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Mystery drama

Mystery drama

Twenty Turbulent Years

by Peter Rowlands and Stewart J Brown

Twenty Turbulent Years – front coverIn 1980 the vast majority of buses in Great Britain were in public ownership. Twenty years later, virtually all of them were run by the private sector. 

It was a massive transformation, and in the course of it the industry went through a long, sometimes painful upheaval. Newly independent regional and local bus companies blossomed and then merged into bigger groups. Local authority bus ownership, still a major component of the industry in 1980, shrank steadily as the government encouraged local authorities to sell their bus operations. Long-established bus factories were closed amid uncertainty about future orders.

It may have been a troubled period, but it was also a spectacularly colourful one. Many bus operators adopted a “look at me” approach to their vehicles, and in some cases that meant bright and imaginative new liveries, often with a strongly local flavour. 

Twenty Turbulent Years, published in summer 2022, celebrates that time with more than 275 stunning colour photographs by Peter Rowlands and fascinating commentary by industry expert Stewart J Brown, who charts the dismemberment and re-forming of the industry with characteristic humour and an eye for unexpected detail.

About this book – and how to buy it

Twenty Tubulent Years is a 144-page hardback book printed on high-quality paper and published by Fawndoon Publishing, a small specialist publishing business. It is available from selected UK booksellers, or can be ordered direct from the publisher. 

It measures 250mm x 215mm, its ISBN is 978-0-9934831-5-8, and it is priced at £30.

Click here to go to the book page on the Fawndoon web site, where you can buy it.


My life in transport photography 

AEC Regent III in Newcast;eIn a former day job I was paid to write about and photograph trucks and freighting. Bus photography was an unpaid sideline that grew out of that work and blossomed into a lifelong interest. My most active period was from 1980 to 2000, and for me Twenty Turbulent Years is a celebration of the pictures I took back then, and an opportunity to share them with the world.

For readers I hope it’s much more. Stewart Brown’s well-judged narrative, with occasional interpolations from me, brings life to the images, giving perspective to the UK’s bus industry story and reflecting the extraordinary changes that were going on at that time.

Examples of double-page spreads

An explosion of new liveries and activities

popup|Competition for the PTEs. Photographs © Peter Rowlands 

Second lives for London buses

popup|Second lives for London buses. Photographs © Peter Rowlands

The growth of the new industry giants

popup|Twenty Turbulent Years – the growth of Stagecoach. Photographs © Peter Rowlands

Any buses in my novels?

If you’re wondering where to look for buses in my mystery novels, the answer is that you won’t actually find many. I’ve drawn heavily on my experience of logistics in my books, but I thought I should keep my interest in buses separate. However, a fictitious former bus company does make an appearance in my second novel, Deficit of Diligence. The leading character finds a photograph of one of its vehicles in an imaginary book – a half-cab AEC Regal single-decker from the late 1940s. But who was the bodybuilder? Suggestions please!


© Peter Rowlands 2022





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