On the Buses!

Posted On: 21 Nov 2021 by Elizabeth Chilcott

An impressive collection of bus memorabilia and model buses features in Chilcotts Auctioneers September 5 Fine Art, Antiques and Collectors Items sale.


The collection of around 50 items was amassed by a resident of Barnstaple who dedicated an entire room in his home to keep all the various items.

Auctioneer Duncan Chilcott says; “Before cars became a popular mode of transport, buses – or motor coaches as they were known - were an incredibly important resource to the population.

“Many still think of them with fondness - and this collection includes some evocative memories of the glory days of bus travel.”

Items on offer are all of very high quality. There are some rare pieces including a splendid pictorial map enamel sign from Associated Motorways ‘Day and Night Express Coach Services’ depicting England, Wales and part of Scotland, and a coach filled with passengers. The coach number plate is dated 1953 and the map is in its original painted wooden frame. The estimate is between £400 and £600.

Associated Motorways was formed in 1934 when six coach operators pooled their services to provide a co-ordinated operation - over the years it morphed into National Express. One early member of the consortium was Royal Blue Buses which started life as a horse-drawn service in Bournemouth in the 1880s. Up for grabs is a Royal Blue 1950s booking sign in blue enamel with the logo of Western Southern National and an Exeter address, estimated at £300 to £400. There’s also plenty of other local bus memorabilia including badges, posters and enamel signs from the West Country.

Duncan Chilcott says “There really is something for everyone in this collection; wonderfully evocative posters, lapel badges, a vintage cap, conductors’ whistles, model buses – and if you happen to have a vintage bus in your back garden, there are even three tins of original bus paint!”

Posters are estimated at between £30 and £50, whilst the cap and badges are estimated to fetch between £80 and £120.

Viewing for September auction at the sale room in Silver Street near Honiton Community College is available by appointment with limited numbers allowed in at any one time, with masks and hand sanitiser available at the entrance. Although online bidding is available, 30 people can now attend the auction in person; places must be booked.

Post-script: This collection sold for £15,500 plus 21% Buyers Premium, September 2020