Station housed a fleet of buses

AN INFAMOUS Retford landmark has finally bitten the dust after standing neglected for 12 years.

AN INFAMOUS Retford landmark has finally bitten the dust after standing neglected for 12 years.

The old East Midland bus garage on Moorgate, which for so long was home to a pristine fleet of buses, has been flattened to make way for a DIY superstore.

"It's the end of an era – a way of life all on its own," said Ken Thompson, who was a mechanic at the garage during the 1960s.

"For years it housed a fleet of buses that served the public from 4.05am to 12.20am every day as regular as clockwork."

But when the buses pulled out of the yard for the last time in 1992, the old garage was left to decay, eventually becoming a blot on Retford's landscape and a target for vandals and graffiti artists.

But it wasn't always that way.

East Midland Motor Services Ltd was officially founded in 1927. But by then it had already been operating from Clowne for seven years under the name of W T Underwood Ltd, using just three buses.

One year later, the new company acquired Retford Motor Services and their site, which proved to be an important move.

In 1930, the headquarters, office and workshop were moved to Worksop and eventually Chesterfield as the company continued to expand.

In post-war years, the company's first two double-decker buses were eventually transferred to Retford for the Doncaster service after being fitted with Gardner 5LW diesel engines. Drivers described them as being 'desperately slow and uncomfortable'.

Smokers had the upper deck all to themselves and there were no doors to keep passengers warm.

In 1956, the familiar coach-painted biscuit and chocolate livery was changed to red, a move that proved to be none too popular with die-hard drivers and bus enthusiasts alike.

By 1960 the Retford garage had become home to 25 buses, with a couple of extra coaches put on through the summer months.

Operations were expected to run smoothly and as buses came in, they were cleaned inside and out before going out on the road again. There were few cars then and people expected their buses to run to time.

But soon, the old garage will be no more than a memory for those who worked there.

Mr Thompson added: "It was a great place to work. It was very friendly – a community all to itself with an excellent canteen and social facilities."

"The buses seemed to have a lot more character than those we see nowadays. It's a shame it's being replaced by a DIY store."

Focus DIY will open its new superstore at the site either late this year or early 2005.