The Liskerrett Bus - Early Public Transport Around Liskeard, by Roger Grimley
Published privately by the author, 64 pages. A4 size staple bound booklet (N5316)
This privately published A4 size booklet provides a fascinating history of travel and transport in and around Liskeard in South-East Cornwall, and is illustrated throughout with several small black and white photographs.
From the introduction: Being a pioneer motor 'bus operator in the Liskeard district of Cornwall brought many problems. The vehicles could be temperamental and unreliable, the hilly roads were a challenge and the rough surfaces caused damage. In addition many parts of the district were sparsely populated with the edge of Bodmin Moor to the north and deep farming country elsewhere.
There was also another threat. Many early motor 'bus routes were introduced by local men. During the 1920's the arrival of the Devon Motor Transport Company signalled the start of some very aggressive competition resulting in the demise of many of the pioneers. For the next 50 years Western National, the successor to D.M.T., was the principal operator in the area. However, the increase in private car ownership after the war led to reductions in 'bus services and finally in 1971 western National withdrew many services in South East Cornwall. Local operators, who had concentrated on coach hire, filled the gaps, and once again local people ran the 'buses. The wheel had come full circle.
Liskeard (anciently Liskerrett) is an ancient municipal borough and stannary town about fourteen miles from the western boundary of Cornwall, the River Tamar, and seventeen miles from Plymouth. The name is said to come from "lys" meaning court or seat of Justice, and "Keryt", a local chief or king, suggesting that Liskeard has always been an important local administrative centre.
Early growth was fostered by the wool trade, later it became the main mineral market for south east Cornwall. By the early twentieth century it was a market and mmercial centre serving the elevated but rich and well cultivated countryside of South East Cornwall. In 1921 it had a population of about 4,400.
The town stands on a hill, the summit of which is divided into two eminences. To the east stands the church and churchyard and in the intervening valley and on the other eminence stands the chief or business portion of the town, the centre of which retains the old pattern of streets.
Originally cattle were penned and sold in the street but at the beginning of the twentieth century the market moved to a site off Dean Street. Attracting farmers and buyers from a wide area it was one of the largest in the south west. Fairs were held in October and December, cattle markets on the 2nd and 4th Monday in each month. However, Saturday was the day on which most country people came to town and then carriers' carts from Pensilva, Rilla Mill, Darite, St Cleer and North Hill were to be seen on the Parade in the centre of town. There was no public transport other than the railway on Great Market days as those attending market usually walked their livestock in or out. When motors were introduced 'buses brought country people to market but these services generally lasted as long as it took for farmers to buy cars and by the outbreak of war in 1939 most had ceased. However, on Saturdays large numbers came to town for shopping, recreation and entertainment.
Before and just after the Second World War the main road from Plymouth into south-east Cornwall was by way of the "floating bridge" ferry at Torpoint and along the A38 to Liskeard where traffic passed though the streets in the centre of the town. There was also a junction with the A390 from Tavistock and Callington. Long delays frequently occurred at Torpoint and signs were erected at Liskeard advising motorists to go via Tavistock. After the opening of the Tamar Bridge in 1961, Saltash became the main entry point into the Duchy and subsequently, a by-pass was constructed round Liskeard in the 1970's. This relieved the town of much congestion.
The condition of the booklet is generally very good. The card covers are clean and bright, the staple binding is tight and intact, and all pages are clean, intact, unblemished and tightly bound. There is a small price sticker on the rear side cover.