Clough, Joe

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Joe Clough was born in Jamaica in 1887 and orphaned at an early age. He became the first Black bus driver of a London motorbus.

As a boy, he was employed by a Scottish doctor, Dr R C White, to look after his polo ponies. In 1905 while they were returning from a dance at the governor's house in Kingston, they had a conversation that was to change Clough's life. Dr White asked him, 'How would you like to go to England?' 'Well,' replied Clough, 'I'd like that very much'. He was 18 years old.

In winter 1906 Clough came over to Britain as White's servant and companion. He would have needed the brand new warm underwear he was wearing when he landed in Bristol. The first things Clough noticed were the trees. On remarking, 'Dr White, why are there so many dead trees about?' he was told that it was winter. Clough commented later, 'We don't have trees like that in Jamaica, I'd never seen anything like it before.' He was never to see his old home again.

When Clough arrived in London, he drove Dr White around town in his coach and horses. However, the doctor was keen to try out the new motorcars, which were becoming popular; so Clough learnt to drive and became the doctor's chauffeur.

Clough remembered later that, after he had left the doctor's employ, the White would entertain him in the drawing room, treating him as an equal in spite of the attitudes of the day. 'The doctor was a lovely man. After I left him, I could go to see him, go up to the front door, knock, saying "Is the doctor in?" He treated us just the same as you and me talking together, no nose in the air.'

In 1910, Clough applied to work at London General Omnibus Company (L.G.O.C). He became a spare driver. He passed his bus driving test and started driving a number 11 B.-type bus between Liverpool Street and Wormwood Scrubs. Joe Clough was the first Black London bus driver.

Alternate Names

  • Clough, Joseph

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