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 The "Toast rack"

The "Toast Rack" was a specially designed open-air bus that had a peculiar steering mechanism, similar to a military tank, using a lever. It was used in Barmouth to carry people up and down the Barmouth promenade. It earned its name because it had the appearance of a large toast rack. It was a single-decker bus with seats that ran from one side to the other with a "running board" to enable people to clamber on board. There was a roof but no sides and the bus conductor would have to stand on the running board to collect fares from the passengers.

My grandfather 'Griffith Pugh' used to drive the "Toast Rack" and there was a time when I was the conductor on the bus when I was a college student 'working' in the summer holidays. The information below was sent to me by one of my readers - many thanks!

Toast-racks were a class of bus in the Crosville fleet based on the low Freighter chassis of the Shelvoke and Drury dustcarts and sewerage disposal vehicles. Originally they were built with tiller steering which was operated by the right hand of the driver, whilst his left hand worked the gear lever that controlled the epicyclic gear box. Toast-racks had very small wheels and so were capable of very low speeds, and this made them ideal for promenade work at coastal resorts.

The driver had a full-width cab which he shared with the engine and operated tram-like controls. In later years the driver sat on a centrally-positioned seat as the tiller steering was replaced by a conventional arrangement. The body usually comprised eight rows of wooden seats, each with a capacity of four passengers, and a full length running board on each side. There was no centre-gangway, the conductor, requiring agility, collected fares from the running-boards!

All Crosville, Toast-racks was stored during World War II, and ran at Rhyl until 1952. Then they were split up and sold. Some went to Butlins at Pwllheli, where they operated as late as 1961. One was scrapped at Rhyl, another ran at Rhyl until 1956. Three ECW (Eastern Coachworks of Lowestoft) -bodied Freighters built in 1938 with 32 seat Toast-rack bodies, received Bedford, 6-cylinder, 28hp petrol engines and were given new radiators (giving them an even more unusual appearance) in 1955.

They operated from that year at Barmouth and Aberyswyth until 1960 when they were sold, minus their engines, to a Warrington scrap merchant. These three vehicles were given a re-allocation of fleet numbers in the 'U' classification. They were numbered U12-14 (CFM 340-2).

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John Pugh
Copyright 1999 [Digital Imagery]. All rights reserved.
Revised: May 18, 2003 .