Joe Clough (1887-1976) was not only one of London’s first Black bus drivers, but he was also among the first drivers of the mechanised motorbuses that replaced the horse-drawn buses.
Born in Kingston, Jamaica in 1887, Clough worked for a Scottish doctor, Dr RC White. When Dr White came over to England, he brought Clough with him and after learning to drive as his employer’s chauffeur, he managed in 1910 to secure a job as a bus driver with LGOC. He drove the Route 11 between Liverpool Street and Wormwood Scrubs.
In 1915, Clough joined the Army Service Corps at Kempston Barracks and drove an ambulance on the Western front in France until the end of the War. Clough was a popular member of the Army Service Corps and he was the captain of the cricket team. Yet as one of few black soldiers, he was sometimes the victim of racism. Demobbed in 1919, he became a member of the Royal Legion and joined the National Omnibus Company at Bedford, where he lived with his wife Margaret. Between the world wars, Clough would drive an open-topped bus in Cambridgeshire every year on Remembrance Day.
Joe Clough’s story can be seen in a video made by a group of young people from the Theatre Royal Stratford East that features in our Goodbye Piccadilly: From Home Front to Western Front exhibition, on until 8 March 2015.
The story of London’s busmen at the front is also told in our new book by Dr William Ward, Ole Bill – Londons Buses and the First World War.
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