Cynthia found the photograph "behind another photograph in my late paternal grandmother's family photograph album. She lived all her life in Royton, Lancashire, so I assume that is where the horse bus photograph was taken - or very near there anyway." The coach is of a type that I would initially associate with the late 19th or very early 20th Century, perhaps just prior to or around the time that trams (both horse drawn and electrified) were introduced. It is being drawn by three horses. There are several people in the photo, including:
- the driver up on top, holding the reins, and wearing a coat and top hat,
- a smaller man or boy seated to his right, wearing a peaked cap, perhaps a baggage handler (or in this part of the world, he might be called an "offsider"),
- a man standing on the ground at the back of the coach, wearing a cap and with what looks like a bag across his shoulder, probably selling tickets, and
- possibly another small person, or child, seated on the top of the coach, near the back, although this is not very clear.
There is some writing on a front left hand panel of the coach, but it's not clear enough for me to make out what is written.
Horse-drawn omnibus in London, early 20th Century
Image © and courtesy of Old Bailey Proceedings Online
The Old Bailey web site has this image of a somewhat smaller horse-drawn omnibus accompanying an article on early transport, demonstrating its use in the early 20th Century, as evidenced by the early motor car behind it.
George Fawcett Carriages of Saintfield in Northern Ireland has this image of another small "omnibus," apparently of a design from a similar era, available for hire.
Horse-drawn omnibus in Sydney, Australia, 1895
Image © and courtesy of Andrew Friar
This image of an old postcard shows a very similar omnibus to that in Cynthia's photograph, but located in Sydney, Australia and dated 1895.
This image is of a "double-decker" horse-drawn bus operating in the Derby area, probably in the late 1890s.
A similar horse-drawn bus in this image is apparently destined for use along the Ashbourne Road in Derby, although no passengers have yet boarded. The gentleman at the back appears to be the conductor. Although the caption to this image, which appears in Harry Butterton's Victorian Derby: A Portrait of Life in a 19th-century Manufacturing Town (publ. 2006, Breedon Books, ISBN 978-1859835333), states that is was taken c.1880, this appears very unlikely. The buildings behind the bus are the Derby Tramways Office (at left) and the Athenaeum (at right) - the former was built around 1904, which provides an earliest date for the photograph. It is very similar in style to the London bus shown above, which was also from the early 20th Century.
Both the bus pictured in this image and the previous one have spiral steps at the back, leading to the top deck. The bus shown in Cynthia's photograph is of an earlier type which used a vertical ladder instead.
If anyone can provide further insights into the date that Cynthia's omnibus photo is likely to have been taken, I would be most grateful.