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Tickets & Machines

Ticket Machines and Bus Tickets used by Glasgow Corporation Transport
On the left a Bell Punch "Ultimate" & on the right a "TIM" (Ticket Issue Machines Ltd )

Bell  Punch  tickets were used on both trams and buses, and, indeed,  briefly on trolleybuses. Initially, tickets were of  the geographical type, i.e. fare stages were  listed  by name, but later the more  flexible  system of using tickets printed with fare  stage numbers was introduced. During  the 1930's,  the TIM system was adopted by the tramways. In the early 1950's, Ultimate machines were  introduced on buses and trolleybuses and later on the trams. These were still in use when the  P.T.E. took over in 1973, the machines having been adapted for use on one-man buses.


Original Bell Punch Machine

By email February 2005 from John Walker

I notice you are still on the lookout for ex GCT stuff, including ticket machines. I do not have any Ultimate machines for sale, but if you are ever offered one as a guaranteed ex-Glasgow machine, beware. The reason for this is that the machines were leased from the Bell Punch Company, and were sent back for refurbishment from time to time. The machines would then be sent to whoever required them, so a machine starting off in Glasgow could end up in Liverpool or Leeds, or anywhere else that used them. Similarly a " Glasgow" machine could have started off in  Birmingham, or wherever so its difficult to say a machine was a "Glasgow" ticket machine, as it will be impossible to trace its actual origin. It is likely that some kind of records may have been kept by Bell Punch, but I am reliably informed that these have been lost forever, and in any case few if any 5 unit machines carry serial numbers.

One of my machines was definitely used in Birmingham, as a conductor has used the leather patch on the back to lean on when completing his/her waybill and the name "Harborne" is indented onto the leather. I also have another unidentifiable 5 unit machine, and two ex - London Transport 6 unit machines (I know these are ex LT, because of a trip counter modification specified by London). I believe I have another 6 unit machine which someone tried to convince me had spent its entire life in Wolverhampton.

The sad fact is that anyone who knows how to insert the appropriate printing plate into most machine makes can pass them off as being whatever they fancy. This is not possible on some early Setright machines, which Alice would have used with Western, and which will bear a manufacturer's serial number. Believe it or not, a register of these numbers with the operators supplied has been produced, so it is possible to check what you are buying. The later machines were made in Belfast, where they weren't given serial numbers, and it would be impossible to state with any certainty whether the machine is what the seller claims it to be. In any case, Setrights were never used by GCT, so I don't suppose you'd be looking for any. It's just in case Alice takes a notion for a memory of her Western days. (She did and we have one, I must check the serial number against that register.) 

I would reckon the two TIM machines you have will be genuine ex- GCT, as the red ink, Corporation printing plates, and machine boxes would tend to confirm. The easiest machines to "doctor" are the Swedish made Almex ones which I doubt you'll have ever used. Prior to the TIM and Ultimate machine Glasgow used the original Bell Punch machines which simply punched a hole in a pre-printed ticket which would have either borne a stage number, or in the case of a "geographical" ticket, the name of the stage. In that system each service would require its own tickets. A little bell would ring each time the punch was activated as a signal to the passenger that a genuine ticket was being "rung" up. Although my interest in GCT does not go back far enough, I think Glasgow used the geographical system, at least on the trams. The Bell Punch machines did have serial numbers, but I don't know where you would be able to find any lists of what was supplied to who. So, again, be wary of sellers claiming that these wee machines are ex-Glasgow, or ex- anywhere for that matter.


By email July 2005 from Bob Wingrove

Whilst reading your website pages I checked out the comments made by John Walker about Ultimate machines.

Have to correct him in that he says 5 barrel machines did not carry serial numbers. That not true. ALL Ultimate family machines have a 'Chassis' number and it was this number that Bell Punch used to track and record the whereabouts or each machine. These records comprised bound ledgers of various sizes and each machine was tracked for all of its life. From these records it is possible to know where all machines went and thus say if a machine was a 'Glasgow' machine or not.

As for saying that the records have been lost forever, this is also not true I'm afraid. I was the one who rescued the records from Bell punch in 1988. They are all safely tucked up in a museum, so their future is assured. At the same time I was also given the last 200 ultimate machines that were on the premises at Uxbridge and an 1892 Bell Punch Printing press. (its huge!)

Using these records its possible to track all of the variants of Ultimates/Solomatics/Ultimatics/ Roll solomatics/Automatickets etc. Ultimate came in the following variants: 1 barrel, 2 barrel, 5 barrel, 6 barrel and 7 barrel. There was also an experimental 4 barrel machine that was sent to Hong Kong for evaluation. The seven barrel machines (of which I have 2) were made from a six barrel and a five barrel fused together. (you only have to look inside the casing of them to see the
join!) The London Transport machines have several modifications to the units to show and normally have a U number stamped on the top.

If you can tell me your chassis numbers then I can let you know the history of the machine, but this is not something I can do overnight, it will take a few weeks to actually get to the records to check. There are a few late repaired machines that do not have this, they were repaired at the end of record keeping and thus were not recorded.

Incidentally it was a Glasgow Corporation order for about a quarter of a million tickets that went up in flames at Bell punch that lead to GNP (Glasgow Numerical printing) always getting the order for printing the bus tickets. (That is something I know about as I also have the records of the early board meetings too)

The Glasgow TIM machines, well yes there were hundreds of these machines donated to an individual in the 1980's, they are genuine, notice the saw marks across some of the conditions to the left of the ticket, this was done on the withdrawal of the trams as the conditions would only then apply to the buses.

Tim machines were invented by Frank Langdon and derived from a 'Neopost' letter franking machine. They were created originally for a trial with the London General Omnibus Company. I had great pleasure in tracking this gentleman down and spending an afternoon listening to him.

As for Setrights, well yes there are records kept to show where all of them went, not just a serial number but normally a machine number is on the front too. Did you know that the Setright Machine takes its name from Harry Setright? I've had the pleasure of dining with his 2 sons who gave valuable insights into their father.

Hope the above helps, as custodian of about 700 ticket machines and associated items (lost count a few years ago) I'm always keen to see others showing an interest.


By email March 2007 from Briain Longworth

I have been intending to contact you for some time, to say how much I have enjoyed your site. Having worked for a long time in the Head Office of GCT I knew a number of the people mentioned in your contributors' reminiscences and hope to contribute to the site.
In the meantime I am attaching some comments on Bob Wingrove's contribution which you may wish to add.
I was interested to read Bob Wingrove's comments about Ticket Machines but would like to correct a few points about the TIMs.
Firstly, as the purchaser of the remaining TIMs, I can assure him they were not donated to any individual.
GCT sold off quite a number of the machines in the early 1950s to bus operators including Cunningham of Paisley and Paton of Renfrew with the Glasgow Corp Transport name being filed off.  They were also sold off to enthusiasts when requested.    Shortly after I started work in the Head Office, the TIMs were moved to a different store which was when I found some of the earlier models. I bought a couple of these and when some of my enthusiast friends heard about them, bought others for them. After that I bought regular small amounts on behalf of the Scottish Tramway Museum Society as it then was, for resale in aid of funds, and for the Tramway Museum Society, for use on the Glasgow trams running at Crich and for resale in their bookshop. As the fare range was too low for further use I was able to pursuade the powers that be, not to file out the name as they were of more interest to collectors intact.  When a decision was made to close the Head Office in 1982, as the regular purchaser of machines, I was asked to make an offer for the remaining machines which I did and was accepted. I sold these on to Crich and at various bus rallies etc. As soon as I recovered my outlay, the proceeds have been devoted to the preservation and future restoration of Glasgow Duntocher single deck tramcar 1016, now in the GVVT museum in Bridgeton.  The machines originally had values up to 2 1/2d then 6d and 1/- which were the unlimited evening and Sunday tickets issued up to the outbreak of war in 1939. As the maximum fare increased, these values were changed to 3d and 4d and at this time the reference to these tickets were crossed out. TIMs were only used on the trams until replaced by the Ultimates in the late 40s and early 50s. They were then used by new tram conductors in service as part of their training and about half a dozen mostly of the earlier type, which had originally had guillotines, were sent to each of the four bus garages as emergency spares.
With the printing strike in 1959, they were pressed into service in the five remaining tram depots apart from Newlands which retained the Ultimates. They were also issued to the trolleybus section in Dennistoun and to Govan which only had trolleybuses at that time and to Hampden. With a maximum capacity of 4d, tickets had to be 'married' to get the higher values up to 10d. With the ending of the strike, the last of the machines were withdrawn early in September 1959. Apart from the emergency spares TIMs were never used on the buses.

Glasgow Corporation Tramways
Bailey & Duncan's Patent
Machine number 871 stamped on all parts of the machine, it has a clock mechanism with 32 segments. When used it rings a bell.
Used untill about 1911

By email 3 March 2007 from Brian Longworth
Hi Ian
The Punch shown was extensively used only by conductors on the Corporation trams up to about 1911 when they changed on to the Bell Punch.  It may have been used on the Company cars as the Duncan of the Patentees was none other than John Duncan of GTOC. I saw an almost identical one with different names on E-bay about a year ago and it was made in America for American tramways or railways. Others a little bit different were used in Australia but I don't know where they were made.
Like the later Bell Punches they held the clippings so that they could be counted if the conductor was suspected of fraud. The clock mechanism with the 32 segments is actually a counter and like the Bell Punch which had a counter inside the machine, registers every time a ticket is punched in order to check the conductor's honesty.
I hope this is of interest,
Brian Longworth

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