The Bristol MW was popular at Stroud during the 1960s and 1970s on the many rural routes radiating from Stroud bus station. Vehicles used were of both the five- and six-cylinder Gardner engined varieties (MW5G and MW6G), the six-cylinder examples self-evidently performing better on the local hills. Even in the mid seventies, Stroud had up to 26 MW examples, the first of which was delivered in 1963. Anecdotally, the first MW, however, is believed to have arrived somewhat earlier at Stroud, in 1959. The model gradually replaced the significant number of Bristol Ls dating back to the late 1940s, the smaller number of LSs from the early 1950s, and also some double decks. MWs were the first significant batch of new vehicles which allowed one man operation. As such, their arrival speeded up Stroud’s conversion of routes. Nevertheless, conductors still operated on some early MWs on selected routes. MW operation until the last was on services to villages such as towards Dursley/Berkeley (415), Bisley/Oakridge (425), Framilode via Frampton-on-Severn (427), Ruscombe (436), Randwick (441), Minchinhampton (430-2; 447-9), and the Stanleys (433). With passenger seating capacities of either 43 or 45 seats and mostly with five cylinder engines,
Stroud also operated a couple of dual purpose 39 seated vehicles, with six cylinders. The five cylinder engined variety never sparkled up the long climbs of the Cotswolds but rewarded the passenger when they reached the top, operating flat “out along” along the dip of the hills. It is some of these routes that have seen the most savage cuts in recent years, with a limited service from Stroud to Ruscombe, Randwick, Oakridge & tpwards Framilode; and significant withdrawals to Minchinhampton; and no service at all to Framilode (save one return journey once a week to Frampton on Severn) or Berkeley. With the opening of the Severn Bridge in 1966, the much trumpeted Bristol – Cardiff service 300 began. Little is now remembered of Stroud’s own contribution to bus services across the Severn Bridge. Between 1966 and 1972, Stroud’s MWs would operate between Stroud, Selsley, Nympsfield, Uley, Dursley, Berkeley and Chepstow (sic) under service 415, with two return journeys to Chepstow connecting with Red & White 73 from Cardiff and Newport. Stroud drivers of the time will tell you that it was quite possible to operate the entire round trip to Chepstow and back without seeing a single passenger! In 1972, the service reverted to its Berkeley terminus. As a destination from Stroud, Berkeley was somewhat new in itself, the 415 and its predecessors terminating at Dursley in the early 1960s.
1. Former MW coach 2114 survived at Stroud as a tow truck W144 into the 1980s 2. Typically with 43-45 passenger seats, MWs were well suited to the more rural of Stroud’s routes. Here is ex- Bristol Omnibus MW5G 2522 dating from 1961, typical of those at Stroud, seen in the Bus Station during the April 2003 Running Day 3. Withdrawn in 1979, MW5Gs 2617, 2587 & 2623. Note the building to the east of London Road depot which, along with the bus depot itself, was raised to the ground for Waitrose and its car park