Visit to Leicester Transport Heritage Trust (LTHT)

Posted: Mon, 01 Sep 2014 10:50 by Amy Barnes

Visit to Leicester Transport Heritage Trust (LTHT)

By Andrew Hill

Recently (2nd August 2014) I headed out of Leicester on the 153 bus towards Kirby Muxloe and Desford. I was on my way to meet Richard Worman and the volunteers of the Leicester Transport Heritage Trust and the fantastic buses which they restore and preserve.

One of the key buildings in the Cultural Quarter is the LCB Depot, a former bus depot and control centre of Leicester City Transport (LCT, later Leicester CityBus LCB). Opened on the 9th March 1969, the Rutland Street operating centre was the base of operations for management and logistics of the bus network in Leicester. The company pioneered the use of CCTV television cameras and VHF radios to monitor and communicate between the drivers and control centre, leading to an efficient and flexible service.

This was also the base of operations for all drivers who would sign in and out to begin and end shifts and count up the fares they had collected during the shift. The building had social areas and a cafeteria and was the hub of the bus community allowing drivers to meet and socialise.

Listen to the sound of a Metro Scania bus starting up here.

Out in Desford I was transported back in time by the fantastic and pristine restoration work of the excellent Leicester Transport Heritage Trust members. I swiftly set up my recording equipment and thanks to Richard and his colleagues began to explore the sounds of the buses. Each had its own distinctive voice with unique engine notes and individual hiss and air sounds as the doors swung open.

I had the chance to experience:

  • 1950 Leyland PD2 – a separate conductor and driver for this type of bus with passenger access via the step at the back.
  • 1972 Metro Scania single decker bus – LCT was one of the first companies to employ this type of bus within the UK
  • 1982 Dennis Dominator – specified and part designed by the director of LCT Geoffrey Hilditch, Leicester took a large number of these buses into service. So they would have been a frequent visitor to the Rutland Street depot. Listen to the sound of a Dennis Dominator bus parking here.

Having a chance to hear and record these buses really helped me to envisage the soundscape of the Rutland Street control centre, and the local area, and to understand how important these sounds were to the historical soundscape and how iconic they would have been for the people who worked there.

On entering the tunnel into the depot, drivers would beep their horn to signal their approach. Richard was kind enough to re-enact this for our soundscape. Listen to the sound of a bus entering the depot here.

The Leicester Transport Heritage Trust keep this key element of Leicester heritage alive. While I was there they kindly downed tools while we recorded but are usually undertaking sterling work to restore these iconic vehicles. While re-upholstering a bus seat they
discovered an old LCT bus ticket which they gave to me as a memento.

This recording visit gave me a really tangible sense of this oft forgotten part of Leicester heritage.

Listen to more sounds from the LTHT here.

References:

Image courtesy of LTHT.
Sounds recorded by Andrew Hill
Special thanks to Richard Worman, Leicester Transport Heritage Trust and John Hess.

Tags: Cultural Quarter, St Georges, soundscapes, LCB depot, Leicester Transport Heritage Trust (LTHT), buses, sounds

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