Nundah Bus Service (I.G. Franklin)

The Nundah Bus Service is one of Brisbane’s lesser known private bus operations. Proprietor Ivan Godfred Franklin was originally a body builder by trade at Austral Motors, before starting his own dairy farm at Gellibrand Street, Clayfield. Ivan’s first involvement with buses was when he drove for Jack Ford’s Sandgate Bus Service, who operated services from Eagle Street in the City to Brighton and Shorncliffe.

In September 1949, Ivan entered the bus industry in his own right with the purchase of passenger licence 105 (Clayfield Tram Terminus-East Nundah-Wavell Heights) from Mr George Merland Burke for £3,600. Three petrol-powered Internationals were included in this sale and comprised of a 26-passenger B3 model, a 35-passenger D40 model, and a 34-passenger KS5 model. The latter two vehicles were bodied by Watt Bros of Woolloongabba.

The newest vehicle purchased from Mr Burke was this 1946 Watt Bros bodied International KS5 registered Q420-123 and pictured at the Clayfield Tram Terminus on 1 April 1950. Photo: Vic Hayes
The oldest bus acquired from Mr Burke was this 1934 Watt Bros bodied International B3 registered Q451-159 and seating 26 passengers. It was pictured on Rode Road, Wavell Heights on 7 May 1950. Photo: Vic Hayes
RegistrationQTPChassisBody BuilderSeats
Q346-4640832International D40Watt Bros35
Q420-1230831International K5Watt Bros34
Q451-1590703International B3Watt Bros26

A fourth International bus, not yet approved for use on the passenger service, was purchased separately from Mr Burke who had only recently acquired the vehicle from Brisbane City Council on 9 August 1949. This vehicle was a KS5 model with Thomas Gardiner & Sons bodywork that had been compulsorily acquired by Council with the Yeerongpilly Bus Service a year earlier. These vehicles were initially stored at Ivan’s Gellibrand Street property at Clayfield.

This 1944 Thomas Gardiner & Sons bodied International KS5 registered Q473-351 was purchased separate to the business transaction as Mr Burke had only recently acquired the vehicle from Brisbane City Council, shortly before selling out to Ivan Franklin in September 1949. Photo: Vic Hayes

Council applies to takeover services

Just months into operating his new enterprise, Ivan learned that Brisbane City Council had resolved in late February 1950 to apply to the Commissioner for Transport to compulsorily acquire his passenger service licence pursuant to State Transport Facilities Act 1946 (Qld). This was the second stage of private bus takeovers by the Council following their acquisition of 20 services operating from various suburbs into the city between 1947 and 1948. On 3 April 1950, Brisbane City Council served Ivan with a notice of acquisition for passenger licence 105, which was already due to expire at the end of the month. To balance the interests of both parties, the Commissioner extended Ivan’s licence for a further two year period until midnight on 30 April 1952, with the Council to be issued a licence to operate from 1 May 1952.

In June 1950, Ivan commenced negotiations with Nundah Bus Service proprietors Messrs Harold Denham West Adam and Ernest Peter Christensen, to acquire their business which held passenger service licence 103 (Kalinga Tram Terminus-Nundah Railway Station-Lutwyche Tram Terminus). Although this operation was also subject to compulsory acquisition by Brisbane City Council on 30 April 1952, Ivan was undeterred and pressed ahead in order to expand his operation in a westerly direction and eliminate a neighbouring competitor. The transaction completed in September 1950 for £5,750 on the condition that the Council retained its right to acquire both services upon the expiration of each respective licence.

An elderly fleet of five vehicles were acquired from Adam and Christensen consisting of two Dodges, a Bedford, a Ford-powered Reo, and a Mack. The vehicles were painted in a livery of chocolate brown and blue and were all adorned with fleet names. The condition of these vehicles was so poor that Ivan was forced to expend a further £2,000 on mechanical and body repairs. As part of the transaction, Ivan was also assigned the lease of depot premises at 15 Nundah Street, Nundah which was owned by former bus proprietor, John Lynn. It then made sense to house Ivan’s other buses at this central location instead of his Clayfield residence.

Bus NameRegistrationQTPChassisBody BuilderSeats
The MajesticQ391-0370811Bedford OBWatt Bros33
The MarquisQ414-1601026Reo – Ford30
The MonarchQ289-0450810Dodge26
The PresidentQ394-9791033Mack EGMotor Body Assemblers41
The RegentQ308-2470809Dodge29
One of five buses acquired with the Nundah Bus Service from Messrs Adam and Christensen in October 1950 was this 33-passenger Watt Bros bodied Bedford OB registered Q391-037, named ‘The Majestic’. Photo: Vic Hayes
‘The Monarch’ Q289-045 was one of two 1934 Dodge buses that were purchased by then-proprietor, John Lynn. It was the smaller of the two vehicles and seated 26 passengers. Photo: Vic Hayes
‘The President’ Q394-979 was an EG Mack bodied by Motor Body Assemblers in 1945 for Queensland Transport Agencies trading as Blue and Red Buses on the Gold Coast. It was pictured here at the Kalinga Tram Terminus alongside Council tram 410. Photo: Vic Solomons

In November 1950, Ivan purchased a Charles Hope bodied Morris Saurer diesel bus seating 31 passengers from Howards Ltd for £3,345. This was the first and only diesel-powered vehicle Ivan would purchase. In January 1951, Ivan wrote to Brisbane City Council to obtain their consent to the sale of his B3 model International, as this vehicle was included in the notice of acquisition issued on 3 April 1950. The Council advised that no objection would be raised to the sale if Ivan gave an undertaking that he could and would maintain an adequate and efficient service until such time as the Council were prepared to take over his service. Such an undertaking was provided and approval to dispose of the vehicle was accordingly granted.

New service to Stafford and Everton Park

After Thomas Grano decided to surrender his licence to operate between the Alderley and Lutwyche tram termini, tenders were called to take on the service with applications due by 12.00pm on 30 July 1951. When no applications were received, the Commissioner for Transport managed to entice Ivan to conduct a service between the Lutwyche and Stafford tram routes extending along Stafford Road to Trouts Road at Everton Park. Although Ivan was initially reluctant to take on this new service, it would ultimately prove to be a wise decision as new housing developments were planned for the area.

By early 1952, the profitability of Ivan’s enterprise had increased appreciably after initially running at a loss to keep the vehicles on the road. In view of the impending compulsory takeover of his business, Ivan successfully negotiated with the Department of Transport to continue operating the cross-town service between Clayfield and Everton Park via Lutwyche and Stafford, along with a limited co-ordinated peak hour service from Wavell Heights to Nundah Railway Station, on a trial basis for three months under permit. In order to facilitate this, the Council agreed to withdraw the two KS5 International buses from the list of vehicles nominated in their notice of acquisition.

Council acquires majority of business

On 30 April 1952, Ivan Franklin handed over seven buses along with a range of spare parts to Brisbane City Council in exchange for £8000 in compensation. From 1 May 1952, the Council began operating services into North Quay from Kalinga, Northgate, and Wavell Heights for the first time, while Ivan continued to operate his two local services under trial along with school runs into Wavell Heights and Nundah State Schools.

Two of seven buses acquired by Brisbane City Council from Ivan Franklin with licences 103 and 105 on 30 April 1952 was (221) a 1950 Charles Hope bodied Morris Saurer diesel purchased new, and (226) a 1945 Motor Body Assemblers bodied Mack EG acquired from Nundah Bus Service. Photo: Ken Magor
RegistrationQTPChassisBody BuilderSeats
Q516-747Morris – Saurer DieselCharles Hope Ltd31
Q394-9791033Mack EGMotor Body Assemblers41
Q346-4640832International D40Watt Bros35
(ex Q391-037)
Bedford OB – DodgeWatt Bros33
Q414-1601026Reo – Ford30

Upon the expiration of the trial period in July 1952, Ivan reported that these services were performing satisfactorily. In need of another bus to keep up with demand, Ivan sourced a 1948 Watt Bros bodied Reo 20CHS of forward-control design that was built new for Arthur Riley at Lismore. The fleet was then repainted into a uniform livery of all-over cream with Zenith Blue band under the window line. In November 1952, the extended permit authorising the operation of services was converted by the Department of Transport to become licence 192 (Clayfield-Lutwyche-Stafford-Everton Park).

In September 1953, approval was granted for a two-month trial of a deviation from Stafford Road into Kidgell Street, Castling Street, Ferricks Street, Midson Street, Trouts Road and Stafford Road to Everton Park and vice versa, after morning peak on weekdays and all day Saturday and Sunday. This deviation was permanently incorporated into Ivan’s licence during December 1953.

Pictured outside the Valley Pool on charter is No. 3, a 1948 Watt Bros bodied Reo 20CHS, followed by the two International KS5 buses, No. 4 and No. 1. Photo: Greg Franklin

Expansion of Stafford services

In December 1954, Ivan sought to inaugurate a day and night service between the Stafford and Grange tram termini to be run in conjunction with his Everton Park service, to allow for a half-hourly frequency along Stafford Road to Everton Park. While the extension to the Grange was refused by the Commissioner for Transport, the service between Stafford and Everton Park was upgraded to a half-hourly frequency. Further second hand buses were then added to the fleet including a Syd Wood bodied Reo 2LM from Bill White’s Cribb Island Bus Service in May 1955, and an OB Bedford believed to have been purchased from Hornibrook Highway Bus Service.

In order to cater for a growing number of passengers in West Stafford, the deviation from Stafford Road was altered in April 1956 to run via Ogden Street, Armfield Street, Kidgell Street and Stafford Road to Everton Park. At this time, Ivan’s fleet comprised five buses. In the financial year ending 30 June 1956, gross revenue of £15,030 was generated for a net profit of £1,992. On 13 August 1956, the principal route was again amended to provide for certain trips into the newly opened Somerset Hills Estate from Webster Road into Minimine Street, Dunedoo Street, Pateena Street, Victor Street and through to Stafford Road.

Nundah Bus Service routes as of 13 August 1956

On 15 February 1957, Ivan purchased a second hand Reo 20CHS chassis from Brisbane City Council with the view to fitting a new bus body to it. The chassis was taken to Cribb Island where it was overhauled by mechanic Phil White, and later fitted with a body built by brother Ray White on weekends at the IBIS Garage at Sandgate. The IBIS bodies were a cheaper alternative to those produced by larger body builders but naturally took longer to build as they were completed on weekends and in spare time. To coincide with the opening of the Allan and Stark Drive-in Shopping Centre at Chermside on 30 May 1957, Ivan extended his routes to this marketplace as follows:

  • Clayfield Tram Terminus-Wavell Heights-Chermside-Lutwyche-Stafford-Everton Park
  • Clayfield Tram Terminus-Northgate-Wavell Heights-Chermside

Declining profitability

In the financial year ending 30 June 1957, gross revenue of £17,721 was generated for a net profit of £1,181, which was £810 less than the previous period. This justified an increase in fares on the licensed service which was approved in April 1958. In August 1957, the fleet grew to six vehicles with the acquisition of a second hand 30-passenger Athol Hedges bodied International L160, producing a total carrying capacity of 313 passengers. In December 1957, the deviation at Stafford into the Somerset Hills Estate was deleted from the licence due to insufficient patronage.

Pictured at the Clayfield Tram Terminus is No. 6 NDT-673 an Athol Hedges bodied International L160 purchased during August 1957. Photo: Robert Thomson

In 1959, the bodying of the second hand Reo 20CHS chassis was finalised by the IBIS Garage at Sandgate. The running gear of this vehicle was overhauled and fitted with a Fordson Thames Trader motor and Seddon front axle. This became the largest vehicle in Ivan’s fleet seating 52 passengers. In September 1959, Ivan purchased the 15 Nundah Street depot premises from John Lynn, who had held title to property for 24 years. This was followed by the purchase of the adjoining residential block and then the sawmill next door to that. In 1960, the IBIS Garage outshopped another new body for Ivan but this time on a Commer truck chassis that was overhauled and re-powered with another Fordson Thames Trader motor.

No. 8 NHR-194 was a second hand Reo 20CHS chassis re-powered with a Fordson Thames Trader motor and fitted with a Seddon front axle. It was bodied by the IBIS Garage of Sandgate and seated 52 passengers. Photo: Bob Nean
No. 9 was another body product of the IBIS Garage but was fitted onto a second hand Commer truck chassis re-powered with a Fordson Thames Trader motor during 1960. It is pictured outside the IBIS Garage at 69 Deagon Street, Sandgate. Photo: Phil White

New services to West Chermside

In 1961, a new feeder service commenced operation from the Chermside tram terminus to the Marylands housing estate at West Chermside. Ivan took another leap of faith after Brisbane City Council declined to operate it themselves for economic reasons. This ultimately paid dividends as this service become more profitable than the Everton Park portion of the licence. The fleet grew again to accommodate this growth with the purchase of an IBIS Garage bodied Commer from George Batten of Kingscliff, New South Wales. This vehicle was barely a year old and was virtually identical to No. 9 except that it was fitted with a rear freight compartment. This was shortly followed by the delivery of a new 41-passenger Athol Hedges body on Fordson Thames Trader chassis, which entered the fleet as No. 11.

In December 1961, the Commissioner for Transport rejected separate proposals from Ivan and Brisbane City Council to run direct bus services from the West Stafford area into the City. Instead, the Council was advised that it would need to apply to the Commissioner to acquire Ivan’s licence in accordance with the State Transport Act 1960 (Qld). Additionally, the Commissioner was cognisant that:

Action to arbitrarily eliminate the private operator would seriously upset the bus industry and have a very retarding effect on their present efforts to provide efficient services.

Fleet continues to grow

In October 1962, a second Fordson Thames Trader with Athol Hedges bodywork was delivered as No. 12. Concurrently, Ivan’s son Greg was working to modify a Mack chassis by joining it with a Commer front end. This was undertaken to stabilise the chassis as the Mack was too narrow. An Athol Hedges body supplied in kit form was then fitted to this chassis by Greg and his brother-in-law, Don Walker, in the depot garage. This vehicle was completed in 1963 and became No. 7, replacing the former Cribb Island Reo that had been sold six years earlier to Fred and Edna Linning of Gatton Bus Service.

In January 1964, Ivan added a new Athol Hedges bodied Bedford SB3 with high back seating to his fleet for charter purposes. This was ultimately the last vehicle purchased by the Nundah Bus Service.

Proprietor Ivan Franklin (left) and his son Greg Franklin (right) are pictured alongside No. 10, an IBIS Garage bodied Commer that was built new for George Batten in northern New South Wales. Photo: Greg Franklin
No. 11 NNC-562 was a new 41-passenger Athol Hedges body on Fordson Thames Trader chassis delivered in 1961. Photo: Ken Magor
No. 12 NPD-475 was the second Athol Hedges bodied Fordson Thames Trader and was delivered in October 1962. Photo: Bob Nean
No. 1 NSN-074 was the last vehicle purchased by the Nundah Bus Service and was delivered in January 1964. It was a Bedford SB3 chassis with Athol Hedges 41-passenger body. It was sold to Amberley Rosewood Bus Co. Ltd of Ipswich on 30 July 1965. Photo: Greg Franklin

Council applies to takeover remaining services

Unfortunately the growth of Ivan’s operation did not go unnoticed by Brisbane City Council who formally applied on 4 March 1964 to the Commissioner for Transport to acquire his licence pursuant to section 54(1) of the State Transport Act 1960 (Qld) . By this stage, Nundah Bus Service were carrying 5000 passengers a day in Nundah, Clayfield, Wavell Heights, Northgate, Chermside, Lutwyche, Marylands, Stafford, West Stafford, and Everton Park. Additionally, Ivan’s son Greg and son-in-law Don Walker had been lined up to take over the business.

On 19 October 1964, the Commissioner for Transport approved Council’s application to acquire the licensed service from Clayfield-Lutwyche-Stafford-Everton Park which was provided under licence 192 and due to expire on 30 April 1965. The Commissioner for Transport was legally required to determine the application at least 6 months’ prior to the licence expiry date.

Council considered that it did not require any of Ivan’s buses nor any other property to carry on the services themselves. Accordingly, Ivan was left to find new owners for his fleet of nine buses upon expiration of his licence. With a month remaining until the takeover, Ivan was approached by Brisbane City Council in March 1965 to continue operating the West Chermside feeder service. However, this proposal was declined with Nundah Bus Service operating licensed passenger services for the final time on Friday, 30 April 1965.

From Saturday, 1 May 1965, Brisbane City Council operated new direct services into the City. This was the first Council takeover of a private operator in 13 years. Five bus drivers accepted offers of employment with Brisbane City Council and they were as follows:

NameLength of service (approx).
Mr. V.L. King16 years
Mr. R. Goatley1 year
Mr. D.P. Sullivan15 years
Mr. W.J. King1.5 years
Mr. F.W. Waldron22 years

End of operations

Following intense negotiations with Council, a compensation offer of £7,500 was accepted by Ivan on 1 July 1965 for the loss of his enterprise. Ivan continued to operate charter services under permit for about 12 months until his remaining buses were sold. The properties in Nundah Street were retained by the Franklin family for a number of decades with the original depot site leased to Repco.

The Nundah Bus Service fleet pictured after losing their passenger service licence to Brisbane City Council on 30 April 1965. Photo: Phil White