Britain’s first black bus driver was Joe Clough of Bedford – who is celebrated in new play Bedford News

Farewell Leicester Square celebrates the life of Joe Clough

Britain’s first black bus driver – who lived in Bedford – will be celebrated in a new play that will debut in an outdoor performance at The Place Theater.

The play was written by Neil Gore based on a poem by Abe Gibson and tells the story of Joe Clough who drove his General Omnibus Company Type B bus from Liverpool Street to Wormwood Scrubs in the heart of London from 1910 to 1914.

Joe clough

Joe was a horse and carriage driver in Jamaica, before moving to Britain with his employer and learning to drive new cars. He passed his omnibus driving test in 1910 and drove field ambulances to Ypres during the First World War.

After the war Joe made his home with his family in Bedford, driving the National Omnibus Company, before purchasing his own taxi after World War II, which he drove until his retirement in the 1960s.

Writer Neil Gore explained: “I think Joe Clough himself would be delighted to know that his life was the inspiration for a play, although perhaps surprised, since he was, obviously, a male. very modest.

“But his life story is so rich and rich because of his desire to be so actively involved and fascinated with whatever came his way; that he was so enthusiastic, capable and fully exploiting his skills, meant that he just couldn’t be ignored, and that made him a very attractive and likeable person.

Joe Clough drove his bus from Liverpool Street to Wormwood Scrubs through the heart of London from 1910 to 1914

“His life has been very eventful; he was orphaned in Jamaica and became fascinated with horses and found work in the stables of the Polo Club of Jamaica. His skills did not go unnoticed by the riders and sportsmen of the club and he was offered more work as a horseman and driver of Kingston’s chief surgeon’s carriage.

“Joe was so reliable that this doctor offered Joe more work at his London home as a trusted servant and companion. As a teenager, Joe had to make the huge decision to start a new life in England. his last few years of being resourceful and he quickly learned to drive new motor cars and then new motorized omnibuses for which he is most famous. “

The theater company also hopes to trace Joe’s descendants.

Neil added: “There is so much to celebrate in his story as he overcame any hint of inequality, swept aside occasional racism, instead offering only his best in his contributions to his family, his co-workers. , his neighbors, his war comrades and the local community of his adopted home in Bedford.

“That’s why we decided to tell her story; like him, it is simply a story that cannot be ignored. This is also why we would like his family members to join us in celebrating his life and sharing with them all the research that has been discovered about him; to remember the modest and lovable Joe Clough, who was also a true pioneer. “

Farewell Leicester Square will be performed in its converted box hall The Talking Horse in the parking lot of the Place Theater in Bedford on Thursday 1st and Friday 2nd July.

Tickets for Farewell Leicester Square are ‘Pay What You Can’ and can be purchased online or by calling 01234-354321

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This notice was published: 2021-05-17 17:26:08