IN RESPONSE to Jeremy Godwin (Letters, August 15, 'Ribble bus was icy cold') my comment about the Ribble family spirit comes not just from my own experience.

It comes from the many hundreds of folk, both former employees and those who knew the company over 15 years, during which time I have written four books about Ribble using many of their memories. The “Ribble Family” is a constant theme.

Ribble most certainly was not forced to take on the north Cumberland routes as a job lot. The company grew by acquisition, it bought 69 businesses between 1920 and 1940. Penrith was reached in 1927 with the big purchase of the Lancashire and Westmorland Company with the portfolio added to by buying a number of local firms.

Carlisle was even more interesting. Ribble had been quietly buying up local firms so when the city’s tramcars were scrapped in 1931, it was well placed to swoop in and replace them much to the irritation of longer-established operators. Carlisle became a very important part of the company. So it was all planned and certainly not part of some unwanted job lot.

Goodness knows what the retired senior officer was on about. Bus heaters were a pretty standard piece of kit, you either had them or you didn’t. As Ribble buses frequently moved from depot to depot around the company there was no such thing as a heater specification for Lancashire or Cumberland routes and I’m not aware of any bus company that did such a thing.

While I would be the first to admit heaters could be temperamental, at least they were fitted. I grew up in Cardiff and the local Corporation did not buy heaters until 1959 and all their buses had draughty open back platforms. Ribble stopped buying such obsolete models from 1957.

The 1970s were a dreadful time for the bus industry, the worst in its history. I was saddened when I heard about Ambleside. It had been one of mine, but tough decisions had to be made in those dark days to ensure survival.

Jeremy is right, Ribble fares were higher than Cumberland’s and I had to explain that many times. Ribble had a lot of long rural routes, fares are based on mileage, with lower usage which were expensive to run.

While Cumberland had some of these it was mainly based in the urban centres out west, so, put simply, its area was cheaper to run.

Roger Davies