In a couple of months it will be 35 years since the North End, Portsmouth, bus depot closed.
Originally built as a tram depot in the 19th century, at one time it even had stables for the horses that pulled them.
Bus aficionado John Kirby, of Stubbington Avenue, North End, recalls the process that saw the eventual demise of the depot.
He says: ‘A huge survey called MAP –Market Analysis Project – took place and the closure of this fascinating building sadly resulted in its demolition and the site made way for a housing development.’
John’s colleague Mark Barnett, still a bus driver in the city, takes up the story of the final day of operation.
‘The closure of North End depot resulted in the mass withdrawal of many Portsmouth Corporation buses. These events brought about one of the proudest moments of my life when I was 22.
‘The closure was planned for Saturday, October 31, 1981.
‘Pete Ford was an Eastney depot inspector who was promoted to schedules officer. He told me that as the youngest driver I had been chosen to drive the last bus into North End depot. I would operate the journey on service 1 from Paulsgrove to North End.
‘As I approached the garage I noticed a crowd of about 25 cheering bus drivers gathered to see me in.
‘Opposite the entrance lived a lady named Mrs Tuffrey who had long complained at the noise from late-night buses. A banner was fitted to the rear of the bus saying ‘‘Good night Mrs Tuffrey!’’ and as it was approaching bonfire night, fireworks had been bought and mounted on the wall to illuminate the event.
‘It was with great pride that I made that final journey,’ adds Mark.
Coincidentally, in May it was 25 years since the Eastney depot closed – Saturday, May 25, 1991.
That building was demolished and was also replaced by a housing development, just like its North End counterpart.
John says: ‘However, the former office building is still used as Southsea police station and was awarded Best Restoration Project in 1995 by the Portsmouth Society.’