Mile Oak Buses

The journey to Mile Oak in the 1920’s would have been a rural one, rather than the suburban trip we are used to making today.  At this time the old bridge still spanned the High Street and therefore the journey could only be undertaken by a single decker bus.  In the early ‘20’s you would reach Mile Oak (probably sporadically) by the 9a, but in 1928 the No. 9 Route was designated.  This would be the route – from Portslade Station to Mile Oak – that I am sure we can all remember until the late 1940’s.

In 1935 Brighton, Hove & District Omnibus Company was formed.  Their first acquisition was an 18-seater Dennis, which was purchased specifically for the Mile Oak run.  This route terminated in Chrisdory Road.  When it first started running, the bus would travel up Sefton Road into Stanley Avenue and then turn down Chrisdory Road.  It would stop at the top to let off any passengers and then drive to the bottom, where it would wait until it was the scheduled time to leave.  The drivers were regular to this route and they were well known.  In fact they would sometimes pick up shopping from Portslade for people and drop off passengers outside their own front doors should the bus be passing that way.

Eventually they knocked down the bridge over the High Street and double-decker buses reached even Mile Oak!  When the double-deckers started being used the bus would go straight along Mile Oak Road to the bottom of Chrisdory Road, where it would back up and wait at the bottom until it was time to depart. Some of the early double-deckers had outside staircases.

Mile Oak was still an isolated community at this time and often, as the bus went down into Mile Oak, the conductors would call out “Indian country coming up-mind the arrows!”  The buses found the climb from Portslade Old Village into Mile Oak Road a strain.  They would frequently come to a halt, gears crunching, whilst the conductor would call for everyone to lean forward to take the weight off the back of the bus.  The children would sit at the back laughing at all the old ladies leaning forward as requested!  In the winter, when it snowed, the buses would not even attempt the hill and the route would terminate at the Old Village.  As children we loved this, as it meant that we either could not go to school until the buses started running again, or we had to walk to school, only to be sent home again because the toilets (being outside) had frozen.  Even after Valley Road was built the buses still had to stop at the Village during snowy weather, as they could not turn across the hill into Valley Road.

As the community grew routes were changed and the No. 9 was replaced by the 15b.  After the construction of Valley Road we had a further bus, the No. 15, which traversed Valley Road to terminate at the Girls School in Chalky Road.  The 15b continued to use the old route along Mile Oak Road.  The 15b ran three buses an hour, 5 past, 25 past and quarter to the hour from the late 1940’s and often ran relief buses at 8.30am for school children.

These days the bus goes all the way from Mile Oak to Whitehawk, several times an hour; and – although these days we rarely have snow – they do find it much easier to get up the hill.

The number 9 bus parked at its terminus outside the waterworks.

The picture shows one of the early Bean 14 seater buses.

This service started in 1928, ran from Portslade Station to the Mile Oak Waterworks. From 1934 it ran every 30 minutes morning and evening and every 15 minutes in the afternoon.

Due to hostilities the service was terminated at Chrisdory Road sometime in 1940.

These pictures show the bus that most of us will remember, again the No. 9 service.

The bus on the left shows the destination Mile Oak and the one below (parked outside Conway Street garage) Portslade Station.

As mentioned above the service commenced in 1928 and withdrawn on 30th November 1945 when it was replaced by the 15B double decker buses.

The 15B service commenced on the 4th February 1937 and ran from Portslade Station to the Ladies Mile Estate.  

On the 1st December 1945 the service was extended from Portslade Station to Mile Oak – Chrisdory Road and ran every 20 minutes.

It became possible to run double decker buses to Mile Oak after the removal of the foot bridge over the High Steet in the Old Village in 1945.

The bus shown was one of the last AEC Regents, these were soon replaced  with Bristol buses.

This is a picture of a model bus with the number 26 with the destination Mile Oak – manufactured by EFE. This shows that people outside have also heard of Mile Oak.

This bus service operated when many of us had left the area. The date on the side advert is 1968.

Pictures of Nos 9 and 15B buses – Brighton Hove & District by John Roberts
Poster – courtesy of Southdown Enthusiasts Club.

1934 poster advertising where to go on the Bank Holiday.

You will note that by taking the No. 9 to Mile Oak – it was an excellent starting point for a downland walk to the Devil’s Dyke