Tim Lewis obituary

Other lives: Founder and owner of a coach company in Richmond upon Thames, where he was a Liberal councillor for 12 years

In 1963 my friend Tim Lewis, who has died aged 80, bought a double-decker bus with a fellow university student, which, driven by Tim, “starred” in the Beatles’ film A Hard Day’s Night. The bus, which took students on camping holidays and was kept outside Tim’s parents’ house close to Twickenham Studios in south west London, had been spotted by a producer. It later appeared in other films, including To Sir, With Love. Tim’s love affair with transport was sealed, and he went on to run a bus company and work as a transport passenger executive in South Yorkshire.

Born in Chelsea, London, Tim was the only child of Harriette (nee Weiner), a housewife, and Bernard Lewis, a barrister. When, at Rugby school, he and two others launched a soccer team called the Rugby Rebels, the news made the papers. The headmaster was not amused, and Tim and his friends were carpeted.

After Rugby, Tim studied engineering and law at University College London, graduating in 1963. He then read for the bar but gave it up to set up Continental Pioneer coach company, in Richmond upon Thames. His coaches were based in the former sidings at Richmond station, and he ran the company until the depot was repossessed for development in 1982-83. During this time Tim was a Liberal councillor on Richmond council (1975-87), and was instrumental in introducing a used-paper collection, among the first in the country.

Tim met Moray Jones, then a midwife, on a bus trip to Europe in 1964. They married the following year, and went on to have a daughter, Tania, and a son, Dan. In 1987 the family moved to South Yorkshire, where Tim combined being a senior manager for the South Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive (SYPTE) with running a small pig farm. A colleague, Mike Smith, recalls a man who cared nothing for his appearance.

Tim drove an ancient, Morse-type Jag, left to him by his father, who had been a county court judge before his death. One day Tim was seeking to clear the car’s engine by driving at high speed when he was spotted by police. They were about to throw the book at him when their computer threw up the name and status of his late father. Mistaking Tim for his dad, the police were all smiles and Tim was on his way – with “Have a good day, your honour” ringing in his ears.

After Tim retired from SYPTE in 2004, he and Moray moved to South Milton in Devon. He became a parish councillor and a local mover and shaker, writing a plan for the development of the village. For his golden wedding, he chartered a steam train, with lunch on board, that ran from Buckfastleigh to Totnes, and back. When he died, South Milton residents lowered their many flags to half-mast.

Tim is survived by Moray, Tania and Dan, and his grandchildren, Megan and Ella.


Robert Chesshyre

The GuardianTramp

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