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This page is a page in progress. Hopefully more data about Sunderland's buses & trams will be located, & included on the page in the future. Just one item today, an article about bus & tram tickets used long ago in Sunderland - an article that will be of interest to very few site visitors, I suspect. But that is OK. The data is, I believe, interesting enough to be considered worthy of retention.


'The Tickets of Sunderland Corporation Transport, 1929-1954', a newsletter, issued by 'The Ticket and Fare Collection Society', of London, with C. R. MacLeod the author.


A 16 page booklet entitled 'Sunderland Transport - The First Hundred Years', published, in 1979, by the 'Tyne and Wear Passenger Transport Executive' ('Executive'), of Newcastle upon Tyne.



By C.R. MacLeod.

Webmaster's comment - The data which follows was published, in 1954, in the form of 4 legal sized page newsletter on pink paper, stapled at top left. Presumably mailed to the then members of 'The Ticket and Fare Collection Society', of London. It would seem to have been printed on a rotary Gestetner machine - a machine with which the webmaster had some familiarity years ago. Since scanning a legal sized page is most difficult, I have instead transcribed the text with diligence & care. I have chosen not to correct the few typing errors the text contains. So the text is, I believe, 100% true to what was published almost 60 years ago. I rather doubt if C. R. Macleod, could have ever imagined that his efforts would be available today to most of the world via these pages. I like to think that he would approve.
It would be good if images of some of the tickets referred to could be shown on this page, & also images of some of the ticket punches & machines to which Mr. MacLeod refers. 




      In the past, the tickets of Sunderland Corporation displayed a number of interesting characteristics which were not to be found elsewhere, and since a large variety of these tickets are still quite easily obtainable, the following notes will, I hope, assist collectors who like to keep their specimens in chronological order.

      Sunderland Corporation entered the passenger transport field on the first day of the century. They purchased the horse car system of Sunderland Tramways Co. Ltd. on 1st January, 1900 and opened the first electric tram route on 15th August in the same year.

      I do not propose to deal with the early tickets, but shall start my story in 1929. This is as good a point as any, for, in the first place, the average collector of today is not likely to come across many of the specimens issued before that year; and, secondly, because 1929 automatically suggests itself as a natural starting point

      The fareboard tickets of the 1920's (ably described by Mr. Bett in Newsletter, November 1952 - see Appendix) continued to be issued until the autumn of 1929, when some sweeping changes took place. In his historic speech to Sunderland Town Council on 14th August, 1929, the late Mr. C.A. Hopkins announced proposals for a vast re-organisation of the Transport Dept., and even the fare-collection side received considerable attention. He proposed abolishing the cash office in the centre of town where conductors paid in every trip; introducing "duty" waybills in place of waybills "per trip"; and replacing the existing ticket system with what he called the "unit control" system. These changes duly took place and the new tickets appeared later in the year.

      It was in 1929 too, that Sunderland Corporation discarded Bell Punches in favour of smaller, non-registering punches supplied by Mr. Derby of Bolton. These punches cut a smaller hole (slightly more than 3/32" in diam.) than a Bell Punch, and up to three tickets could quite easily be inserted and punched simultaneously. This type of punch remained standard until the changeover to Setright "Speed" machines.


      (1) Ordinary tickets of the period 1929-1954 fall roughly into six main groups, the first, of course, being the new tickets introduced by Mr. Hopkins. These were quite unlike any previous Sunderland tickets, and even the printer was changed, being now Colleys of London. Though still of the fareboard type, there was no longer a separate set of tickets for each route and the stages of all routes (both tram and bus) were combined on a single form, the d., 1d. and 2d. values being extremely long tickets. The series was indicated by a single letter; below it there was a three figure number which was the number of the conductor issuing the ticket - the "unit-control" system. Values issued were d pink, 1d. white, 1d. Transfer emerald green, 1d. mauve, 2d. blue, 2d. buff, 3d. reddish brown and 4d. deep violet. Shortly afterwards, values up to 2d appeared with separate forms for tram and bus routes, or on bus routes only, were headed "Sunderland Corporation Tramways and Motors", whilst the tram only tickets were headed "SUNDERLAND CORPORATION TRAMWAYS". The 4d. ticket deserves special mention. It was unusual in that it appeared only with the tram conductors' numbers, though there was no 4d. tram fare at this time, and the tickets were used only on buses. In fact, the 4d value was so little used in those days, that it was 1948 before the 39 series issued (A, B and C 151 to 163) were finally used up.

      (2) Though they were very fine productions, the Colleys tickets had a short reign, and in 1932 Punch and Ticket Co., Ltd. recommenced the printing of Sunderland tickets. The majority of the new forms were of a similar style to the pre-1929 tickets, with a letter (now serving only as an additional series letter) below the value. (See Note a). For d. to 2d. tickets, there were two forms (one tram, one bus) for each value; 2d. and 3d. (the latter now yellow) were combined tram and bus; 3d. (light grey) and 4d. (plum) were bus only. There was also a 1d. Transfer. All values (except d. to 2d. bus) had the second series letter below the value, the d. to 2d. bus having this second letter above the value. Tickets in use on buses only, and also the 3d., had a letter B in front of the value. d. to 2d. tram, and 1d. Transfer, were headed "Sunderland Corporation Tramways," 3d. and 4d. were "Sunderland Corporation Tramways & Motors." (in two lines), whilst the remainder were "Sunderland Corp'n Tramways & Motors." Perhaps all this can be more easily understood in the following table -


Issued on
Second Series Letter
d. Tram Below Value Sunderland Corporation Tramways
Bd. Bus Above        "        Corp'n Tramways & Motors
1d. Tram Below        "        Corporation Tramways
B1d. Bus Above        "        Corp'n Tramways & Motors
1d.Transfer Tram & Bus Below        "        Corporation Tramways
1d. Tram Below        "               "               "
B1d. Bus Above        "        Corp'n Tramways & Motors
2d. Tram Below        "        Corporation Tramways
B2d. Bus Above        "        Corp'n Tramways & Motors
2d. Tram & Bus Below        "            "          "           "
B3d. Tram & Bus Below        "            "          "           "
B3d. Bus Below        "        Corporation Tramways and
                Motors (in two lines)
B4d. Bus Below        "        Corporation Tramways and
                Motors (in two lines)

      The "unit control" system was still retained, but to a lesser extent, being now used only for values up to 2d. (see note b). These did not carry a second series letter above or below the value, thus tickets of two distinct types were in use concurrently. There were quite a number of alterations to stages on most values in this issue, which remained in use up to 1945.

      (3) Then a new issue appeared, exactly the same as the final forms of the 1932-45 issue, except that all tickets were now headed "Sunderland Corporation Transport" and conditions of issue were altered. (see note c). It should be noted that the 4d. value did not appear until late 1947, and this ticket was not similar to the previous 4d. which had only been in use for a very short time about 1932. This new 4d. was pinkish-mauve in colour, and had the second series letter above the value. In addition, the value was overprinted in red. As before, values up to 2d. (except 2d. tram) were also issued in "unit control".

      (4) The next major change occurred in 1948, when fares were increased and the minimum adult fare became 1d, though d. childrens' fares remained. A complete new set of fareboard tickets were introduced and all values up to 3d. now had separate forms for tram and bus routes. As well as finally abandoning the "unit control" system, the old idea of having the second series letter below or above the value was now done away with, and all tickets had two series letters, both capitals, in the normal position. (see note d.) I should point out that the 1d. Transfer (which replaced the 1d. Transfer) did appear at first with a letter below the value, this no doubt being due to the fact that a stock of this new ticket had been printed some time in advance in anticipation of the fare increase. The final extension of the Durham Road tram route in 1949 meant alterations and additions to the stages on the tram tickets, and some alterations are to be found on bus values, too. In this issue the 2d. appeared for the first time with the value overprinted in red, a possible reason being that the wide variety of shades of paper that this value was now being printed on, often caused confusion with the 3d. which now appeared to have settled nearer primrose.

      (5) By this time the
frequent extensions of bus routes made the issue of up-to-date fareboard tickets more and more impossible, and in 1949 the first numerical stage issue (for buses only) made its appearance, fareboard tickets continuing to be used on the trams until 1951. This issue had the stage numbers 1 - 16, with "DEPOT" and "Transfer" at the foot of the ticket. All values from d. to 4d. appeared, in colours as before, and three new values 4d. (grass green), 5d. (salmon) and 5d. (reddish brown) were added, these little used values having been met previously by "marrying" a low value with a 4d. Soon afterwards, the values 1d. to 3d. appeared with the space at the foot of the ticket altered to "CHILD" "DEPOT" and "Transfer". During a shortage of 1d. tickets in 1951, there were temporary printings of this value by Bell Punch Co., Ltd. (form G.6285) and by Hunt, the latter being greyish white in colour. Though otherwise similar to the Punch & Ticket printings, neither the B.P. nor the Hunt tickets had the customary letter B in front of the value.

      (6) Not long before the next fare increase in 1951, an entirely different numerical stage issue ( with unequally spaced stages  1 - 16 and Transfer) made its appearance on the trams. In this issue the series (usually printed in red) is indicated by a letter and a number, but it should be noted that this is not the issuing conductors' number as on the fareboard tickets, but is merely a similar system to that which Punch & Ticket have employed on some other operators' tickets (e.g. Plymouth). (see note e). At first only the values d. to 3d. appeared, but, after the fare increase took place, values up to 4d. were added and the d. was withdrawn. After the initial disappearance of the d. value, the opportunity was taken of changing the colour of the troublesome 2d. to pink (without value overprint). In this issue, the 3d. changed to a medium shade of blue, and can be found with, and without, value overprints. This issue later made its appearance on the buses, where it eventually replaced the earlier numerical issue, and in 1953 the 5d. and 5d. values finally made their appearance.


      The Universal ticket, first issued about 1934, is a sort of workman's cheap ticket, but available to anyone, issued up to 9 a.m., which allows the holder to travel to any other point on the system making not more than one change. It replaced earlier various-priced Workman's Returns. Universal Tickets are not issued, or available for use on Sundays, Bank Holidays, football specials or the North Hylton (joint with N.G.T.) route. The original 1d. Universal was a normal length ticket with a list of all tram and bus destinations, and was headed "Sunderland Corp'n Tramways & Buses."

      In early 1937, the 1d. Universal was withdrawn and a 2d. Universal Return substituted, the return journey being allowed any time after 9 a.m. The first issue of the Return had spaces for the date, which necessitated the ticket being punched 4 times on issue, and 7 times in all if a transfer return was made. As might be expected this ticket was found to be unsatisfactory, and it was soon replaced by a very long ticket which had the destinations of all tram and bus routes repeated down both sides which were headed "From" and "To". This ticket was unusual in that it was headed "SUNDERLAND CORPORATION TRANSPORT", although it was many years later before this heading became used for other values.

      In 1941, the 2d. Universal Return was withdrawn and a 1d Universal introduced - a rather neat way of effecting a fare increase, though ordinary fares remained as before. As a sort of compensation this ticket was also issed from 4.30 to 6 p.m. on weekdays and from 11.30 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturdays. Being wartime, stocks of 2d. Universal Returns and then 1d. Universals were used up for this value, before the first 1d. Universal appeared. This was a very long ticket, exactly the same as the 2d. Universal Return. except, of course, for the value. This had an extremely short life ( a few weeks at the most) and a new form, exactly the same as the 1d. Universal , took its place. This ticket, which had a much longer life, can be found with three variations of destination names. Until 1945 it was headed "Sunderland Corp'n Tramways & Buses," and that year it became "Sunderland Corporation Transport" as did all other tickets. With the latter heading there are three different conditions of issue. All the above Universals can be found in the two types, (a) with ordinary series letters, one in normal position and the second below the value; and (b) "unit control" issues.

      In 1948. (after it was discovered that large numbers of people travelling into town in the morning, asked for Universal Transfers and used the same ticket to return home with in the evening) a new form. longer than normal, appeared, on which the days of the week repeated down both sides of the ticket, one side being marked A.M. and the other P.M. On this type of ticket the series was indicated by two capital letters in normal position. Shortly afterwards, the A.M. and P.M. were added to the "Cancelled" section at the foot of the ticket.

      The fare increase in 1951 affected Universal tickets also, and a 2d. Universal appeared. This ticket was of normal length and the design closely resembled that of the 1951 numerical stage tickets, with letter and number series indication in red. This ticket was withdrawn in April 1953, when a 5d. Universal Return was introduced, and issued under the same conditions that applied to the old 2d. Universal Return. T he 5d. ticket was longer than normal, and the only ticket ever to carry the heading "Sunderland Corporation Transport Dept."

      Despite three increases in 12 years, the Universal ticket still provides remarkable value for money. Even to-day it is possible to get up to 16 miles of travel for 5d. - which is something rare indeed in 1954. All Universal tickets are reddish-brown, though variations of shade are plentiful.


      These were first introduced about 1932, and at the same time 6d. Round Tour tickets, introduced in 1929, were withdrawn. T he 6d. Round Tour ticket was a normal geographical stage issue, and was coloured a very bright red. Though it was in use during the Colleys era, I have only seen Punch & Ticket printings of it.

      The first All-day tickets had 31 date spaces along the sides, and the months across the top and bottom of the tickets. The 1/- All-Day was purplish-pink and the 6d. Child's All-Day was green.

       It was not long before the prices were reduced to 9d. and 4d. Child and a new design of ticket appeared, in colours as previously. Then the colours were reversed, 9d. All-Day becoming green, and the 4d. Child All-Day purplish-pink. In the green colour, the 9d All-day can be found with both the "Tramways & Motors" and "Transport" headings.

      The 1948 fare increase brought the prices back to 1/-d. and 6d. Child and new forms appeared. These remained in use until the 1951 fare increase when they were withdrawn altogether, having outlived most other all-day tickets in the country. A 1d. Nurses All-Day ticket (yellow) existed at one time, and the Corporation used the nationalization of the Health Services as the excuse for withdrawing it.


      On Route 48 (Sunderland - Castletown - North Hylton) Sunderland Corporation formerly used Northern Bell Punch tickets, but in 1949 when Northern became completely Bellgraphic, Sunderland had to supply their own tickets. Consequently, a set of composite single-returns similar to Northern design, and more or less in Northern colours, made its appearance. At first the following values were issued - 1d. white, 1d. yellow, 2d. pink, 2d. olive, 3d. light blue, 3d. orange (later printings were salmon), 4d. mauve, 5d. dark crimson, 6d. brown, 7d. light brown, 8d. dark blue (later printings were much lighter in colour), and a white exchange. A fare increase by Northern in 1951 resulted in the withdrawal of the 5d. and 7d. values, and the introduction of three new values, 4d. grass green, 7d white (withblue stripe) and 9d. white (with crimson stripe). A revised Exchange ticket later appeared, as the earlier one did not have a 7d. space on it (a value never used by Northern). This is the only route on which Sunderland Corporation operate outside the borough boundary, and Universal tickets are not valid on it - neither were All-Day tickets.

      All other jointly operated routes are within the borough boundary and on these routes both operators issue their normal tickets. As the Bellgraphic machine is not very suitable for issuing Universal tickets, Northern conductors also carry punch-type Universals. At first, these were supplied by Sunderland Corporation but in April 1954 Northern introduced their own version of the 5d. Universal Return.


      These were first introduced in the 1930's. The 1d. exists with both "Tramways & Motors" and "Transport" headings. At the 1951 fare increase these tickets became 2d., the design of the ticket remaining the same. Shades of both values varied between grass green & olive.


      A number of school bus services are run, but ordinary tickets are issued on these. There exist, for special purposes, a number of pre-paid School Tickets. Prior to 1951 these were d. salmon, d. grey (with geographical stages) and 1d. green. In 1951 there appeared 1d. School Tickets (salmon), and 1d. Special School Ticket (slate), both these new tickets having numbered stages 1-16, "Transfer" and "Cancelled." These two tickets are still in current use.


      Before 1939, at certain specified times during the schools' summer holidays, children could travel from any point on the system to the beach at Seaburn for d., one transfer being allowed if necessary. A special d. (green) ticket was issued for this purpose, but after the outbreak of war it was seen no more.

      From 1934 to 1939, tours were run in the summer season from Seaburn, covered "toast-rack" buses being used. For most of these, stocks of the old 6d. Round Tour ticket were used, but for the tour to South Shields a 1/- ticket (white with red printing) existed.

      For a number of years, special night bus services have been run, chiefly for the benefit of workers at Wearmouth Colliery. At first, a 6d. white ticket (rather similar to the final type of 1d Universal) was issued, but these went out of use in early 1953, when a one-man operated bus with a fixed Setright Speed machine, was introduced on these services.

      The only other special issue to mention is the buff-coloured 2d. Voucher used on route 1 (Borough Road - Hill View - Alexandra Road). These are sold in booklets of 12 for 1/9. (See Newsletter, 1954 page 3). On this ticket, the last new type to be introduced, the operator's name is reduced to "S.C.T." 2d. Vouchers are still in current use.

      On most special, and little-used, issues a single letter has sufficed to indicate the series, the chief exceptions being route 48 composites, 6d white tickets and 2d. Vouchers which have always had two capital letters to denote the series. The letter I is never used on Sunderland tickets.


      Sunderland have experimented with a number of different ticket-issuing machines, probably the first being an "Autowaybill" machine tried in 1929.

      It may come as a surprise to many readers to learn that Sunderland was almost the first operator in the country to use the "Ultimate" machine. One was introduced at the end of February 1946 - at the same time as Birmingham - and remained in use for a few weeks. Stock "BLANK CORPN" tickets were used.

      Various other machines were tried, with a view to complete mechanisation, and in 1952 a decision was reached in favour of Setright Speeds. Consequently, 201 of these machines were ordered at a cost of 9,200. Delivery of these was completed in March, 1954, and in the following month the last of the punches had disappeared.

      Sunderland has always had a flair for producing unusual tickets, and even the Setright Speeds carry on this tradition. Originally, absolutely blank white rolls were used, the machine itself printing everything, as follows:- (1) class of ticket; (2) operators initials, "S.C.T."; (3) (4) (5) three figure serial number; (6) month and machine number; (7) date of month; (8) number of stage boarded; (9) "ISSUED SUBJECT TO BYELAWS & REGS.; and(10) fare paid. After the introduction of the 5d. Universal Return, rolls were stamped with the hours 9-12 and 1-10 along the edges, to assist in the cancellation of 5d Universal Transfer Returns.

      A small number of machines are reserved for use on Route 48 exclusively, and they are distinguished externally by a special green marking.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

      The tickets distributed consist of all tickets (except School tickets and 2d. Vouchers) which remained in use up to April 1954, as follows -

1951 numerical stage issue, 1d,. 1d. (two shades), 2d., 2d., 3d., 3d., 4d., 4d., 5d. and 5d.; 5d. Universal Return; Passengers' Luggage Ticket; route 48 composites, 1d., 1d., 2d., 2d., 3d., 3d., 4d,, 4d., 6d., 7d., 8d., 9d. and Exchange. Also included is either a 5d. or a 6d. N.G.T. from the earlier type of the issue headed "Northern and Associated Companies." Later printings with this heading had "NOT TRANSFERABLE" added at the foot.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Note a :

the easiest way to distinguish between a pre-1929 tram ticket and a 1932 one, is by studying the conditions of issue. Pre-1929 read "Ticket available only on car on which issued...." whilst 1932 tickets read "Available only on car on which issued...."

Note b :

the 2d. tram "unit control" ticket went out of use after a short time; a 3d., with stages "Hylton Road Schools" and "Sea lane" existed in "unit control" only.

Note c :

in this issue the d. tram can be found with both the old and the altered conditions of issue: the 1d. Transfer exists with operators' name in capitals and later in lower-case type; there are two varieties of 3d. (stages altered).

Note d :

the position in 1948 is rather complicated. Just before the fare increase, a few series of some of the 1945-48 tickets (chiefly 1d. tram and 1d. tram) appeared with two series letters  in normal position; they were thus similar in appearance to the corresponding "unit control" tickets. Also, a few series of some of the new 1948 tickets (1d. tram, and 2d. bus) appeared with "unit control" series indications. These tickets mentioned in this note can hardly be classed as "different" varieties, but it has been thought necessary to mention them, as they may cause confusion to collectors who may happen to acquire specimens.

Note e :

in this issue the sequence of series ran as follows - A C to A 99, B 0 to B 99, etc. (except the much used 1d. and 2d. values which ran A 0 to A 999, etc). For some unknown reason, values 3d. and above did not start at series A C, but started, theoretically where the earlier numerical stage issue left off. For example, the last batch of 3d's in the earlier issue were series AF to ZF, and the first batch of 3d's in this issue were series G 0 to G 99. 4d. started at H 0, and 4d., 5d. and 5d. at B 0.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

By W.H. Bett.

      With reference to Novice's Pages, October, 1952, newsletter, it should perhaps be pointed out that the letters appearing on Sheffield and Sunderland Corporation's tickets were originally genuine route numbers, though they have since degenerated into mere "plate" letters.

       As regards Sunderland, the route letters were well-defined about the 1920's, when I new the system well. They were as follows:-

B.  -

On some later tickets B was Circle - Southwick.

C.  -

Grangetown - Sea Lane..

D.  -

Docks - Southwick (an early abandonment).

E.  -

Grangetown - Fulwell, later St. Barnabas - Fulwell via ChCh and later still Durham Road - Fulwell.

F.  -

Tatem Street single-deck shuttle, High St - Villette Rd.

G.  -

Grangetown - Fullwell (after E became St. Barnabas).

H.  -

Humbledon bus.

S.  -

Special set with universal stages, used on Football Specials and other roving commissions. These, like the others were geographical fareboard tickets, but with stages for all routes; the 1d. was an enormously long issue and all had the stages in excessively minute type.

W.  -

Used on certain universal Workman tickets.

Y. & Z.  -

Stages Gas Office to Grangetown only, for use on Sunderland District Electric Tramways Ltd. cars in Sunderland Corporation Transport area. distinction between Y & Z not clear; both bore identical stages, but possibly one was theoretically New Silksworth and the other the Houghton-le-Spring route.

      These letters disappeared for a time when Colleys took over printing (c. 1930) and all tickets then became universal. The letters reappeared, but as arbitrary plate letters, sometime after the printing had reverted to Punch and Ticket.

      In the era mentioned Sunderland had other peculiarities; the conductors had to pay in at office after every trip, and the serial letters were personal to conductor throughout; one conductor would have all his tickets with say AB initials


The appendix is reprinted from the Ticket and Fare Collection Society's Newsletter, November 1952, page 7.


The Ticket and Fare Collection Society,
23, Lower Boston Road, Hanwell, London, W.7.



In 1979, the 'Tyne and Wear Passenger Transport Executive' ('Executive'), of Newcastle upon Tyne, published a 16 page booklet entitled 'Sunderland Transport - The First Hundred Years'. A quite large booklet - 11 5/8 x 8 1/4 in. in size.

I present here 15 of the 16 pages - to permit site visitors to both see & read it for themselves. The 16th page, the back cover, is essentially blank, with just the publisher name as above recorded.

Please note that I have not sought the permission of 'Executive' for including the booklet here. I rather doubt, however, whether they would be concerned at the inclusion here of a booklet published almost 32 years ago & never republished. And if they are concerned, I will of course remove it - but with considerable regret, because it does present the 'Sunderland Transport' history, in a most comprehensive & attractive manner.

The fine cover image. And then all the pages.

Each thumbnail image below is 'clickable'.

May I suggest that you navigate the site via the index on page 001.PRIOR PAGE / NEXT PAGE

Do you want to make a comment? A site guestbook is here.

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