Monday at The Moorfield, Kid?

Monday at The Moorfield, Kid ??

Every Thursday at Bondgate Mr. Jack Tapscott would publish the following week’s work for the two garages at Otley and Ilkley including, as far as was possible in advance, any rest day working and overtime. Jack’s typing may admittedly have left a lot to be desired, but the accuracy of the weekly A4 page was faultless and ensured that the service ran with the 100% reliability for which the famous blue Samuel Ledgard buses were rightly appreciated and are remembered and sadly missed to this day. One Thursday while I was at the counter the famous inner sanctum door flew open and Jack emerged with the enquiry “Will you work your rest day on Monday at The Moorfield, Kid ??” Being of Midlands origin he often used that endearing expression “Kid” as long as you were in the good books. I was really happy at the prospect of conducting on fresh routes, and on different and rare buses, so I agreed at once – I might just have thought twice about it if long range weather forecasts had been around in those days !!

The excitedly awaited Monday dawned, and I got out of bed in Ilkley at 4.30am all eager to catch the 5.55am Leeds bus (private to Burley for ordinary passengers) to Green Lane at Yeadon from where I would walk up to “The Moorfield” Ledgard's Yeadon Depot. It was snowing heavily and was already laying thick upon the ground but I made it to the Depot in good time, as I had planned to do, for the split turn I was to work. There was an unusual shortage of available vehicles that day, and Otley Depot had been asked to lend one – I was a bit disappointed to hear of this, until it arrived !! I couldn’t believe my eyes as Foden coach MUA 864 rolled in – my wonderful comical driver George Candler of Rodley certainly couldn’t believe his, and looked furtively around in vain for an escape route. The Fodens were never easy to drive even for familiar men on long distance work, and a peak period trip on The Moorfield in a blizzard was the worst ordeal poor George had ever faced I’m sure. With much gear grinding and clutch slipping we slithered our way “private” to Horsforth terminus to duplicate the “West Chevin” service bus all the way to Otley. My request through the cab window for the wireless to be turned on for some nice light music was greeted with a reply in language not at all befitting George’s affectionate nickname of “The Reverend Candler.” While we ground, crunched and swore our way on a very busy journey indeed I did my best to conduct this fine vehicle, which I have to say was singularly unsuitable for service work even in an emergency. I had to negotiate the wide and comfortable seats and the very narrow gangway while trying to issue tickets in the soft glow from the coach lighting, and at the same time get to the front at every stop to open the sliding door. Also the bell pushes were those tiny little diamond shaped coach fittings, embossed with “PUSH”, and if I remember rightly they were beneath the luggage racks at the top of the windows. As we returned the Foden to the depot after duplicating the service bus from Otley to Yeadon Fountain (NOT on its tiny little coach destination blind of course) the snow was still falling relentlessly and the roads were getting nasty – and the long day (due to finish around 7.00pm) was still young as they say. Due to the foul weather, and the Foden’s indignance at having to carry lowly workpeople who paid on board, we were late into the garage and our first meal break had shrunk to a rapid cup of tea and, I hate to admit it now, a cigarette apiece.

Out into the slushy white world of Harrogate Road we trudged to operate breakfast reliefs on two consecutive “via White Cross” trips to Otley. I was very happy now, as both buses were the Atkinson twins NWW 805/6. By the way I wonder how many folks know that they were not actually identical twins – well not quite. They had different door arrangements - 805 had a hinged double door where the complete unit opened forwards against the front pillar, while 806 had two separate leaves, one opening forwards and the other to the rear of the entrance aperture. Whether this was a deliberate order by Kitchins or simply a case of “here’s what we have in stock” at Burlinghams I suppose we shall never know !! These meal reliefs took place on Harrogate Road outside the depot, handily where the vehicles going in opposite directions were expected to pass. While the Atkinsons were said to be a bit of a challenge for the drivers, they were comfortable to ride on and were spacious enough for easy conducting, and no bells to worry about as the driver controlled the loading and the doors.

On returning from the second of the Otley trips it was time for our long break in the middle of the split duty. The snowfall had lessened temporarily and we were cold and hungry. The Reverend nipped off home to Rodley and I caught a bus to Otley for an essential meal at one or other of the best two cafes around at the time where lovely tasty hot dinners could be had – Gascoigne’s at the top of the Bus Station or Hartley’s on Boroughgate.

The afternoon portion of duty consisted of two round trips, four hours, on the West Chevin route. By the time we went out to take over the bus in Harrogate Road the sky was menacing and dark, the snow was falling heavily again, and the roads were becoming very badly affected – and much much worse was to come. At first though my spirits rose a little as EUG 124 arrived, enabling me to add yet another “fresh type worked on” to my list in the form of a Leyland TS7 with its second body, one of the ex United ECW semi luxury models. They had a classic beauty and very comfortable seats indeed, upholstered of course in “Tilling Group” moquette. This was in the days before schools, offices and factories had the sense to close early when such an obvious travel crisis was looming, and the peak period for everyone deteriorated from nasty and uncomfortable to downright dangerous for all concerned. The snowfall got heavier almost by the minute, and the roads were soon threatening to become impassable in many places. As the hours wore on, everyone became progressively unhappier. Bus staff and other road users had an impossible job now, traffic was down to something approaching walking pace, and the passengers were freezing cold, wet and understandably very miserable indeed. We eventually handed the bus over, more than an hour late, to the late turn crew and wished them all the best.

The position was soon to become even worse, if that was possible and it was !! News came through to the garage that the Leeds – Guiseley – Ilkley service was at a virtual standstill, due to incidents and stoppages galore along the route, but that every effort would be made to somehow run the last journeys eventually. I was therefore obliged to spend an hour or two in the Moorfield Depot with others in a similar predicament before making my way, with very great difficulty, to the main road to catch the 11.00 pm from Leeds to Ilkley. We all made the best of our enforced “concert party” – several star turns happened to number amongst the stranded – and some wonderful ribald sketches were enjoyed – I have to say that “top of the bill” were undoubtedly our own, our very own, Peggy Haigh and Frank Slater.

By late evening at least two buses were stranded in the drifts and were not recovered until next day – I particularly remember that one was on Brownberrie Lane near the Bayton Lane junction after valiantly trying to reach Horsforth. In true Ledgard tradition the last bus from Leeds arrived late but intact and I completed my Monday “rest day at the Moorfield” by plodding and slipping my way up the steep hill to West View in Ilkley where I got home nineteen hours after leaving for work the previous day – “A day to remember ??” – I should say so !! – but I wouldn’t have missed it for The World.

Chris Youhill

There is a link to view a shot of the Foden MUA 864 here and you can see the Atkinson twins
NWW 805 & 6 here and last but not least a photo of EUG 124 the Leyland TS7 here.

12/01/14 - 09:15

I came across your website after reading the Sammy Ledgard article about Peggy Haigh who was a conductress on there buses. I don't remember them running as I am to young but I have heard stories from my mum who travelled on them as a young girl.
I live in Yeadon now and was just wondering where was the Moorfield bus depot.

Danny Scott

13/01/14 - 08:41

Hello Danny - the Moorfield depot was in the road of the same name on Harrogate Road - Moorfield Drive. After West Yorkshire took over on October 15th 1967 the premises were sold and, inevitably, demolished to make way for the present houses. If you leave Yeadon crossroads by Murgatroyd's Fish restaurant, pass the Fountain Fisheries, Moorfield Drive is on the left when heading for Rawdon. Its a very narrow thoroughfare and access was difficult even with the moderate sized buses of the time - but with today's large low slung giants it would be very hairy indeed. Sad to say that our very dear friend Peggy died on Christmas Eve aged 93, and her horse drawn funeral was this Wednesday - rather appropriately the Rawdon church is on the "Moorfield" route (now the 97 more or less to you young 'uns ! !).

Chris Youhill

13/01/14 - 09:43

Do you navigate by Fish and Chip Shops Chris?

Stephen Howarth

13/01/14 - 10:16

Whenever possible Stephen yes, but only those of course which are fitted with SatNav microCHIPS enabling one to SKATE along quickly.

Chris Youhill



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