Legendary Pioneers Of Bus Transport In Newry Area
(Part 2)

Newry Urban Council established a bye-law, whereby authorised stands could be established for vehicles `propelled by mechanical power` on the Armagh, Camlough, Dromalane, Dublin, Omeath, Rathfriland and Warrenpoint Roads; Abbey Yard, Catherine Street, the Mall, Upper William Street and Trevor Hill.

Meanwhile, one-man buses were operating in the South Down district from the early 30ís. And Inspector Pat Marinan from Rostrevor reported how he had joined the Yellow Line Motor Service, owned by the late Hugh McAnulty, travelling between the `Point and Rostrevor. During the summer, tours also took place to Dublin, the Glens of Antrim, the Mournes, Bangor and Carlingford Lough.

In 1935, when the service was taken over by the NI Road Transport Board, he joined the company as driver/conductor, and was promoted to the rank of inspector. Neither the roads nor the buses were in proper order, with the three-mile journey from the `Point to Rostrevor costing four pence. There was no limit to the hours worked, and no overtime. Drivers had to wash out the vehicles and carry out repairs. Holidays were unknown in the early years of public transport!

Incidentally, Stanley McGladdery, married to a sister of soccer star, Peter McParland, had joined the bus company as a messenger, became a conductor, then an inspector, and was finally appointed as a training instructor. A keen bowls and pitch and putt player, Stanley is considering writing a book about his time `on the buses.`

Norman McKinley from Warrenpoint, certainly has enough material for a book. He left school at the age of 14 in 1937, and four years later became a conductor, transporting workers for the construction of Cranfield aerodrome. He was the first to drive an Express bus to Belfast! In the 70ís! Jack Bannon was one of his superiors, with brothers Paddy and Jack being inspectors.

A friend of Normanís has been Down team-manager, Barney Carr, later a Schools Inspector. A son is Cllr Hugh Carr, while a daughter, Louise is on the staff of St Louis College. Another workmate was Dan Mussen from Hilltown, uncle of the famous Kevin Mussen. Dan would cycle every day between his home and the bus depot at Rostrevor, in all kinds of weather, arriving home at midnight.

On leaving St Peterís School, Norman had worked in the family ice-cream business at Charlotte Street and Newry Street. His father, William, had a farm on the Lower Dromore Road, where he kept 14 cows, whose milk was used to make ice-cream. After 25 years service with Ulsterbus, Norman was employed by Reeds as a long-distance lorry-driver, also completing 50 years service as an ATGWU shop-steward. He is chairman of the Retired Members Association.

During the 70ís, he took over responsibility for Warrenpoint Swimming Pool, with Paul McEvoy, Jimmy Fegan and Sam Weir on the staff. He described the scene with open-air dancing, and criticised the decision to convert it to a boating pool. One son, Brian, is principal of Meigh primary school; Noel is a builder, while daughter Mrs Deirdre Scott is a teacher in Sligo, and Finnuala a health visitor.

Meanwhile, the staff attached to Newry depot were well-known in other walks of life. For example, Hugh Golding was a councillor and civil rights activist; Mickey Cunningham has been involved with the Gateway Club; Neily McCann was a dashing band-leader; Cyril Connor a director of Newry Credit Union; David Garey starred with St Killianís GFC at Whitecross; Sean Hillen was secretary of Newry Trades Council; Jimmy Andrews was a boxer and councillor; while Dixie Dean was a Welsh soldier, whose wife Mary lived in River Street.

A printer by trade, Hugh Golding joined the NIRTB in 1942, becoming a conductor on the Newry to Belfast run. After leaving the bus service, he was involved in producing time-tables and brochures for public transport companies in the North, later joining Hodgettís printing firm. Becoming a member of the NI Labour Party, his comrades included Tom Kelly, Charlie OíDonnell and Dan Boyd.

Later, Hugh joined the Irish Labour Party, which controlled Newry Urban Council in the 60ís. And he defeated former council chairman Tommy Markey for a seat on Down Co Council. Chosen as the Unity candidate for the 1970 Westminster elections, he almost defeated sitting MP, Captain Orr. But as a member of the Republican Clubs, Hugh Golding suffered a heavy defeat in the next election.

Incidentally, Jack Bannonís son, Pat, who was on the staff of Carlingford Lough Commission, and later had a confectionary shop at Abbey Yard, possesses the war-time diary kept by his father, while based in Africa. And it is appropriate that he has assembled a fascinating collection of miniature military personnel and artefacts, many of them German, at his home on Barley Lane. They have been on display at a various exhibitions.

Married to the late Teresa Keely from Chapel Hill, Pat Bannonís family consists of Chris, a laboratory technician at Daisyhill Hospital; Gerard, formerly of the `LuvBugí group, now a music technician in Belfast; Mark, who is employed at Sellafield, John a teacher and artist, based in London. His daughters are Mrs Briege McCann and Mrs Yvonne Ferris.

Meanwhile, it was fitting a grandson of the legendary Jack Bannon would have some fascinating enhanced sketches of well-known landmarks in the frontier town, on display in the exhibition at the Chapel Street Area Re-union.

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© Fabian Boyle 2001-2008