On Friday 8th February 2013, Arthur Pearson retires from Oxford Bus Company, having first walked through the doors some 65 years earlier.
When Arthur joined the company as a driver in 1948, the world couldn’t have been a more different place. The company, then owned by British Electric Traction, was yet to be nationalised and then privatised again, leading to the company we have today. Clippies were very much the standard on all vehicles, and would continue to remain on city buses for another 18 years. It would be very difficult indeed for anyone to work at Oxford Bus Company without being affected by Arthur in some way. Indeed, within Oxford itself, he is very much an icon. A true gentleman, to the very end of his career, he showed 100% dedication to his job and earned respect from all his colleagues. His legacy, unlikely ever to be matched, will never leave the company.
Arthur’s manager for the last five years, Andrew Morison describes Arthur as a model employee, “You’d be hard pressed to find a more conscientious and committed colleague than Arthur. For as long as I have worked with him, he has shown an unwavering willingness to work and an ever-positive attitude. This, combined with his genuine humility and kindness, has earned him great respect among his fellow staff.” After 65 years in the job, Arthur now plans to put his feet up and enjoy his belated retirement at his home in Cowley, whilst still finding time to enjoy a cream coffee and cake at his favourite Queens Lane coffee shop. He will also be travelling up to Scarborough now and again to visit his family.
Fast forward 65 years to 2013 and Arthur has finally called time on his career with us. Throughout his time working in the bus industry, Arthur has touched millions of lives and – be they passengers, bosses, colleagues or statesmen – are all richer for knowing Arthur.
Arthur was born in Scarborough on 1st July 1924, the second of eight children. In 1942 he joined the Durham Light Infantry three months before his 18th birthday. He transferred to the Royal Signals and went ashore on Juno Beach on D Day 1944 with the Canadian forces. He followed the allied advance and was one of the British troops to arrive at Belsen. He remained in the Army as a Corporal Mechanic in Germany until he was demobbed in January 1947.
He was recruited by United Automobile Services in Scarborough and swiftly passed his PSV test. However, in a seaside resort, the work was seasonal and Arthur’s brother, who was already living near Oxford, told him that they were looking for drivers in the area. So in February 1948, a career in the Oxford Bus Company, which went on to last 65 years, began.
In his early days of being a bus driver, Arthur met his future wife, Jean. When he first met her, Arthur failed to realise that she worked in the cash office of the Bus Company. That is until Jean had checked him out and found him to be a suitable young man. She soon became a conductress and was Arthur’s regular ‘clippie’ on the number 8 service. He recalls: “I started courting her when I was on the number eight and started a bit of a romance. She worked in the cashier’s office but it was not long until she became my conductress.” Jean passed away 16 years ago after 46 years of marriage.
After a spell as a trainer of conductors Arthur became an Inspector in 1975 and his people skills ensured that he never got less than 100% commitment from his colleagues. Arthur was a much respected Inspector when he reached retirement age in June 1989. After a couple of days leave he returned to the bus company and has worked in a number of roles since then. He returned to the company as a driver on 1st July 1989, before becoming part-time Rota Assistant in May 1990. Arthur then moved on to become a clerk at Gloucester Green in 1991, where he remained for the next 15 years.
Following the launch of the key in 2006, Arthur found a new role in Customer Services, liasing between the head office in Cowley and the newly opened Travel Shop in Debenhams.
In 2011, Arthur was recognised for his long tenure in the bus industry with a special commendation for outstanding service at the UK Bus Awards. Shortly after picking up his award, Arthur said, “I am delighted to have won the award. It means a lot to me. I can honestly say that I have enjoyed every minute of my time at Oxford Bus Company.”
Even after so long dedicated to the bus industry in general, and Oxford Bus in particular, Arthur still relished every day at work. Whether dealing with members of the public, his colleagues or even the Prime Minister, Arthur was not fazed by anyone but treats everyone with great respect. On being on the buses he said: “I have enjoyed every minute of it. When I used to be a driver, I was usually whistling and singing and passengers would say to me ‘you’re a happy driver’. I would always say ‘that’s because I am very fortunate. I have got a job I love’.”