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End of the road for Benny after 50 years on the buses

By Gordon Calder

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Benny has seen many changes during his 50 years as a bus driver.
Benny has seen many changes during his 50 years as a bus driver.

A CAITHNESS bus driver has reached the end of the road after 50 years' service. Benny Geddes, who lives in Castletown, retires officially on Friday after a half a century on the buses.

During his time as a driver, Benny (76) clocked up "quite a few million miles" taking passengers all over the far north and down to Inverness, Edinburgh, Glasgow and London as well as trips to Ireland and Europe.

He started work with Highland Omnibuses in Thurso on July 29, 1969, after spending seven years working at Dounreay.

"An opportunity came up on the buses and I got the job and started work four days after passing my test. It is a move I have never regretted," Benny said.

He spent 20 years with Highland Omnibuses and also worked with Tayside Travel, National Express, Rapsons and latterly Stagecoach.

Over the years Benny has seen many changes in the industry.

He explained: "When I started there was no power steering or brake assistance for the clutch. It was more physically demanding to drive the buses then. There were some semi-automatic vehicles but they were mostly double-deckers. By the early 1970s things were different and the buses were easier to drive."

This was the bus in which Benny sat his test 50 years ago.
This was the bus in which Benny sat his test 50 years ago.

When Benny started driving, conductors and conductresses took the passengers' fares but they were gradually phased out as buses became driver-operated only.

He said: "We rarely had a breakdown with Highland as there was not so much electrics on the buses then. Now there's a lot more and that can cause them to break down.

"There was also a lot of mechanics in those days. We must have had a staff of about 70 in Caithness but now there must be about 30 at the most."

Looking back on his career, he said: "The 50 years have just flown by, but I enjoyed it. I enjoy driving and meeting different people and going to different places.

"I have been all round Britain and have driven buses in Norway, Denmark and Sweden as well as in Holland and in France. I have enjoyed the different experiences."

Asked if he had any idea how many miles he has travelled in his time on the buses, Benny replied: "It is impossible to know but it must be quite a few million."

He and his wife Liz have four of a family – Lorna, Graeme, Angela and Andrew. Now retired, Benny intends to relax. "I love my garden and will spend as much time as I can in it."

He also plans a holiday in Blackpool in October but added: "I will leave the driving to someone else and just sit back and enjoy the trip."

Benny earlier in his bus-driving career.
Benny earlier in his bus-driving career.

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