Leslie James Meaden Nind was born in 1925, an only child to Walter Fredrick Nind and Emma Sarah Nind (Previously Tarrent) When Les was aged 13, his father got him a job to work in a Butchers, where he earned 12’6 (62.5p). A Job he didnt enjoy, as he had to walk to Stanwell and back to deliver goods.
Les then got a job in the Co-op, which paid him a little more. There he stayed, until aged 19, Les was sent to India to join the war effort. He joined the Fourteenth Army, and spent his time in India doing Jungle training. From India, the Fourteenth Army were sent to various parts of Asia to fight the Japanese. War ended in 1945, but wasn’t until 1947 Les was shipped home.
On coming home, Les’s father said he could no longer live at his home and sent him away. The next few nights Les spent on a park bench, until he was able to find suitable accommodation.
In 1950, Les married his childhood sweetheart, Joan Buck.
Les then got a job with London Transport as a Bus driver. At this time, Les decided to dabble in a bit of painting, to help him forget the horrors of war. He found out was was actually quite good at it. He entered a painting in an exhibition, which then got him noticed. He set up an art group with the London Transport Workers, and had paintings which were hung at the London Transport Art Show in Charing Cross. Les became quite a celebrity at this time, featuring in many papers of the day, photographers would follow him to his bus to get picture. Consequently he became known as the bearded busman.
The story Les tells for having a beard:- The green bus drivers got a pay rise, and the red buses didn’t. Unions were very influential in those days, so the drivers of the red buses went on strike. Been a bus driver then, meant you also had a strict dress code, you had to be smart and clean shaven to be a bus driver. So whilst on strike, Les grew a beard in defiance. As the strike went on, he was asked by his colleagues, “when will you shave your beard off?” Les replied “When we win the strike”. They never won the strike. Les has had a beard ever since. Infact, some of the public were so upset that he kept his beard, while driving his bus, that they would stand in front of Les’s bus in protest.