A BUS NAMED HENRY WICKER.


This year marks the 400-year anniversary of the discovery of Epsom Salts (1618), in the waters bubbling up from the ground in a local farmer's field - now called The Wells estate.

A painting of the well building in 1795
A painting of the well building in 1795
Image courtesy of Bourne Hall Museum

Epsom & Ewell's latest "Borough Insight" magazine (Issue 71) contains a very detailed account of the discovery of Epsom Salts by farmer Henry Wicker in 1618 on Epsom Common. Today, in 2018, Epsom & Ewell celebrates "Epsom Spa 400". How does this connect with modern day Buses?

Well, in the mid-1980s London Country Bus Services Ltd. (LCBS) was a large bus operator in our area and their smart green and white buses were seen on the roads of Surrey and further afield, our local LCBS garage being at Leatherhead. LCBS could trace its history right back to the original East Surrey Traction Company Ltd. and the later London Transport Country Area buses and Green Line coaches. By the early 1990s our country buses had become London & Country Ltd. and a smart new green livery adopted.

In the mid-1980s the earlier LCBS had given names to some of its Leyland Olympian double-deck buses, these having bodywork built by Roe. The names were in gold/black applied just below the windscreens. One such bus was named "Henry Wicker" and could be seen hard at work on busy routes like the 406 between Epsom and Kingston. This bus was fleet number LR47 with registration number A147 FPG.

By the way the other named Leyland Olympians were: LR13 William de Warenne, and LR26 Wolonestede, and LR48 Preston Hawe.

It's interesting to note that sister-bus Leyland Olympian LR13 was later painted into a special silver livery to promote Surrey County Council. Other Leyland Olympians were painted into advertisement liveries such as Drummond Centre, Radio Mercury, Wates Homes, Tradesmen Maintenance Services, Homes in Epsom, Ashley Shopping Centre Epsom, Mixamate, and Pandora Glaze. Hoping that these notes might help a little, and I feel sure that Henry Wicker would be proud to have had a bus named after him and for his medical findings.

An Olympian heads through Beggars Hill towards Kingston.
An Olympian heads through Beggars Hill towards Kingston.
Note the trend for using buses for advertising purposes.
Image courtesy of Bourne Hall Museum

Peter Lemon, March 2018