‘I really enjoy taking people about’ - ‘Lovely’ Heckmondwike bus driver celebrates 55 years of service
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Tony Dickens started as a conductor when he was 19 at Yorkshire Woollen District Transport, as it was then known, before getting behind the wheel two years later.
Stints as a mentor and on the union have followed, and, although he now only works part-time, he is still enjoying taking passengers around West Yorkshire on his Arriva routes.
Tony, now 74, said: “I started at the Heckmondwike depot, when it was on Beck Lane, on September 2, 1968. I lived in Soothill then, before moving to Heckmondwike. I have had a lot of good times here and I have made some very good friends.
“My father worked on the buses and my brother, Ken, had also been on the buses and he told me to go on them for a little bit as it’ll keep me going for a while. I did, and I’m still here 55 years later!”
Tony who, now works on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays said: “It’s brilliant. I don’t like it when buses miss. I enjoy taking people about. It’s a lot different to what it used to be because of the traffic.
“I also like to see if I can help the other drivers and passengers. Some of the other drivers are trying to find their way, like I was when I was a young man.”
A familiar, friendly face on the buses around Dewsbury, Batley and Spen, Tony’s current routes include the 268, Bradford to Wakefield, the 201 Leeds to Heckmondwike via Morley and the White Rose Shopping Centre, the 261 Heckmondwike to Huddersfield via Kirkheaton and the 271, Batley to Cleckheaton.
However, passengers may only have the pleasure of his company for another few months, as he explained: “My licence runs out next year. When you get to 65 you’ve got to renew it every year and have a medical, so I’m thinking next June I’ll have done ten years over. Maybe I will have done enough by then.”
That could mean more time spent with his wife, Shirley, who works at Tesco in Cleckheaton.
“When we met just over 30 years ago, she used to come with me,” Tony said. “She used to spend an hour or two on a night with me on the bus to Leeds.”
Operations Manager at the Swallow Street depot, Xanti Harrod, said: “Everybody knows him and everybody loves him.”