Len Wright Travel

Len Wright Travel

Getting to London was always a challenge. The train was never an option, even in those pre-privatised days it was a scandalous rip-off and out of our league. Unless of course you were on one of the infamous ‘Football Specials’. All the way to The Smoke for six quid return mate, but be prepared for a friendly cuff round the ear from one of God’s cops along the way. Occasionally I would get the special one-way and then hitch back. The only downside of that was that if the match was at West Ham, you ended up in some godforsaken spot like Barking at 2pm on a Saturday afternoon, which rather ate into your weekend. Hitching was fraught with danger and unpredictability and shy as I was, I found it quite easy to strike up conversations with complete strangers. If you were going on Friday it had to be the coach, and good old National Express, who as Neil Hannon noted did indeed have a jolly hostess serving crisps and tea. With a student coachcard it was about £7.50 return and they seemed to have things sewn up. Then a competitor suddenly appeared on the scene, Len Wright Travel. He operated from Ducie Street, round the back of Piccadilly Station which was a good earthy contrast to the fume-filled, stress-inducing concrete citadel of Chorlton Street coach station. I don’t think he went anywhere else, immediately cutting out all the chaos and confusion. The drop-off spot in London was also unvconventional, a car park behind Gloucester Road tube which was handy for getting out to Ealing. Len’s buses, as if in perfect harmony with the plain-speaking no-nonsense name of the company, were done out in a seventies style brown and orange livery that gave them a retro edge in comparison to National Express’ predictable red, white and blue colour scheme. Not only that but he was £1 cheaper AND most crucially showed videos, though they were never any good, usually third-rate horror flicks which you couldn’t hear properly. National Express fought back with toilets, the hostess and for a while, if you drank a lot of cans of Pepsi and collected the ring-pulls you got a free ride.

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