Bartons News


James Walker at Left Lion listened to poetry in Barton's bus depot...

Categories // Bartons News

Oxjam Beeston Takeover 2011

Following article is taken from an article on the LeftLion website.

oxjam-beeston2smI’ve been to some pretty weird places before for poetry events but the venue for Oxjam’s Beeston Takeover on Saturday 22 October was certainly my favourite to date. It was a dusty, cold building called Barton House and was filled with beautiful bright buses from the past century. It was here that Thomas Henry Barton started off his first service between Long Eaton and the Goose Fair, back in October 1908 but today the visitors were here to see Candlestick Press, DIY Poets, Wes White and a collaboration between LeftLion and the Nottingham Writers’ Studio. There were many highlights, some of which we’ve recorded below, but I was particularly impressed with Robin Vaughn Williams poem about an orange girl and John Micallef’s take on Gil Scott-Heron’s The Revolution Will Not Be Televised. But it wasn’t all poetry as Niki Valentine swung by to give a reading from her new novel The Haunting, which we were eager to get our hands on having had to wait a whole two years and seven months since her last novel Starfishing. You can catch Niki and the Nottingham Writers’ Studio at 7.30pm on 31 October at the Broadway Cinema as part of the Mayhem Horror Festival for a spooky special Word of Mouth.

We’ve sat back and watched with delight as MulletProofPoet has established himself on the poetry circuit. Here, he reads The Galleries of Justice League, where he imagines what super heroes would be doing with their bat mobiles if they lived in Nottingham. MPP will have his first collection, Citizen Kaned, published by Crystal Clear Creators in February 2011 and we can’t wait for more of his cheeky slurs on contemporary culture.

Aly Stoneman , our Poetry Ed and recent winner of the Nottingham Poetry Society Slam, read Distant Star, homage to her childhood home of Devon. Aly will be reading at our Gunpowder, Treason and Pot event at the Nottingham Contemporary on 4 November. She also has her first collection, Lost Lands, published with Crystal Clear Creators in February 2011.

Sue Dymoke was an appropriate poet having formerly worked for Oxfam. Here she reads two poems inspired from a recent visit to Auckland, New Zealand. The first, Getting Rid, was inspired by an Auckland tradition in which people turf out all of their unwanted rubbish on to the street for people to collect as and when needed (or what we know locally as bin day.) The second poem is completely comprised of sayings found in Aunt Daisey’s Book of Handy Hints which was left to the friend’s she was staying with. Hearing a poem contain the line ‘being wary of pussy willow’ and ‘renewing mouldy pudding’ is something I never expected to hear. Then again, I never thought I’d be listening to poetry in a bus depot.

James Walker's website


Old Bartons photo sparks Coronation parade remake

Categories // Bartons News

A Nottingham Evening Post Article

1908 bartons charabanc

Taken from a post on the This is Nottingham website.

"FOR Nicky Clarke it was never just about the buses."

His love was for Barton's as a whole – the buses and haulage lorries, the smells, sounds and red livery of a successful transport company that employed about 1,000 people and was long embedded in the lives of people in Chilwell and Beeston. It all started when he was a boy.

At the end of school every Friday afternoon Nicky used to pop in to see his grandmother and then continue on to the big Barton's garage in Chilwell High Road, where he would spend a couple of happy hours playing on the buses in the workshop at the back.

He was in good hands since his grandfather Chippy Atkinson - full-name Charles Rupert Woodhouse Atkinson – was garage foreman there, in charge of the 200 mechanics and maintenance crew who looked after the Barton's fleet.

He was a key man in the operation of a home-grown independent transport business that operated national coach services and even ran a haulage fleet of 70 lorries transporting freight as far afield as the Middle East.

Yet despite success and a long history of running bus services that was started by Thomas Henry Barton in the 1890s, the Government's introduction of national bus deregulation in 1985 persuaded the Barton family to sell its transport operation a few years later.

Today, the Barton's company is still based at Chilwell High Road, where it now maintains a fleet of vintage vehicles and runs arts events on an extensive area of land that was once home to the buses and lorries of Britain's largest independent transport company.

One day, a neighbour of Nicky Clarke's, John Moule, who shares his interest in Bartons, showed him some old photographs he had owned for a few years.

One, in black and white, showed an old-fashioned charabanc bus parked in front of the Barton's garage. The garage was decorated with bunting and a picture of the Queen.

The bus was also loaded with passengers for what seems to have been a special 1953 Coronation parade and at the front, winding the bus starting handle, was Nicky's grandfather Chippy Atkinson.

Of the other 11 people in the bus only four are unknown and this high recognition count means that over the Diamond Jubilee weekend of June 2-5 an attempt will be made to recreate the Coronation parade using living relatives of the original passengers.

Nicky Clarke will play his grandfather on the charging handle while descendants of the passengers are to be traced by Simon Barton, fifth generation descendant of Thomas Henry Barton and managing director of Barton's.

The company no longer runs fleets of buses and lorries but still owns the Chilwell Road property and keeps vintage vehicles, including the rare and perhaps unique 1911 Daimler charabanc. Although the charabanc body was a 1953 reproduction of an original Edwardian style, it is the same bus that took generations of Nottingham children on Christmas trips and vintage-theme days out.

Nicky Clarke has colour photographs of himself, as a boy, having a birthday party in the same bus in the 1970s.

Bartons also owns a vintage bus similar to the one parked behind the charabanc in the photograph and this is likewise going to take part in the modern parade.

As for the driver and passengers: Simon Barton can name six of them and believes he can persuade their descendants to take part in the jubilee parade. Three of the six were Barton's: the driver, Tom; Murray, who is wearing the light suit towards the back; and Carl, the one in the black hat standing on the step on the far side of the bus.

"The family is all around the world with 103 living descendants but I believe I can find them," he says.

The other three he can name were Len Cooke, Barton's chargehand joiner Lance Taylor and a Mr Broomfield. The other five in the bus cannot be recognised because their features are obscured.

But there is no problem recognising Nicky Clarke's grandfather and when Nicky puts on an old Barton's coat and bends down to grasp the charabanc starting handle, smiling like Chippy Atkinson did in the old photo, Simon Barton laughs at the resemblance.

Although Nicky is now older than his grandfather was then, it is Chippy - forever frozen in time as he turns his face to the camera – who somehow looks older than Nicky.

Chippy looks like old men used to look, rather than a man still in his best years.

"He was 43 then when that picture was taken and I'm 48 now," says Nicky.

"He had worked at Chilwell depot during the war but then came to Barton's and was here for 50 years, starting as an electrical engineer and working his way up to garage foreman."

Chippy didn't live to see the sale of the Barton's bus company; he died in 1980, aged 70. Nine years later, the company where he had worked all of his life was sold and eventually became Trent Barton.

Nicky, grown from the boy who used to love mucking around at the Barton's garage after school, went on to run his own small haulage company.

In his spare time, he rebuilt a haulage lorry and finished it in perfect red Barton's livery for proud display at vintage transport rallies. Model-makers Corgi even produced a miniature version of it.

But where was the 1953 Coronation parade going?

"My guess is that they were going to Long Eaton, where they would have swung round the Green," says Simon Barton. "That was the first bus route in Nottingham, the first bus route in the area. It was Barton's that established the first permanent bus services in Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire."

Simon's proud comments about the past triumphs of his family's business are a reminder that recreating a nice 1953 Coronation photograph isn't just about nostalgia or love of vintage vehicles.

For him, this is also about reminding people how a local business can, or should, become deeply intertwined with, and draw strength from, the local people and the character of an area.

"There were 200 garage staff here but the company had 1,000 people working for it altogether, including 600 or 700 drivers and conductors," says Simon. "The company was so much part of the community here that this end of Beeston used to be known as Barton's."

As for the Diamond Jubilee parade and photograph - while the vehicles are all present, and the passengers are being traced, the only item in the original photograph that might be missing from the parade in June is the picture of the Queen that was hanging on the front of the Bartons garage in 1953.

"And someone said that we could solve that problem if we had the real Queen here," says Simon.


T.H.Barton OBE – what would he say?

Categories // Bartons News

Mr Malcolm Webb wrote eloquently and justifiably in your last edition, lamenting the tram’s extension to Chilwell causing the destruction of trees, homes and a farm, and asking Trent Barton

‘Just think if your great-grandad was here, what would he say to you?

th barton obeI believe Mr Webb is referring to T.H. Barton, and as one of his very many great grandsons and great granddaughters, I am probably as qualified of any of his descendents would be to know what he might say.

Especially as I have the singular privilege of writing from THB’s own office desk and chair, in the head-quarters building he built, the fourth generation Barton doing the managing director’s job he created, and with his genes in my blood, and many of his possessions around me.

In my opinion he would say:

‘ Some of the fine and ancient farmland over which the tram will enter Chilwell was my dear eldest son’s, Tom’s; bought when the bus business we built up from nothing together finally had the money to pay him properly for the previously 20 or more years of freely invested toil.’

The cherished farm was sadly to be compulsory purchased after the Second World War for less than it had been bought for; cynically, the council then used the land for residential development.

Of the houses on High Road Chilwell and Chilwell Road he would say,

‘Goodbye to my garden at 58, where I fired up experimental engines; goodbye to my dear daughter’s land at 38, 40 an 42, goodbye to the low tubular metal fence that children to this day walk along holding their mother’s hands in front of Barton House, and the long lost front gardens of our houses beside Barton House. And goodbye to Mary’s and my old home and our old head office on the corner of Ellis Grove, where my family of 10 moved to Beeston from my dear, native Derbyshire hills. Where the girls made stockings to support the boys and the buses in their infancy, when we had no money but just a good idea and indomitable determination.’

‘And what of my old Garage and Works, amongst the biggest the country ever saw, where redevelopment has been consistently resisted by the local Council since 1947 when they said it was ‘premature’.

‘If town centre brownfield sites are not required for development, then surely no possible argument can be made for building on green fields? Stand up to them lad, you’re a Barton.’

Of central Beeston, a town described in the 1920s as a ‘beautiful residential town’ he would say

‘See what your grandiose town planning got you here’

Of University Boulevard, now desecrated, THB would say this:

‘Remember when Alderman Huntsman, (who was Jesse Boot’s solicitor) came to me and persuaded me to give up the option I had to buy Highfields House, because together Boot and Huntsman had a great plan, which was eventually to become the University of Nottingham, Highfields Park (‘for the people of Nottingham, forever’) and University Boulevard. ‘

‘And I gave up that option to my respected friend in return for just a charitable donation, because their idea was an even grander one than mine - but happily included the building of the road I wanted so my buses would not have to grind their weary way up Adams Hill.’

He would look the current trustees of Highfields Leisure Park Trust in the eye and get an answer to this:

‘What on earth have you allowed to happen to Jesse Boot’s Great Gift to the People of Nottingham?’

‘Where has the Leisure Park at Highfields gone?’

‘How can it be that it has been built upon?’

‘What money the trust must have made from this! Where is that money now?’

But he would also make this point:

Barton motor buses were freely chosen in vast numbers over trams and trains by passengers when they were given the option to use their own money as they saw fit. The service was, and was always intended to be, ‘the cheapest and the best’. Even now, 23 years on after the company left the industry they had been pioneers in creating, people still remember with real affection the level of service that had been consistently provided for generations. And the rewarding, happy jobs provided for local people in their thousands.

So if Thomas Henry Barton OBE was here now (and if you were with me as I sit late at night in a silent building he built, that operated for nearly 80 years, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, through wars, strikes , an earlier Great Depression and an abdication, you’d find it hard to believe he is not here, I believe he’d say this:

‘The business we in Beeston built up, although it is no longer ours, will continue, and with deserved local support, to prosper. It is a superb service, far in advance of anything even I had envisaged with my foresight when I set up with one vehicle with solid tyres and open sides.  

That the tram was conceived in 1988 by politicians not transport operators, and then we were destabilised and picked off, is history. To build the tram was inevitable as the people concerned will never learn. Do not waste your breath to discuss the matter; it was ever going to be thus. No protests would have prevented it; protests would have just used up valuable resources and energy and disheartened us.

So let the City build it, using money other than our own.

Let it be built quickly and efficiently and well, and with not the slightest thought of hindrance from us.

And, as the once Queen of the Midlands creaks under its mountains of debt, debt that is to be foisted without choice on future generations of businesses and children as yet unborn, let Beeston build itself up, free from such folly.

Let Beeston be strong, confident, defiant.

And when the moment is right and they see the financial result of their vanity, and come to us to ask us to join up with them to pay for their ill-conceived strategies, we’ll say ‘No thanks, we’re from Beeston, a fine old town. We like our buses, thank you very much, we pretty much invented them, you see, with help from a strange, dear old chap called Barton who washed up here out of the blue with his family in 1908, and changed the way we lived out of all recognition and for the better’

But if you find you want to see how we do things around here, to see our fine old town and the exuberant renaissance we are experiencing, by all means come. You will be most welcome.

Feel free to use your tram – that is, of course , if you find you can afford it’


Simon Barton
Managing Director Bartons plc (b 1960 Beeston)      

pp    T.H. Barton OBE
Managing Director Barton Transport Limited (b 1866 Duffield)

Barton House, Chilwell, Nottinghamshire


Simon Barton has made the front pages of the Beeston Express

Categories // Bartons News

Tram, Wellglade, Trent Barton confusion

The recent and heartbreaking tree removal process in relation to the Nottingham Tram extension (NET phase 2) to Chilwell has brought to my attention some unfortunate but understandable confusion in people’s minds which has arisen between ‘Bartons’, and one of the new tram consortium’s operators.

I believe I can clear up this confusion quite easily and hopefully nip it in the bud.

Wellglade (for whom, by the way, I have no authority to speak) are one of six members who will construct and operate the tram and its extensions. They are a local, independent East Midlands based company that own bus firms, including arguably one of the UK’s most successful, Trent Barton, that provides many services through Beeston, including ‘Indigo’

The ‘Barton’ bit of that name comes from 1989 purchase by Wellglade of the legendary bus operations of Chilwell’s Barton Transport in 1989. Wellglade had been formed to acquire the bus operations of Derbyshire’s Trent Motor Traction Limited in 1986, which were being ‘privatised’ after a period of nationalised ownership. Trent and Barton had previously competed on cordial terms on neighbouring and some shared routes for over 70 years. As such, the two operators, one based in Derbyshire and one in Nottinghamshire were an obvious and successful fit in single ownership. Be it that the ownership of the combined business is Wellgalde’s, and not Bartons, was down to a twist of fate back in 1988.

As such, I am pleased to clear up that Bartons plc of Chilwell has no connection with Trent Barton, or Wellglade , and therefore has no connection of any kind to the City of Nottingham’s tram.

Bartons plc’s only connection to transport is through our retained, extensive and world-class historical transport archive housed at Bartons in Chilwell.


The Bartons Treasures

Categories // Bartons News

'This is Nottingham' - Article

The head of a bus firm has revealed his hope to devote part of his site to housing treasures from the county's past. Simon Barton, managing director of Bartons plc, said the city should be proud of its past - and that if the local authorities could not afford to keep museums open, he would be happy to take the artefacts for display as part of a cultural exhibition.

simon bartonHe points to closures and cuts at museums like Brewhouse Yard, the Industrial Museum at Wollaton Hall and the Lace Centre in the city centre.

Mr Barton said: "I can understand why councils may find it hard to keep certain attractions open in the face of budget cuts, but we find ourselves in a position where we can intervene and help.

"There must be hundreds if not thousands of items that are either stuck in archives or in museums that have been closed down. And what I'm saying is that we have a ten-acre site and great access to the area, and I would be delighted to house them to put them on display until such a time as they have the space and funding to house them again."

The site of Bartons plc, on the High Road, Chilwell, lies on the route of the new tram line which will run between the city centre, Beeston and Chilwell. Currently, it is used as a space for art exhibitions and other events.

Mr Barton added that he thought it was a "real shame" that more wasn't done to promote the county's heritage.
He added: "It's just a case of getting round the table and talking about the ideas we have."

"This isn't just an idea we've had on a whim – it's something we're seriously considering and looking at how it could work."

Councillor Dave Trimble, city council portfolio holder for leisure, tourism and communities, said: "The city council agrees absolutely about the importance of Nottingham and Nottinghamshire's local history and heritage and we welcome offers of support by all other enthusiasts and supporters. However, accreditation by the national bodies that govern museum standards is also paramount if we are to continue to attract additional funding and support to improve our collections.

"The help of enthusiast and volunteers has enabled us to increase the opening hours of the Industrial Museum. Our intention is to seek similar community support for the Museum of Nottingham Life [at Brewhouse Yard] – the museum is not closing. Our proposal is for the museum to continue to be available for pre-booked school parties and for other groups of ten or more, when booked in advance, and will still be open to the public for special events."

From an article on the 'This is Nottingham' Website.

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