Llanelli Bus Photograph 1925
In November 2012 we published this unknown photograph of a bus in Llanelli that was brought to our attention by Llanelli Community Heritage member, Christine Andrews. It gives us a rare glimpse of social life in the town and was likely to have been taken as an impromptu shot showing the driver and the conductress in a brief moment of joviality, probably at the fact that someone should ever want to take a photograph of them at their work!
Despite a public appeal from our website for any information about this image we knew little else. But recent work carried out with the help of the staff of Llanelli Reference Library and the contributors to the website www.old-bus-photos.co.uk, we have managed to fill in more pieces of the jigsaw puzzle that was posed by this old photograph. We know that it was indeed taken in the town of Llanelli because we can see The Golden Lion Hotel in the background advertising Buckley's Ales and Stouts.
The Golden Lion Hotel stood at the corner of Market Street and Stepney Place, opposite the entrance of Vint's Palace Theatre, or to many Llanellyites it was simply the Vint's, once one of the town's numerous cinemas. Also in the background can be seen the lane that leads into Als Street, which is still extant.
The right of the photograph shows a billboard on the wall of the Llanelly Pottery in Murray Street, advertising the film The White Sister, starring Lillian Gish directed by Henry King and written by F. Marion Crawford. This movie was released in 1923. However, a careful examination of the image on the billboard also reveals that the film was being shown at the Hippodrome, a rival cinema to the Vint's! Furthermore a trawl through all of the town's newspapers has revealed the fact that it was advertised to be shown at the Hippodrome from Thursday March 26 through to Sat 4th April of 1925. So we can probably assume that this photograph was taken about that time.
During that decade the Borough of Llanelli saw at least sixteen independent bus companies operating services in the town, but from a Llanelli Borough Census of Omnibus Traffic taken in February 1929, we find that H. Sage ran the route from their stop at Vint's down to New Dock, while another company by the name of G. Gimblett had their route from the Hospital to New Dock.
Because of the manpower shortage caused by the First World War, women were employed to replace the men as conductors on the buses and they became affectionately known as clippies. It was to be a vocation followed by women long after. H. Sage is said to have employed his daughters as clippies in the early evening after school.
The eastern entrance of the Llanelli Asda Shopping Centre now subtends the present-day location of the Vint's bus stop. Vint's Palace Theatre became a bingo hall which burnt down in 1973. The Hippodrome, previously known as The Royalty, was a Victorian theatre that became a cinema and later a bingo hall. The building was demolished in 1977 to make way for a new Tesco store now the Tinopolis Studio.
So what about the bus? If it was a Sage's bus, the possibilities are that it could be a local coach built body on an Albion chassis, a Dodge or a Gilford? If it was a Gimblett's bus, it could be an American 28-seater Rio Bus?
The case on that one is still open.
Notes and Citations
SWP 31 May 1911 Tram pic and new Vints Palace Theatre
Star 24 Nov. 1973 Palace Cinema Burnt down
Star Aug 1934 'New' Palace Cinema opening sketch
Llanelli Miscellany No 22 p 61 'Public Transport in the Llanelli Area', by E Davies,
Llanelli Library LC 3426 H G Sage
Llanelli Library LC 11266 Bus history
Llanelli Library LC 481
Llanelli Community Heritage articles LCH0105, LCH0052