The Bus We Loved: London’s Affiar With The Routemaster (Book Review)

INTRODUCTION

Given that I run this site it should be no surprise that the instant I imaged lot 450 in James and Sons’ July auction, which took place yesterday at the Maid’s Head Hotel in Norwich I was thinking in terms of buying it:

The original auction image for lot 450.
The original auction image for lot 450.

A MINI BIDDING WAR

What was a bit of surprise to me, given the usual fate of books at a James and Sons auction , was that on this occasion I was not alone in being interested – I was pushed up to £10 before the item was finally knocked down to me. There will be more about the auction in a forthcoming post on my blog.

THE BOOK

I read the book yesterday evening, and thoroughly enjoyed it. Having a special interest in public transport and being a cartophile into the bargain I cannot accept author Travis Elborough’s assessment of the Beck Map, but I agree with his overall view sufficiently to accept in terms of London vehicles/ rolling stock, the Routemaster stands alone as an icon, comfortably ahead of the standard black taxi (a Fairway, to give the rarely used make of the vehicle) and the classic 1938 tube stock (the last few were still in service on the Bakerloo line when I first lived in London, and there is a specimen which you can board at the London Transport Museum, Covent Garden).

What I particularly enjoyed about this book was that while obviously nostalgic (after all it was about a vehicle that is no longer used for its original purpose – I recently saw one being used for a wedding party in King’s Lynn, testament to its continuing appeal) it did not conjure up some mythical ‘golden age’.

This book is a beautifully presented, heartfelt and well written account of one of the best loved vehicles to appear anywhere in the world. I thoroughly and unreservedly recommend it and consider my £11.50 (including buyer’s premium) to have been well spent. Here are a few pictures to finish…

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