Yorkshire Woollen District
Ford Thames 570E
By the time this picture of a Yorkshire Woollen Thames was taken, it was in preservation. Never my favourite Yorkshire coaches, I found them a little slow and a lot noisy. One of them provided the only occasion I experienced where all passengers had to get off and walk up a steep hill which the Ford had failed to climb, though to be fair, the engine had developed a serious defect during the journey. I could never understand why ‘Yorkshire’ bought them – the rumour at the time was that Ford had thrown in a couple of Transit vans for the engineering department but I have no idea whether there was any truth whatsoever in this.
Photograph and Copy contributed by Bob Hunter
24/05/13 – 06:58
As I said elsewhere on this forum recently, there was a time in the early ’60s when these Fords were the (minority) vehicle of choice for major operators requiring a lightweight motor for lightweight (mainly private hire) duties. Although inevitably pressed into service at busy times for front line duties, SUT’s Fords (and the Bedfords acquired with operators) had their own front line duties – Fishing Trips. These were regular Sunday duties. Did it happen elsewhere? Ford only arrived on the scene in 1958, eventually replacing the Commer Avenger as the number two lightweight. Commer withdrew from the market in 1964 – as did Ford much later in 1985. Ford developed a strong fan base as a fast motor – in many ways overtaking Bedford who never quite regained the reputation gained by the OB and SB. The fact that these were inferior offerings to those of AEC, Bristol and Leyland – as well as Daimler and Guy – was immaterial. Quality independents sold their lightweights after about three years to keep a modern profile. The big boys – especially Yelloway – often kept their Bedfords for only one season, ie months, again often renting or leasing where they bought the AECs and Leyland.
24/05/13 – 14:06
For some reason, Ford were very popular around Manchester in my time (1971 – 1980). Smiths, Stanley Spencer, Jacksons and Shearings all ultimately came together as Shearings – and were major operators of Fords with a three year replacement cycle. Holt, Fingland, a Davyhulme firm and another Altrincham firm added to the local Ford fleet, as did Fieldsend of Salford and Monk of Leigh. In the case of the above, some were minority AEC operators. [Was there a local dealer that, in the ignorance of youth, I did not know about?]
24/05/13 – 14:07
I rode on this at last November’s Dewsbury open day and was surprised at the relative narrowness of the seats when compared to those in (say) a late 1940s half-cab coach. Having said that, I’ve not ridden in this type of Vega derivative since about 1974, but I’ve hardly gained any weight in the intervening years. The aisle was (probably) narrower than on a typical half-cab, so where did all the width go? Perhaps Duple was using cavity wall insulation on this model…
24/05/13 – 15:20
Interesting comment Neville. I rode on it at the Nocturnal rally at Halifax in October and my thoughts were exactly the same as yours, re the narrowness of the seats.
I think the last time I rode on one would be the late sixties, a Bedford version and don’t remember the seats being as tight as on this. Perhaps the Ford version was narrower for some reason. I know the Ford and Commer versions were about 7 inches taller than the Bedford so perhaps they were narrower.
There again, I’m afraid I have grown somewhat since the late 60′s!
24/05/13 – 17:33
They were only 8′ wide – but that wouldn’t explain why they felt narrower than a (7’6") 1940s half-cab.
24/05/13 – 18:12
North Western bought 8 Bedford SB3s for their Altrincham Coachways subsidiary in 1961 with identical bodywork. Five subsequently went to Melba Motors. When Altrincham Coachways was sold off and Melba Motors was absorbed into the main fleet, the vehicles were painted red and cream, were given North Western transfers and fleet numbers in the 1967 sequence and were employed for just a season.
During their lives they were used on similar operations for the subsidiaries to those where NWRCC employed Tiger Cubs or even Leopards.
As far as the infiltration of Fords into the various Bedford dominated Manchester coaching fleets of the period goes this was, as I understand it, due to an aggressive sales policy at a time when the Bedford OB and early 1950s Bedfords were time expired. With both Duple and Plaxton offering bodies on Fords almost identical to those on Bedfords, the price advantage that Ford offered resulted in a good number of orders.