‘It was exactly like On The Buses’ - Sunderland man’s memories of his career in transport

The Northern General buses.
The Northern General buses.

Wearside man James Duffield has looked back on his career as a bus driver – and hailed it as “the best job of my life”.

The 75-year-old Silksworth-born grandad reflected on a rich and varied working life after spotting last week’s feature on the old buses of Sunderland.

James Duffield shares his memories as a bus driver from 1963.

James Duffield shares his memories as a bus driver from 1963.

We described how the Economic bus rose to fame in Sunderland and asked for your own Wearside transport memories.

James, now of Murton, got in touch to tell how he drove for Northern General Transport from the early 1970s until the middle of the decade.

But his career as a driver started at the NCB ‘Philly yards’.

“There was a man called Arthur Lambert and he asked me if I had a driving licence. I said yes and he said ‘you’re the man for me’.”

It had been raining. The inspector stepped forward and I went through the water. He was like a drowned rat

James Duffield

James soon found himself driving all sorts of NCB vehicles before he left to join Northern, starting on the old Leyland buses before progressing to the Atlanteen. He was the first person to take it on the Bishop Auckland run.

There were plenty of other memories too, including the time he soaked an inspector at Jarrow who was standing in the pouring rain, and the time when he was ‘on the ten lines’.

It meant James was one of ten drivers and ten conductors who shared a rota for a particular route, one of which was Red House to Pennywell.

Another memory is of the Sunderland to Ryhope Hospital route which cost a shilling, James recalled.

Former bus driver James Duffield.

Former bus driver James Duffield.

He also remembered the names of some of his colleagues including the Franciosi brothers, the Middlewoods and Frankie Deary.

We would love to hear from more people with bus memories and we’ve got more to share next week.

In the meantime, if you have your own bus recollections to share – no matter whether it is driving them, or travelling as a passenger – email chris.cordner@jpress.co.uk

The original story which sparked the interest from James.

The original story which sparked the interest from James.