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‘Rat trap’ ticket holder and tickets

Before the introduction of Ticket Issue Machines in the late 1940s, bus tickets had to be pre-printed. The conductor, whose job it was to check and sell tickets to passengers, carried a collection of different tickets, with different prices for different types of journeys. There were tickets for children and adults, single and return journeys, and journeys of different lengths. Fare stages were roughly every second or third stop.

'Rat trap' ticket holder and tickets, c.1947

The numbers down the long sides of the ticket show the fare stages on a journey. The conductor had to punch a hole next to the relevant number to show where the passenger had boarded the bus using a special metal clipper. Because of this, conductors – especially women – were often called ‘clippies’. The different colours helped the conductor quickly select the right ticket. At the end of the shift, all the tiny coloured dots clipped from the ticket would be sorted and counted by someone known as a ‘confetti counter’, to make sure the correct fares had been taken and handed over to the bus company.

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