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The Woodman Pub and Bus Terminal.

I remember as children when we collected matchbox labels and cigarette packets that were different. We also looked for the 'Turf' cigarette packets because on the drawer were pictures, one in a packet of ten, two in a packet of twenty. We would glean these collectables from the upstairs floors of the No. 176, 177, 54s and 53s, not forgetting the 177a buses, that all parked at the Woodman pub and bus terminal.

We used to sit on the old stone horse trough that used to be situated there, along with the drinking fountain with the chained cup attached, at the front of the pub. Whist we waited there, between the arrivals and departures of the buses, we would also collect car number plate numbers. As each vehicle passed us we would add its number plate to the list of numbers already collected. It was very popular with kids in those days, when the volume of traffic was very light, even on busier roads. Imagine kids doing this hobby nowadays; they would need reams of paper and a very good grounding in speed writing, plus a bucket of water to cool the pen down occasionally!

As each bus pulled in at the Woodman the driver and conductor went off to the café. We then hopped aboard and went upstairs, where smoking was allowed. Swiftly, we'd scan the seats and floor, picking up any matchboxes or book match packets and any unusual cigarette packets. We used to find the occasional discarded daily newspaper and proudly take them home for our parents to read.
We even found the odd coin, which was very quickly converted into chewing gum from the penny Wrigley's chewing gum machine that hung on the fence outside the little café, where the buses turned around. We would check to see if the arrow was pointing forward on the knob of the chewing gum machine because, when it was, it would dispense TWO packets of gum for the price of one penny. So, if the knob was near to pointing to the front, we would wait, ever hopeful, until some one came and bought some gum, thus turning the knob and the arrow in our favour.

This café was where the bus drivers and their clippies went to have their cuppa, before they headed off again on their return route, over again.

Incidently, this yellow Wrigley's machine was found by me one morning whilst foraging down the 'ollow. There it was, all bent and battered, and broken open, lying in the long grass, minus the packets of chewing gum and the money. I told my mum and dad, who contacted the police. Shortly after a copper came and collected it. I remember him riding off on his bicycle with the machine wedged sideways on his rear carrier. Such were the thrills of the wee Common kids, yes indeed.

Colin Weightman

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