The Coventry Corporation Transport destination blind was a variable message system that consisted of a length of material wrapped around two horizontal rollers, one at the top and one at the bottom, with the messages written horizontally across the material. The material was black and the messages were in white lettering. The displayed message was changed by rotating a small handle. The destination blinds were protected from the elements by a glass panel.
There were two destination blinds at the front of the bus, one over the driver's windscreen and one over the void above the engine housing. There was one at the rear of the near side over the platform and one at the back of the bus. The blinds were all located at the same height, level with the floor of the upper saloon. The winding handles for the two destination blinds at the front were located in the floor of the upper deck, above the engine void. The other two winding handles were located behind internal covers accessed from the platform. An example of the front destination blinds is shown in Figure 1.
The blind over the drivers cab usually displayed a number from 1 to 23, indicating the service number of the route. The route number could also be an "A" route, in which case the display would have been 5A, 8A, etc. In addition to the service number, other displays were possible. "SERVICE EXTRA" indicated a bus that would follow the normal service route but was additional to the timetabled services. Service extras were usually requested by city centre inspectors when the demand was considered greater than the normal service capacity. "SPECIAL" indicated a non-service bus, such as a works or school service. "PRIVATE" usually indicated that the service had been specially chartered. A works name indicated that the service started from the works indicated.
The other blinds usually indicated the route terminus. In addition to the route terminus, other displays were possible. Services which terminated in the city were indicated by "CITY" or "CITY POOL MEADOW". This also applied to short service workings, particularly either side of peak periods, when buses would run to the city and then await a scheduled slot, either on the same route or on a different route. Works services usually displayed the destination works. Other messages were also available, such as "HARNALL LANE GARAGE" or "SANDY LANE GARAGE" for buses returning to the garage after a period of duty.
It was the responsibility of the conductor to change the blinds. When the bus reached the terminus, the conductor would open the covers over the platform and change the destination. The front winding handles were reached via a step at the front to the engine housing. Sometimes the service number needed to be changed as well, for example from 16 to 16A. The service number was occasionally changed at the City when a bus changed routes, or was routed to one of the two garages.
One of the characteristics of Coventry Transport destination blinds was the tapered writing where the message was too long for the blind. An example is shown in Figure 2.
Figure 1: Mal Jones
Figure 2: Len Wright