David Toy was in the chair for our November meeting and originally entitled his presentation "My London & Country Days" but following the sad passing away of Colin Curtis, David was prompted to put together a story of his life, and given that Colin had come down to speak to both ourselves and the Eastbourne Historic Vehicle Club, I felt it appropriate to change the programme to suitably respect one of our more colourful personalities.
On the evening of the meeting, the first downside was the hall which had suffered a boiler breakdown on what was the coldest eveing of the winter so far. Several members left at the break while all who stayed on kept their overcoats firmly buttoned up! This did not detract from a confident and informative presentation using Powerpoint via the video projector. We commenced with Colin's formative yearsin Brighton with some views of 'Thomas Tilling' AEC Regents upon which the young master Curtis travelled to school. At a very young age Colin was able to identify the vehicles and was soon to start his venture as a professional in the industry with the war years finding him in apprenticeship at the AEC works at Southall defining faults with engines.
Colin eventually moved on to London Transport and David illustrated the many and at the time very varied types in the 8,000 strong fleet, which settled down eventually to the RT family standardisation removing most of the old order. As early as 1951 the seeds were being sown for a new generation of buses.... the ubiquitous Routemaster first saw the light of day in 1954 and Colin was indeliby blinked with its development and prosperity. Having been brought up in an engineering background I found the exploration of its design features fascinating but appreaciate that it may have been a touch too techinal for some in the audience.
David dealt at length with the FRM project and it demise at a time when diminishing numbers of manufacturers for both vehicles and components lead to unsatisfactory performance by the new "off the shelf" buses with the well known disasters which Colin was tasked with trying to solve..... Scanias with corrosion problems and power and fuel difficulties which lead to very shorts lives, Merlins and Swifts whose bodies 'broke their backs' and the infamous DMSs which were found to be totally incapable for fitting into the Aldenham Works process leading to their demise at a young age.
David took us through Colin Curtis' seeming obsession with hydraulics and his involvement with the Moulton project, a four axle small wheeled concept which never got off the ground despite the purchase of a twin-steer Bedford VAL for experiment purposes and to his eventual retirement, somewhat disillusioned but a fantastic font of knowledge which he was always keen to pass on to whoever would listen.
A great evening from David Toy, who would not take a fee, so we invited him to our Christmas Dinner by way of a thank you.