With the surge in online shopping in recent years, courier firms now abound to deliver those purchases. But in the past you could also send parcels by bus.

A copy of the 1949 edition of London Transport’s Local Road & Rail Timetable for Woking and District said: “Outside the Metropolitan Police District, parcels will be carried on country buses (routes numbered over 300). They must be wrapped and tied securely and handed to an agent or conductor, or may be collected direct from the conductor.”

Woking had two bus parcel agents at the time. They were West’s General Stores of 121 High Street, Old Woking, and M Miller of Dandi Restaurant, Maybury Road. Rates quoted were: up to 7lb – 4d; up to 14lb – 8d; up to 21lb – 1s; up to 28lb – 1s 4d. If an agent was used, a booking fee of 1d was charged.

This parcel service was not restricted to simply the journey of one bus. If, for example, you wanted to send a parcel from Woking to, say, Godalming or beyond, the bus from Woking to Guildford would take it, and from there the parcel would be transferred to the bus from Guildford to Godalming.

Parcels were stored in the most convenient places the conductor could find – perhaps in the boot if the bus had one, or in an alcove, or even on the driver’s dashboard.

Peeps reader Peter Trevaskis, who worked in the bus industry and is a long-time and key member of the Aldershot & District Bus Interest Group, recalls the Parcels by Bus service. He says it continued in this area until about the 1970s.

All kinds of items could be sent by bus. Even livestock, such as day-old chicks, could be sent by bus. It is said that in rural areas, farmers sent milk churns by bus.

It appears that buses also carried bundles of newspapers, delivering them to newsagents en route.

Peter kindly supplied a copy of the London Transport timetable and pointed out the many advertisements in it that promote Woking businesses. 

There are 22 advertisers in the timetable, including estate agents Mann & Co, Herbert N Nind Wine & Spirit Stores, building contractors W Deakin & Co, sheet metal workers The Maybury Company Ltd, flooring specialists Edward A Humberstone & Co, draper Dorothy Bennett and house furnishers Colman’s.

Another advertiser is Woking motor garage Nesco, which had its head office in Boundary Road and another garage at 104-105 Maybury Road. Nesco could have been seen as a transport competitor to London Transport and British Railways. But that did not prevent it being allowed to advertise in the timetable. 

There are also advertisements for car-hire firm EJ Waters & Sons and A Boorman & Son Ltd, automobile engineers and agents.

The inside back cover of the timetable features an advertisement for Brookwood Cemetery – “situated in the midst of natural woodland scenery of the Surrey Hills, adjoins Brookwood station”.