Then and Now: Windrush Square
Photographic comparisons of old and modern views of Lambeth
1931 Situated on the plot of land between Ardville Road (now Rushcroft Rd) and Saltoun Road, this was the
first Motor Coach Station in the county of London. Operated by Orange Luxury Coaches, the bus station faced Effra Road and was built in 1927. In 1933, there was a large banner under the arch announcing trips 'daily to all seaside resorts'. To the left of the depot there was a small Esso petrol station.
Bulletin board chat:
transportbloke reminisces about the old garage:
Hi, I was a driver for Orange Luxury during the summer of 1969. I'd just finished teacher training in Streatham, and had a gap of about three months before taking up a teaching appointment at William Penn School, Red Post Hill. As I was living in Burton Road, Brixton, the Orange garage was fairly local.
I visited the garage, met Don Royle the manager, and asked him if I could work for the summer. He told me he would hire a coach to me for £25 so I could take the PSV test and if I stayed working for them for the summer they would refund the £25! In the event he never charged me!
Driver training was very informal. In those days anyone with a car licence could drive a PSV as long as there were no fare-paying passengers in it and you were accompanied by a qualified PSV driver. So I would spend all day out in a coach and jump in the driving seat as soon as there were no passengers on board. After a week I went up to the Public Carriage Office in Islington, took the test, and gained my "badge" - N91496. (I still have it to this day.)
I have to admit that, though I was with the company for three months, my memories of the garage building are fairly hazy. Not surprising really, as we didn't spend much time in and around it, other than cleaning and polishing the coaches or refuelling. (It was an instant sackable offence to run out of fuel!) Don wanted us all out on the road earning revenue!
The building was basically a parking area for the coaches, and not just Orange coaches. There was a great swapping of coaches with Grey-Green on an almost daily basis. Also, because Grey-Green were part of the East Anglian Express "pool" we often found ourselves driving coaches from eg Eastern Counties.
We did have a full-time mechanic based at the garage, but there was no heavy machinery as he was only responsible for minor running repairs. Major work was undertaken at the Grey-Green depot at Stamford Hill.
I can't recall a cafe on the premises. Just inside the entrance was the manager's office where the day's duties were posted on the window, and I believe I can remember a crew room either joined on to this, or fairly nearby. Outside, on the forecourt, were diesel pumps and there was a kiosk where punters could buy tickets for all the trips. The regular ones were painted on a large signboard, and day "specials" were advertised on A-boards.
I can't recall any special platform for passengers. If they were travelling on a route that started from Brixton they just wandered around the forecourt or Effra Road until they found the right coach, or if it was a route that had started elsewhere, the coach would pull up at the pavement on the main drag.
Security wasn't a big issue in those days, and I don't believe the garage was ever locked. Often, if returning late to the depot, eg in the early hours, you could disturb a couple of the local "ladies of the night" entertaining their customers on the back seats of empty coaches!
I haven't been able to find much in print about the Brixton depot. There is an excellent chapter on the history of Orange Luxury in "Grey-Green and Contemporaries Book One (to 1960)" by Tom McLachlan (ex-General Manager of Grey-Green). On p45 there is a sepia print of three charabancs outside the garage in 1928.
Sorry I can't remember too much more. If you'd asked me about the coaches I could probably have been more forthcoming!
View the chat here: Orange Luxury Coaches.
(pic: Lambeth Archives)
Jan 2004 The entire site has now been swept away and replaced by a welcome new green space. Renamed 'Windrush Square', the square stands as a legacy to post-war settlers from the Caribbean. The SS Windrush docked at Tilbury in 1948 with 492 West Indians on board and a large Caribbean community later established itself in the Brixton area.
See: BBC Windrush article
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