GE Brown’s coaching and garage business

In this blog we look at GE (‘Clocky’) Brown’s small coaching and motor business, which he ran from a garage on Chesterfield Road, Brimington.

We start with Doug Spencer’s look at an ex London bus, later used by Brown. This is followed by a general note on Brown’s history by Philip Cousins. Can any of our readers add to the story?

A local bus with a chequered history
Presumably taken somewhere in the Chesterfield area, is this photograph of GE Brown’s GO 5538, which started life as a double decker. (Collection Brimington and Tapton Local History Group).

Whoever would have thought that this coach operated by local operator GE Brown of Brimington was once a London double-decker?

GO 5538 started life as a Daimler CH6 number 9061, fitted with a Birch H28/24R* body number 14327 and was new in 1931 to E. Brickwood Limited trading as ‘RedLine’ (a London independent bus company). In December 1933 it was taken over by the London Passenger Transport Board and numbered DST 5, being used on service 183A (out of Harrow Weald garage). It was withdrawn in 1935 and its body used on STL1262, an AEC Regent, which in 1944 was wrecked by a flying bomb!

In March 1935 the chassis was sold to C & P Sales, London SE15; then in 1936 it was bought by Roberts of Connahs Quay and fitted with a Park Royal C31F** body. In July 1936 it was bought by Crosville Motor Services and numbered U27 and subsequently renumbered U12 in 1937.

In October 1937 the coach was bought by W. B. Wintour of London W1 and later in 1937 bought by Cleaver, Leicester.

In January 1942 it was bought by Brown of Brimington; then in March 1949 it was bought by Mellor of Enderby and by September 1949 by Graveling & Woolton of Upper Benefield, Northamptonshire. There we lose track of it – unless, of course, anybody knows different!

* H(ighbridge) 28 seats in the upper saloon and 24 in the lower R(ear entrance)

** C(oach) 31 seats F(orward entrance)

Reference ‘Ian’s Bus Stop’

This account was first published in newsletter number 37 (February 2010) of the North East Derbyshire Industrial Archaeology Society.

A note about GE Brown

A George Edward Brown is mentioned as a cycle dealer at Church Street, Brimington and also motor engineer at Chesterfield Road in Kelly’s 1932 Directory of Derbyshire. In the previous edition (1928), he was listed solely as a cycle dealer at Church Street. By the time of the last Kelly’s directory to cover Brimington, in 1941, he still maintains his 1933 listing.

According to trade directories Brown had previously been a watch-repairer from his Church Street house – he was actually listed in directories as a ‘watch-maker’. Brown is listed solely as this in Kelly’s 1922 directory – he had first appeared, again as a ‘watch-maker’, in Kelly’s directory of 1895, So, he must have commenced business around 1895 as a ‘watch-maker’, moved into cycle repairs around 1922, then to cycle repairs and motor mechanics, with premises on Chesterfield Road, between 1928 and 1932. No reference to Brown operating timetabled bus services has currently been found. He appears to have concentrated solely on the coaching business and probably never had a very extensive fleet.

We know Brown was operating at least one coach in 1932 as the Derbyshire Times of 6 August reports on an accident at Stockport involving a coach of his and a steam wagon. The article was accompanied by a photograph which shows extensive damage to the coach. Brown’s address is given as Church Street, Brimington; he is described as ‘bus proprietor’.

Ten years later, the Derbyshire Times of 5 June 1942 has a sale notice for ‘Brown’s Garage’ which included machinery, tools, stock-in-trade cars, lorries a Fordson tractor and other effects. The proprietor was reported as giving up the business. At the time this also included two petrol pumps and three tanks at the garage. According to the Derbyshire Times of 5 June 1942, the garage itself was withdrawn at £1,200, but the sale had attracted much interest. It is perhaps noteworthy that coaches or buses are not mentioned in the sale. The Derbyshire Times of 18 May 1945 records that GE Brown, of Church Street, Brimington, purchased a semi-detached bungalow on Langer Lane, Chesterfield, for £975. What significance this had on his business arrangements is not known.

One must imagine that Brown’s interest in watches had then expanded to cycles, then to the motor car. His early career in watchmaking had apparently left him with the nick-name ‘Clocky’ Brown. His Church Street business was carried out from his house, believed to be the last one in the terraced row next to the Brimington church-yard (which is attached to the parish church on Church Street).

His garage, on a corner of Chesterfield Road, was latterly occupied by the Riverside Motor Company, for car sales, until they relocated to Storforth Lane Trading Estate in 2020. The premises are now empty – they are to be the site of an entrance road to a new housing development.

An unanswered question

This all leaves us with something of question. If Brown was wanting to sell his garage in 1942 what was to happen to the coaching business and where would he be operating from? And why would he have purchased the coach only few months before the sale? Perhaps he was selling the garage to concentrate on coaching? Over to our readers if you can supply any of the answers.

The former Chesterfield Road, Brimington premises of GE Brown. When this photograph was taken in June 2019 it was occupied by the Riverside Motor Company.

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