A Ticket to Ride

Restoration work on Cleethorpes 54 yielded 155 'Bell Punch' type tickets, issued during the period 1937 to 1955. Most were discovered pushed down backs of seats and it is tempting to wonder whether any were put there by someone reading this article today! Tickets issued by Grimsby, by Cleethorpes and joint issues were found: the colours of some have faded but others are in good condition. These old-style tickets have serial numbers across the top and many pairs of tickets were found together with the occasional group of three. They provide some fascinating memories of what life was like 55-70 years ago.


Originally two tickets were issued on journeys crossing the Borough boundary. Thus a short cross-boundary journey was very expensive until 'overlap' joint tickets were introduced in the late 1940s or early 1950s. During the Second World War Grimsby Corporation bus services 3, 8 and 9 wre cut back from Riby Square to Town Hall Street and transfer tickets were introduced. It was possible to transfer from a diesel bus to a trolleybus and vice-versa but not from a trolleybus to a trolleybus or from a bus to a bus. Double workman's returns allowed the holder to travel home for lunch between noon and 14.00, and a double transfer workman's return gave good value: eight journeys for 6d was possible.

Grimsby tickets

The Grimsby tickets can be divided into a number of groups, although they all carry the imprint "Bell Punch Company, London". The oldest tickets carry the value of the ticket and the words "Grimsby Corporation Transport" as part of the design together with written place names. The 1½d (blue) lists Old Market, Corporation Rd, Weelsby Road, Riby Square, Park Street and Humber Street whilst the 2d (red) shows Old Market and Park Street only, suggesting that this was the maximum fare on the Grimsby trolleybus system. There is also a 1d ticket (punched twice) bearing "Town Hall Street to Riby Square" on the left, with the return journey on the right. The caption "this ticket can only be used in conjunction with route 8 & 9 return tickets" shows that the user travelled into Grimsby on one of the Corporation’s out-of-town bus services, finishing his journey by trolleybus. The 1d child shows Old Market, Weelsby Road, Riby Square and Park Street.

Of interest are some of the advertisements on the backs of these tickets. The 1d child tickets carry "Important: salvage saves lives as well as paper" and "Save gas for victory – Great Grimsby Gas Co". Amongst the 1½d tickets we find "Gas and coke for warmth without smoke – Great Grimsby Gas Co" and "The religion of determined friendship at the Salvation Army, Duncombe Street" whilst the 2d ticket shows "Gas never lets you down in peace or in war – Great Grimsby Gas Co". The 1d ticket, on the other hand, carries an advertisement for Steven "sun" bread.

Other Grimsby Corporation Transport tickets carry a column of numbers down each side, 1-10 and 11-20 instead of place names and the fare is overprinted in red or green. The values are 1½d and 2d, plus 2d and 3d Workers Return which also show the six weekdays. Advertisements include:

"For the Best Quality Fish shop at C.W. Cribb & Sons, 34 Bethlehem St, Grimsby".
"Don’t hope for the best – come to Tates and get it". (It doesn’t say what). [In fact, Tates were grocers established before 1900 and still have supermarkets in Cleethorpes].
"Peakes Creamytop pasteurised milk". [Peakes Dairies were eventually taken over by Clover Dairies which in turn were taken over by Northern Dairies].
"Beeston domestic boilers – economical hot water always". and
"Don’t forget Blakey’s Malted Oatmeal, famous for 60 years, the all round family food". There is a picture of mother and baby and the words "My baby loves it".

G.C.T motor omnibus tickets

Perhaps the most curious tickets to be found on a Cleethorpes trolleybus are three which carry the legend "G.C.T. Motor Omnibus Service". All show 32 fare stages and have the fare overprinted in red outline. One shows the value 1d (and is the only Grimsby ticket without an advertisement), one cost 1½d (and advertises Clover Milk) whilst the other is a 2d Workers Return. Its vintage is revealed by the slogan "Save Gas for Victory" on the reverse and perhaps it was issued with the 1d return ticket mentioned above

G.C.T. transfer tickets

There are four values of tickets incorporating "transfer sections", namely the 1d child, 1½d (blue), 2d (yellow) and 2½d (red?). Tickets would allow passengers to transfer from bus to trolleybus services without being required to purchase a second ticket. This facility must have been extremely popular as over 50 transfer tickets have survived, many as pairs. The 1½d was the most common and was produced in two versions which differed in the street names listed. The most common version of the 1½d ticket listed the following transfer sections:

  • Littlef’d Lne, Ainslie Street, Wheatsheaf
  • Fare’r St. via Ainslie St. or Nuns Corner
  • Durban Road to Humber St.
  • Durban Rd. to Hainton Av.
  • Gilbey Rd. or Lord St. to Central Mkt.
  • Old Market to Riby Square
  • Old Market to Corporation R
  • Humber St to Park St
  • Hainton Av. To Riby Square
  • Central Mkt to Riby Sq. or Old Market

These tickets carry a wide range of advertisements. Great Grimsby Gas Co. advertised with the following slogans:

"In lighting fires Use a Gas Poker and Save Wood & Paper".
"Be up-to-date in your New Home Use Gas".
"Gas and coke for warmth without smoke". and
"Gas for Comfort with Economy".

Advertisements for domestic appliances and for basic foods were popular:

"Fred W. Wood Ltd – your Murphy dealer – 24a Bull Ring, Grimsby".
"The Bendix Automatic Home Laundry ends washday work. Agents: Fred W. Wood Ltd, 18 Old Market Place".
"You’ll Get Service and Civility at Wray’s Stores, 96 Farebrother St, Grimsby".
"Central attraction – Steven "sun" bread. F.W. Stevenson Ltd, Heneage Rd, Grimsby".
"Make Procea your daily bread. Baked and Supplied by Glentons" [Stevenson and Glentons were originally taken over by the large bakeries].
"Fulljoy bread and cakes – Glentons". (Two designs).
"Sunfed milk from Clover Dairies".
"Clover Dairies Ltd, New England Siding, Grimsby".

And does anyone remember the following?

"For fitness all men wear "Litesome" supporter, from outfitters, chemists etc. Fred Hurtley Ltd, Keighley, Yorks".
"Medical & Hygenic Requisites of every Description. York Medical & Surgical Co. 4 South St Marys Gate, Grimsby. Appointed official suppliers under the National Health Service".

Cleethorpes tickets

Over 70 Cleethorpes Corporation tickets were recovered, all were printed with the value as part of the design but some in addition had the value and/or "C" overprinted in red. Single-journey tickets were of one basic design and carried no printer’s name or place names, merely a column of numbers down each side, 1-10 and 10-1. The five values of adult single ticket that were found were the 1d (brown?), 1½d (blue), 2d (red), 2½d (mauve?) and 3d (green). Two values of child tickets, ½d (green) and 1d, were found.

Workers Return cost 2d (red) or 2½d. All seven days and "Return Journey" are listed down the left hand side and each ticket is overprinted with a large "X" in black. An extremely interesting ticket is a 6d D.W.R (red), the design of which incorporates boxes marked "2nd", "3rd" and "4th" and which is punched four times.

The most prolific advertiser on Cleethorpes tickets was Littlewoods Football Pools, using four slogans: "Leaders for 27 years", "Don’t forget to post your Littlewoods", "Send for particulars to Littlewoods, Liverpool" and "Worlds largest and best". Other advertisers were Glenton’s Ltd ("Fulljoy bread and cakes"), Clover Dairies ("Sunfed Milk"), Turners of Highgate, Cleethorpes ("for all drapery"), Tates and "Evening Glory Shampoo". Many Cleethorpes tickets did not carry advertisements.

Joint Grimsby-Cleethorpes tickets

A pair of 1½d (yellow?) tickets were found which carry the words "Grimsby and Cleethorpes Corporation Transport Departments". Passengers were "entitled to travel to section indicated by punch-hole", these sections being:

  • Hainton Avenue to Clee Crescent
  • Riby Square to Blundell Av.
  • Blundell Av. To Riby Square
  • Clee Crescent to Hainton Avenue

These must have been issued prior to 1955 because both Grimsby and Cleethorpes are reported to have changed over from hand-punched to machine-issued tickets on 1 February 1955. Maybe each municipality had their own tickets of this new type but none have been found. To passengers the merger on 1 January 1957 meant the issue of one ticket instead of two on services crossing the Borough boundary and a slight reduction in workers’ fares between the two towns.

Machine-issued tickets were printed by Bell Punch Co. Ltd, London and bore the title "Grimsby Cleethorpes Trans." Four tickets survived, one each of 1d, 3d, 4d and 5d. Tates advertised on two of them, using the same slogan as in pre-merger days, but the other advertisements were new: "Compare Alge’s wallpaper prices" and "Grimsby Motors – Austin sales and service at Eleanor Street". It is probable that this type of ticket was in use until the end of trolleybus operation.

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