Shearings Coaches

Shearings Coaches

Following on from my previous W Pyne & Son Starbeck article.

My Father joined Shearings in Easter 1965 covering the Bournemouth tour and driving a new Bedford VAL. This coach was one of 20 purchased from Plaxtons Scarborough, I did have a photo of all these coaches lined up on Marine Drive but unfortunately I Have misplaced it. His Bedford Val was fitted with a Leyland O.400 diesel engine reason being Bedfords own 466 was still being developed and not yet in production. The small front twin steer 16 inch wheels proved to be very popular with passengers giving such a smooth comfortable ride. The Val design was a credit to Bedford design team as was the later YRT chassis fitted with a centrally mounted horizontal 466 later 500 Turbo engine. One is bound to wonder that should these brilliant designers being given a free hand with good backing financial support to develop a robust chassis to compete with foreign manufactures such as Volvo, Daf Mercedes, Scania,Etc, Bedford could still be in business! So sad!!
Malcolm Wray son of Andrew Wray based at Dacre Banks rejoined the business and was fortunate that Deregulation of the bus industry allowed small operators such as Longsters of Pateley, Simpsons and Clarks of Ripon, Murgatroyds and Burtons of Fellbeck, Beecrofts of Fewston and Dodsworths of Minskip all benefited by advertising their own tours either at home or continental.
Malcolm was very lucky in that James Herriott (Alf White) the vet wrote some best selling books mainly about his experience visiting farms in the beautiful Yorkshire Dales when he decided to advertise the James Herriot tour. It was an immediate success, he gave the commentary while his fellow Director did the driving there was such a tremendous demand, coaches running to capacity and after having to buy second hand coaches and being dependent on West Yorkshire and Wallace Arnold for seasonal work he was able to purchase top spec coaches from Plaxtons and Duple for the Ford R series and Volvo B10 m s( photo attached). The fleet was kept busy with local and continental tours. Volvos especially,, were very popular totally reliable capable of constant high speed motorway, fitted with air suspension, double glazing, tv toilet, etc.
Malcolm and his brother in law were both very shrewd business men and having taken over Pynes they kept the bottom garage and the Low Harrogate booking office.
They had for many years covered numerous school contracts collecting children from up the Dales and delivering them safely to various schools in the Harrogate area. This could be quite a challenge dependant on the weather especially in winter, nevertheless guaranteed them a regular income. Around the mid 1950 s the government relaxed the speed limit applicable to HGV s increasing this from 20 Mph to presumably 30 MPH,, and up till then general hauliers did everything in their power to keep lorries under the 3 ton U/W, to the extent of specifying different tyres, removing passenger seats, tools etc. Any vehicle exceeding the 3 ton limit had to display a 20 MPH sign approx. 6inch in Dia in Black. Nowadays drivers would find it so unbelievable to see large HGV s trundling along at 20 MPH!
Another point of interest was the opening of the first motorway designated the M6 in the Preston by pass. area in 5/ 12/ 1958, the designer Mr Lord soon suffered some bad press reports as it soon became evident that this motorway soon began to break up. This was unfair as no one could ever had anticipated heavy lorries travelling at speed some of which had badly designed axle loading thus creating more stress on the road surface. Hauliers soon had to face another problem, ie vehicles constantly suffering engine and transmission failures advising drivers to avoid using the Motorway whenever possible. This proved to be the decline of our heavy vehicle manufactures , Atkinson.Seddon, Leyland, Foden, ERF. Guy, AEC, etc fell by the roadside simply because our manufacturers had never had the experience of operating on the continental autobahn.
Drivers quickly persuaded management to invest in the popular HGVs.Vo Mercedes, Scania. Daf s, etc s all fitted with comfortable Sleeper cabs, night heaters, sound proofing etc.
If I may stand corrected re the article about Bob Pantry and his son Jeff having had a garage at Dacre Banks this is not so. Bob a real gentleman was employed by Wrays Coaches as their fitter. Prior to that he had worked in a similar capacity for Yorks Electricity board. He had also worked at Pynes and finally started his own business on Camwal Road Starbeck. Sadly he passed away some years ago leaving Jeff to carry on the business. Strangely his garage is almost opposite Pynes bus garage which is now owned by a local brewery. Having lost contact with Jeff I finally met up with him recently and was saddened to hear Jeff had reluctantly had to part with his and Bobs pride and joy a single deck Bristol ex Lincoln corporation. They had spent many hours restoring this bus but lack of storage unfortunately meant it had to go. However Jeff had also owned a( possibly) 29 seater Bedford coach painted in Pynes colours.Jeff kindly gave me a photo of Greengrass(from Heartbeat fame) reputably showing him driving this Bedford. Unfortunately this Bedford had also to go! Having met Jeff it suddenly struck me while listening to his experiences he would also have such a great story to tell and I hope he will consider sitting down and recording his for the benefit of all us enthusiasts.
I have my Son Ian to thank for drawing my attention to Pynes, I'm so thankful he did so. Had he not done so it is quite possible all the photos (which can be seen at this link) and details would have maybe never come to light!
Also I have been so very proud of my Father, he always enjoyed his career travelling along many roads bringing pleasure to countless clients, driving safely and been trusted with handling some top quality coaches.

Keith Todd



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