History Matters || Bus transport in Glen Innes

The brown and cream bus c. 1950 and Murray Stewart (right)
The brown and cream bus c. 1950 and Murray Stewart (right)

Murray Stewart's association with buses started on March 7, 1948.

That was the day he came to Glen Innes from Brisbane to purchase the Glen Innes Bus Service.

The school bus service operating from Glen Innes to Glencoe and then on to Graham's Valley, had been previously run by Bill Howie and his brother Ted.

"I understand that over past years prior to 1946 several operators endeavoured to establish a town bus service, but due to lack of patronage their efforts were not very successful," Murray recalled when interviewed by John Tregurtha.

There were two buses in the fleet when John took over in 1948 - namely a 38-seater corridor type bus body built by Properts Sydney mounted on a converted army 'Maple Leaf' General Motors chassis.

This chassis conversion consisted of unslinging the rear springs which gave a lower floor level as well as stabilising the bus.

No 2 bus was a Reo Gold Crown 1937 vintage with a 26-seater body built by Sid Wood coach builders Sydney.

The chassis on this Reo was also underslung.

He said the town service consisted of four routes leaving the Town Hall every 20 minutes, five and a half days per week.

Saturday afternoons were cemetery runs.

The town routes were 'Racecourse', 'College Hill', 'Railway', and 'Oliver and Hunter Streets'.

Murray commenced operating the service in March 1948 employing Ted Howie until his brother Jim arrived from Gympie, Queensland in about June 1949.

"We both conducted the business including charter work right through to Jim's sudden death in 1983," he said.

"The town service was discontinued in 1969 when I purchased the franchise of the Grafton Daily Service, which was then conducted by Neville McIntyre.

"In those days mail loadings were heavy, loads comprising up to 30 bulky mailbags coming both from TPO (Travelling Post Office) and rail as well as sorted mails from the Glen Innes post office.

"In addition to this we catered for the delivery of roadside mail en route both on the Gwydir Highway and the Old Grafton Road. Some 40 roadside mailboxes on each road.

"Passengers and freight were carried, and drivers were expected to provide a commentary on points of interest en route."