A reminder that Britain in the swinging year of 1963 wasn’t nearly as cool and as modern as we’ve been led to believe.
Parallels with Montgomery are clearly overstated. There was no legally sanctioned segregation, non-white bus crews were already common in other major cities and, as the story shows, many people thought that they would be more efficient than their white counterparts. (This particular piece of folk wisdom reasoned that, because of racial prejudice, a black worker or tradesmen was likely to be better qualified than his white counterpart to have got the job in the first place).
Whilst there was obviously a racial element to this incident, it seems to have been more about a thuggish closed shop defending the rights of white working class men to cling to outdated working practices and earn a decent living by working ridiculous amounts of overtime (and the rights of the bus company to pay shoddy wages). What the average Bristolian thought about riding on buses driven by men who were working 100 hour weeks is not recorded.
Anyway, Bristol hired its first non-white conductor (Raghbir Singh) in 1963. It would be another eight years (1971) before they appointed Christine Preece, their first woman bus driver.
Image: Bristol Tramways C3336 (GHT 154) (Photo credit: Wikipedia Commons)