godalming via Normandy and Guildford on 31 January 1914. This route also took in the Fox Inn at Pirbright, Worplesdon and Stoughton. To start with, there were three buses a day in each direction on weekdays and two on Sundays.

April 1914 Time Table

 

 

Cover of the Aldershot and District Traction Company, April 1914 Time Table.

Click on Cover to see the Aldershot and Godalming via Normandy and Guildford time table and Fares.

The journey time from Aldershot, Queen Hotel to Wyke Church was scheduled at 25 minutes. The company started the service with Dennis buses and there were also AEC "B" types, which were marketed by Daimler, and Belsize vehicles. The buses were first identified only by the destination. Subsequently, letters of the alphabet were used and finally the routes were numbered. Later, Dennis buses would take over almost completely and the A&D stayed loyal to this make for almost the whole of the rest of its existence.

In 1915 the route was changed from via the Fox Inn and Worplesdon to run along the A323 past the turning to Wood Street. It also ran through to Witley and Haslemere for a few months. In 1916 and 1917 several services were suspended for the duration of the war but the Aldershot/Guildford route was one of the few to continue and by August 1916 the number of buses per day had increased to five on weekdays and three on Sundays. By the end of 1919 all the suspended services had been restored and the service to Normandy had again been increased to eight a day on weekdays and six on Sundays. The route had been extended to Dorking and was identified by the letter H. Further changes continued to be made in the schedules and in 1924 the frequency was up to 30 minutes intervals. The running time from Aldershot Queen Hotel to Wyke Church had been reduced to 22 minutes. By this time the service between Aldershot and Guildford was numbered 20 and the extended service to Dorking which also passed through the village was numbered 25. The 1926 General Strike had little effect on the A&D as all their employees remained at work and normal services were run. Tuesday 1 August 1933 was the last day of operation east of Guildford, this service having been taken over by the London Passenger Transport Board.

December 1930 Time Table

 

Cover of the Aldershot and District Traction Company, December 1930 Time Table.

Click on Cover to see the Aldershot and Dorking via Normandy and Guildford time table and Fares.

Also here you can see the War Emergency Time-Table from October 1939.

World War II had little effect on the operation of the route through Normandy although, especially on Saturdays, it could prove difficult to get on the very full buses. This situation was even worse when Aldershot Football Club was playing at home. In 1942 a letter from the Ministry of War Transport, exhibiting a typical piece of wartime bureaucracy, agreed that unclaimed rationed foodstuffs left in public service vehicles could be consumed in the operator's canteens providing that food coupons to the relative value of the foodstuffs were surrendered. One wonders how such a scheme could have been monitored. In 1943 the position of bus stopping points in Normandy was formalised and with two exceptions these have remained as agreed at that time. When the slip road into Pirbright Road from Elm Hill was constructed the bus stop was moved there from the previous position to the east of the junction. In 1997 Wyke crossroads was reconstructed to provide waiting bays for traffic turning right out of Guildford Road. The bus stop opposite Wyke Church was moved to a layby slightly to the west of the junction. In 1943 the A&D announced that it was introducing a minimum fare of 3d (1.25p) single on all outward journeys from Aldershot to Guildford. This was to discourage short distance passengers from travelling on the 20 service.

Dennis Lance 228

On the evening of 4th January 1963, Dennis Lance 228 (LOU 56) collided with a tanker at Normandy, went through a hedge and landed in a snow-filled ditch.

(Photo P. J. Holmes Collection)

Dennis Lance K4
Dennis Lance K4 at the Normandy War Memorial in the late 1950's
(Photo Peter Trevaskis)

After the war the service frequencies were maintained and in 1949 service 20 was converted to double-decker operation using brand new Dennis Lance K3s. In 1960 the service 20c between Farnborough and Ash Street was revised and linked with service 20. The combined service was increased to form a 15 minutes frequency between Aldershot and Guildford. Most buses started at Wellington Avenue in Aldershot, some coming through from Farnborough, and terminated at the Guildford Bus Station in Farnham Road. Until May 1950 they had terminated at the Technical Institute in Park Street. In 1958 the Dennis "Loline" chassis, built under licence and a version of the Bristol "Lodekka", (previously only available to nationalised bus operators of the Tilling Group) was produced. The A&D took thirty four examples and Service 20 was so equipped. The offsetting of the transmission shaft enabled a low level gangway downstairs and a central upper deck gangway in place of the former bench seating with a sunken offside gangway. East Lancashire Coachbuilders of Blackburn built the body, incorporating a platform-door.
May 1960 Time Table
 
 
Aldershot and District Traction Company, May 1960 Time Table.
 
Alder Valley Time Table from February 1979
 
Stagecoach August 2004 to September 2012
Click on Time Table to see more

In 1972, the A&D took over the assets of the Thames Valley Traction Company Ltd. and the company became Alder Valley. The familiar green and cream livery gradually disappeared to be replaced by a less attractive overall red scheme later reverting to a green and ochre livery. The service 20 was renumbered 220 and the 239 service to Camberley was rearranged so that it was rerouted via Normandy and the existing frequencies through the village were maintained. The journey time between Aldershot and Wyke Church had been reduced again to 17 minutes.

On 26 October 1992 Alder Valley passed into history having been taken over by the ubiquitous Stagecoach Group. At first, Stagecoach transfers were stuck over the Alder Valley insignia retaining the previous livery but soon this was replaced by the new owner's distinctive striped finish.

In 1922 when A&D were running buses from Aldershot to Guildford eleven times daily,
F Barton "passed through" from Frimley to Guildford on Tuesdays and Thursdays. His bus service continued up to the outbreak of World War II. Of lesser importance than the A&D but nonetheless significant in the life of the community was the Yellow Bus Service, founded by Frank Hutchins and Sydney Hayter. In 1928 they started to operate a route from Guildford to Camberley via Wood Street and Normandy using Dennis 30cwt chassis fitted with Strachan and Brown 18 seater bodies. As trade picked up these were replaced by Dennis Lancet 32 seaters. In November 1928 the A&D applied for a licence to operate from Guildford to Normandy and Christmaspie via Wood Street which would have competed with the Yellow Buses but the application was refused. In 1949 the Yellow Bus Company offered the Camberley route together with three new Dennis Lancet buses to the A&D but were turned down. However, in 1954 with business falling off A&D finally took the route over but only the Guildford - Wood Street (Frog Grove Lane) and Ash (Dover Arms) - Camberley sections.

Yellow Bus Services Time-Table 1948
Yellow Bus Services
Time-Table and Map
from 1948
 
Click on Time Table to see more
 
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to download in one PDF file

In October 1989 the Tillingbourne Bus Company started a local service (No 545) on Tuesdays and Fridays linking Christmaspie, Wyke, Normandy to the Royal Surrey County Hospital and Guildford. In May 1991 the Godalming to Farnham and Aldershot service was diverted to serve Christmaspie on Mondays and Thursdays. Further changes were introduced on 3 May 1995 with a Wednesday only service (Route 548) from Farnham, Christmaspie and Normandy to Woking. This service was introduced at the request of local Normandy residents and proved very popular. Minor changes took place in 1995 with the 545 being renumbered 547 and a school bus (No 694) being introduced from Normandy and Christmaspie to Broadwater School. This pattern of services continued until January 1999 when a new service (Route 546) to Farnham via Tongham from Christmaspie and Normandy and one direct (Route 549) from Normandy and Christmaspie via Wanborough to Guildford was introduced. All of these services were supported by Surrey County Council and Tillingbourne attempted to fulfil a need for local passengers for shopping, leisure and hospital visiting.

In September 2000 many of the services were awarded to Stagecoach who ran them for a short while. Those services which remain have been operated by a number of operators - Safeguard Coaches, Thames Bus, Centra and Countryliner.

One hundred years ago, personal transport was almost entirely the prerogative of the "well-to-do". One mode of transport that was an exception was the bicycle, which enjoyed a boom in popularity in the latter part of the 19th century and the early part of the 20th century. Anyone who was fit and could afford it, considered purchasing a machine to broaden their horizons and cycling clubs were very popular. Certain inns became recognised meeting places for cyclists, the Anchor at Ripley being a particularly well-known example. The bicycle hire business was also in full swing for those less well-off. For the more affluent and adventurous, motorcycles became practical in the early years of the 20th century. However, the roads remained poor and punctures were frequent.

It is a matter of debate as to who owned the first private car in the village. Certainly, Lady Roberts of Henley Park was an early owner and the Field family who lived at "The White House" in Glaziers Lane had an open Model 'T' Ford. The first car through the village is said to have ended up in a ditch near the Guildford Road crossroads. In the 1930s cars were still few and far between.

The Road at Normandy Village c1910
The Road at Normandy Village about 1910
Note: the shop on the right still survives as the Motorcycle Shop

Barnett the poultry farmer, Mr Cull and Sir Philip Henriques of Normandy Park were among the few owners and William Olley had a car provided for his work as a representative for Skeet and Jeffes. By 1938 John Horne, who had retired from his grocery shop to become a market gardener on his holding at Coorabelle, now called High Gables in Glaziers Lane, was offering cars for hire (phone Normandy 42). Tommy James ran a taxi service at Normandy Garage.

Private Transport
 
 
 
Private Transport

Normandy Garages
 
Driving a car in the late 1940's and
Road Safety in the 1950s and 60s
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During the war many servicemen learnt to drive and with the coming of peace and full employment more and more were able to afford to buy a vehicle. However, the immediate post-war period was one of austerity and most vehicles produced in this country went for export to support the balance of payments. By the 1950s the situation had eased and the number of cars and motor cycles proliferated until the present time when driving has become somewhat of a nightmare because of the sheer volume of traffic. Thus while road surfaces have improved out of all recognition and mobility for most people has increased, fierce competition from road transport threatens the existence of the railway and public transport tends to be an expensive option.

Also See Wanborough Station page

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