Articles tagged with: Chippy Atkinson


Old Bartons photo sparks Coronation parade remake

Categories // Bartons News

A Nottingham Evening Post Article

1908 bartons charabanc

Taken from a post on the This is Nottingham website.

"FOR Nicky Clarke it was never just about the buses."

His love was for Barton's as a whole – the buses and haulage lorries, the smells, sounds and red livery of a successful transport company that employed about 1,000 people and was long embedded in the lives of people in Chilwell and Beeston. It all started when he was a boy.

At the end of school every Friday afternoon Nicky used to pop in to see his grandmother and then continue on to the big Barton's garage in Chilwell High Road, where he would spend a couple of happy hours playing on the buses in the workshop at the back.

He was in good hands since his grandfather Chippy Atkinson - full-name Charles Rupert Woodhouse Atkinson – was garage foreman there, in charge of the 200 mechanics and maintenance crew who looked after the Barton's fleet.

He was a key man in the operation of a home-grown independent transport business that operated national coach services and even ran a haulage fleet of 70 lorries transporting freight as far afield as the Middle East.

Yet despite success and a long history of running bus services that was started by Thomas Henry Barton in the 1890s, the Government's introduction of national bus deregulation in 1985 persuaded the Barton family to sell its transport operation a few years later.

Today, the Barton's company is still based at Chilwell High Road, where it now maintains a fleet of vintage vehicles and runs arts events on an extensive area of land that was once home to the buses and lorries of Britain's largest independent transport company.

One day, a neighbour of Nicky Clarke's, John Moule, who shares his interest in Bartons, showed him some old photographs he had owned for a few years.

One, in black and white, showed an old-fashioned charabanc bus parked in front of the Barton's garage. The garage was decorated with bunting and a picture of the Queen.

The bus was also loaded with passengers for what seems to have been a special 1953 Coronation parade and at the front, winding the bus starting handle, was Nicky's grandfather Chippy Atkinson.

Of the other 11 people in the bus only four are unknown and this high recognition count means that over the Diamond Jubilee weekend of June 2-5 an attempt will be made to recreate the Coronation parade using living relatives of the original passengers.

Nicky Clarke will play his grandfather on the charging handle while descendants of the passengers are to be traced by Simon Barton, fifth generation descendant of Thomas Henry Barton and managing director of Barton's.

The company no longer runs fleets of buses and lorries but still owns the Chilwell Road property and keeps vintage vehicles, including the rare and perhaps unique 1911 Daimler charabanc. Although the charabanc body was a 1953 reproduction of an original Edwardian style, it is the same bus that took generations of Nottingham children on Christmas trips and vintage-theme days out.

Nicky Clarke has colour photographs of himself, as a boy, having a birthday party in the same bus in the 1970s.

Bartons also owns a vintage bus similar to the one parked behind the charabanc in the photograph and this is likewise going to take part in the modern parade.

As for the driver and passengers: Simon Barton can name six of them and believes he can persuade their descendants to take part in the jubilee parade. Three of the six were Barton's: the driver, Tom; Murray, who is wearing the light suit towards the back; and Carl, the one in the black hat standing on the step on the far side of the bus.

"The family is all around the world with 103 living descendants but I believe I can find them," he says.

The other three he can name were Len Cooke, Barton's chargehand joiner Lance Taylor and a Mr Broomfield. The other five in the bus cannot be recognised because their features are obscured.

But there is no problem recognising Nicky Clarke's grandfather and when Nicky puts on an old Barton's coat and bends down to grasp the charabanc starting handle, smiling like Chippy Atkinson did in the old photo, Simon Barton laughs at the resemblance.

Although Nicky is now older than his grandfather was then, it is Chippy - forever frozen in time as he turns his face to the camera – who somehow looks older than Nicky.

Chippy looks like old men used to look, rather than a man still in his best years.

"He was 43 then when that picture was taken and I'm 48 now," says Nicky.

"He had worked at Chilwell depot during the war but then came to Barton's and was here for 50 years, starting as an electrical engineer and working his way up to garage foreman."

Chippy didn't live to see the sale of the Barton's bus company; he died in 1980, aged 70. Nine years later, the company where he had worked all of his life was sold and eventually became Trent Barton.

Nicky, grown from the boy who used to love mucking around at the Barton's garage after school, went on to run his own small haulage company.

In his spare time, he rebuilt a haulage lorry and finished it in perfect red Barton's livery for proud display at vintage transport rallies. Model-makers Corgi even produced a miniature version of it.

But where was the 1953 Coronation parade going?

"My guess is that they were going to Long Eaton, where they would have swung round the Green," says Simon Barton. "That was the first bus route in Nottingham, the first bus route in the area. It was Barton's that established the first permanent bus services in Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire."

Simon's proud comments about the past triumphs of his family's business are a reminder that recreating a nice 1953 Coronation photograph isn't just about nostalgia or love of vintage vehicles.

For him, this is also about reminding people how a local business can, or should, become deeply intertwined with, and draw strength from, the local people and the character of an area.

"There were 200 garage staff here but the company had 1,000 people working for it altogether, including 600 or 700 drivers and conductors," says Simon. "The company was so much part of the community here that this end of Beeston used to be known as Barton's."

As for the Diamond Jubilee parade and photograph - while the vehicles are all present, and the passengers are being traced, the only item in the original photograph that might be missing from the parade in June is the picture of the Queen that was hanging on the front of the Bartons garage in 1953.

"And someone said that we could solve that problem if we had the real Queen here," says Simon.