W Pyne & Son Starbeck

W Pyne & Son Starbeck

My Name is Keith Todd, aged 82, and having been told about this website by my son, Ian, I feel I can contribute some interesting stories about Pyne's. My father, Stan Todd, started working for Pyne's in approximately 1947. George Pyne was the boss working from the original office doing the administration in what was known as the little garage at the bottom of Camwal Road. Opposite the garage was a small plot of land containing some petrol pumps and was looked after by an old gentleman whose name I cannot recall but he had an artificial leg. Further up Camwal Road was a new garage built to accommodate their fleet of coaches. Between these two stood a long line of terraced houses, one of which belonged to an Irish man. My fond memory of him is on a Sunday morning he would set off smartly dressed to church followed by his wife and numerous children. These houses have long since been demolished and the land sold as light industrial units (one of which belonged to Jeff Pantry, son of Bob Pantry). Charlie Pyne was in charge of the top garage and was a very clever tradesman, carrying out numerous conversions including altering the rear end of a lovely Leyland Tiger AWT 841 which was soon allocated to Dad. These two Tigers were fitted with petrol engines and had an Autovac unit on the bulkhead alongside the engine. The other later Tiger BWX 817 was driven by Dennis Winter. A young apprentice Jackie Ibbotson started work straight from school and was still working for Pyne's until his retirement. During the winter season lots of work was carried out overhauling the coaches and Dad, like most of the drivers, used to come home with sore hands caused by rubbing down the newly sprayed coaches with Brasso. All the drivers were keen to get allocated doing the winter service every alternate day to Blackpool shared with West Yorkshire. The fare remained unaltered at 13 shillings 3 pence return for many years. The small Bedford coaches were normally used on this excursion as it was more economical to operate as passenger demand in winter was fairly quiet. The route in winter was via Otley, Skipton, differing from the summer route over Blubberhouses. I often had the chance to travel with Dad and I loved to hear the tone of the Bedford engines, especially working hard up gradients.
In the winter of 1947 George and Charlie Pyne took all the drivers and their wives down to the Earls Court Commercial Motor Show with the intention of placing an order for new coaches. It is my understanding that the best choice of chassis available was Daimlers and an order was placed for, I think, six diesel engine Daimlers to be fitted with 32 seater Plaxton bodies. These Daimlers had the pre-selector fluid flywheel type of gearbox.
Soon after, possibly ready for the summer season, these new coaches arrived and Dad was allocated HWY807. What lovely coaches they were and I still recall the lovely smell of moquette and these were fitted with Clayton Dewandre heaters on the bulkhead at the front of the saloon. Dad did various long distance tours and as diesel engines were few and far between Dad carried a list of Derv stockists in various towns.
In 1952 Pyne's took delivery of more Daimler Freelines fitted with the usual pre-selector type gearbox. These had the 10.6 litre engines and a 39 seater coach body built by Burlington Seagull which I think was part of Duple coaches and had opened a depot in Blackpool. These were the latest designs and were the very latest in the Harrogate area. I enclose a photo of a brand new Daimler decorated to celebrate the Queen's Jubilee.

This was taken alongside Christ Church in 1953. These were by far the latest in luxury coaches and I could hear the powerful roar of the engines when these coaches were travelling up Skipton Road en route to Blackpool. I also enclose a photo of Dad's coach collecting passengers near the Town Hall in Leeds en route to London. The registration number of his coach was LWR 840 and it had an early single type of trim as compared to the latest Daimler LYG 964 shown above.
Another interesting point was these coaches were fitted with Goodyear safety tyres which were in effect an inner tube built inside the main tube (long before the tubeless were introduced). Dad used to tell the story of him having a blow-out approaching Newark on the A1 long before the bypasses were built. He said he threw himself across the steering wheel and brought the coach to a halt safely which certainly justified the extra cost of this safety tube. Another interesting journey was taking a party of entertainers who had done a show at the Royal Hall, Harrogate and had to be taken down to London. I jumped at the chance of going with him but all the 39 seats were taken so I had to sit on a stool all the way to London. We had a meal before setting off back to Starbeck and having left London Dad pulled in and said I could drive it. What a wonderful experience it was.
Sadly early in the 1950's Charlie Pyne died suddenly which was a shock to everyone.
I often took Dad down to Starbeck on his Red Panther BYO 327 and had the use of it during the day. When he had finished cleaning his coach I would drive down to collect him and we would go home to New Park. On this particular evening he drove home with me behind and as usual he was smoking his pipe. We had almost reached the Skipton Road junction when I smelt burning and shouted for him to stop. It seemed that the ash from his pipe had burst into flames and had burned a hole through his raincoat and white smock which all Pyne's drivers had to wear, as well as the peak cap!!
Another sad event was having arrived at the bottom garage Dad was looking at the detail sheet when suddenly a chap ran in and shouted "hurry up Stan, bring a trolley jack", someone was trapped under a double decker bus. We ran over and smashed the guard rail and pulled out this unfortunate chap. The ambulance arrived and sadly the man was pronounced dead. It would seem that he had walked up and down Starbeck High Street and suddenly decided to commit suicide by throwing himself under the bus. His small ex GPO Morris Minor was parked over the road and was now been used as a painter and decorator van.
Dad managed to get a mention in the local press, as follows: "Coach driver fined for speeding at 45 mph while pointing out a church en route to Scarborough!"
Somehow, possibly while I was serving in the Army, whatever the reason Dad left Pyne's, possibly the most successful operator in the area and joined Shearings Holidays covering the Bournemouth tour driving a Bedford Val coach. He enjoyed this tour for many years until finally his health failed and he had to retire.
Finally if I may make a point while reading another enthusiasts stories about Pyne's - I have no recollection of Bob and his son Jeff having a base at Dacre Banks, nor did I know of Pyne's operating a Daimler Freeline Plaxton bodied coach and I would love to hear how many more new coaches they did purchase over the years. The Daimler Freeline coaches had quite a large attractive white steering wheel.
Sadly over the years Pyne's fleet began to decline and when the government introduced new regulations allowing other local coach operators to advertise their own tours, Pyne's lost the only thing of value to them and sadly they were taken over by Wray's coaches. Once Malcolm Wray came back in to business they became so very successful until they again were acquired by Eddie Brown of Helperby.
Hope all you enthusiasts find the above interesting together with the treasured photo's.

Keith Todd


27/06/14 - 13:34

Keith, your article exemplifies the great value of this site. I had never heard of Pynes and small coach operators are very much on the fringe of my interest but the details you offer the enthusiast which were once just part of your everyday life are full of interst and would be lost if you hadn't taken the trouble to recount them. In doing so you also offer information of general interest most would either never have known or had forgotten, e.g.the scarcity of DERV suppliers.
History is a mosaic of major events and thousands of persanal memories. Thanks for taking the time to contribute yours

Phil Blinkhorn

27/06/14 - 13:38

Phil you maybe interested in this Payne's of Harrogate


28/06/14 - 06:58

Many thanks, Keith, for bringing us closer to this fine coach operator. The accompanying photo of Freeline LYG 964 is, I believe, the first colour photo I have seen of a Pyne Daimler. Many months ago, I opened a posting on this site asking for colour photos of one of the half-cab Daimlers as they had a special place in my childhood memories. The Pyne livery was, for me, one of the most attractive to be seen and your photo brings it back.

Paul Haywood

28/06/14 - 07:00

This is a very interesting article. The photo at the top shows AWT 841, a 1935 Burlingham bodied Leyland TS7, which was in the fleet until 1957, having a new Plaxton body fitted in 1950. Next to it is 1929 Daimler CF6 WX 219 which is also recorded as having a new Plaxton body later. Alongside is 1928 Albion PFB26 VN 3584 which was also rebodied by Burlingham, lasting until 1952. It appears to carry its original body in the photograph. The final two vehicles appear to be Bedford WLBs.The first, I think, is Duple bodied YG828 new in 1932 I cannot make out the registration on the photo, but the last one is possibly VN 3584, new in 1932.
VN3585, which also had the next chassis number to VN3584 was delivered to Seanor and Company of Harrogate. Pyne and Seanor jointly operated the service to Blackpool until West Yorkshire acquired Seanors business. The rout was then shared between WYRCC and Pyne as outlined in the article.
My understanding is that Wrays were originally based at Dacre Bank.
The Plaxton -bodied Freeline was the last one they acquired (in July 1959). It was registered XWX 912. A picture of it can be found here at this link

David Hick

12/08/14 - 15:14

Wrays were subsequently sold to Eddie Brown they were originally based at Dacre Banks in Nidderdale. Another small firm from the same area who often worked as sub contractors to West Yorkshire was Longsters of Pately Bridge.

Chris Hough

17/01/16 - 12:49

My Grandfather was Charlie Pyne, sadly he died before I was born. Mum (Kathleen Pyne) and my Aunt (Mary Pyne, Doug Sharpe's wife, who took over when Charlie died) used to tell me stories about the buses and taxis there, so some of the names mentioned in the article sound familiar. One of my favourite stories was how Pyne's coach livery came to be that beautiful purple colour. Apparently Charlie was colour-blind, and thought he'd chosen a lovely sky blue! As a child, I remember our settee in Forest Grange was upholstered with the coach upholstery, and my cousin Kathryn still owns our old piano stool upholstered in the same material......must have been good stuff!

Anne Cooper

18/01/16 - 06:03

Hello Anne - I always admired Pyne's fleet, livery and immaculate presentation and, believe it or not, I once drive one of their coaches although I never worked for them - no, oh no, I didn't steal it I promise.
It was sold to Edgard Beecroft of Fewston near Otley and I once did a day's work for him - the little coach remained in Pyne's colours throughout its stay with Edgar. It was a Bedford WTB with a top quality body by Plaxtons and they were grand little motors for 25 to 29 passengers. I do so wish I could remember its number, not like me as I've always kept extensive records, but it was something very like DWT 150 so was new just but only just before the start of WW2. Happy days eh ??

Chris Youhill

18/01/16 - 15:56

Chris, Pyne's had DWT 250, a Bedford WTB/Plaxton C26F that was new to them in 1939. It was sold to Beecroft's in April 1962. (This is according to a PSV Circle Fleet History of Pyne's)

John Stringer

19/01/16 - 05:59

Thanks ever so much John - I appreciate that information and I can now fill a gap, or correct an error, in my records and happily I wasn't far out after all - I mean, what's a hundred among friends??
Shortly after retiring I decided to tot up how many vehicles I'd driven and/or conducted in my career and imagined and hoped it would be over a thousand, but despite a few recounts it was just a little short at 990 ish - I may have another recount soon to achieve the desired result, after all politicians can do it so why can't I?? In any event that's a very rewarding number of passengers carried - I would imagine over a million surely.

Chris Youhill

22/01/16 - 06:46

Chris - an admirable number nonetheless and a credit to your record keeping and lifelong passion.
As someone who never had any PSV driving or conducting experience I cannot help but admire your ability to have coped with countless thousands of cash transactions - particularly in pre-decimal days. I'd still be calculating the correct change from a duty the day before. Although it would have been a wonderful experience to have driven so many types of bus, the idiocyncracies of the many varieties of gearbox (crash, syncro, pre-select, automatic etc.) would have me quaking with fear before I climbed into the cab.
My apologies for diverting from the wonderful Pyne memories.

Paul Haywood

22/01/16 - 09:32

Many thanks Paul for those kind remarks and I'm quite sure that you would have coped very competently with fares and change had such an occupation come your way for whatever reason. Also, as you are an avid enthusiast like me, you would have found that the various transmission systems were no problem at all, but that each had its own delightful challenges which were a pleasure to deal with. I always found that virtually any vehicle would fall into line if kindly understood and "spoken to nicely." Any unwise driver, and I'm afraid there were a good many, who decided to roughly tame a difficult vehicle by mechanical brute force and abuse would ultimately be the loser for sure. At Ledgard's in particular there were a good number of duties, particularly long split turns, involving short spells on perhaps four or five different routes and each could and did involve vehicles which were worlds apart in specification and behaviour - for me, never anything but an interesting and enjoyable challenge. I clearly remember at the very start of one late turn on a Saturday on the busy (always) Leeds - Guiseley - Ilkley service I left Ilkley for the first trip with one of the Mark V Regent/Roe beauties and immediately heard the sinister "clinking" of a wheel rim loose on the nearside back wheels, meaning of course a flat tyre. A call to Otley depot and cautious progress to White Cross found the fitter there with PD1 JUM 376 and an apology with "I'll have it back repaired for you when you get back to White Cross." Well, Bert knew that I was an enthusiast and was hardly surprised when I said "Leave the PD1 on all night if you like" - JUM 376 was an absolute gem which went like a trooper and with the silkiest gearbox imaginable. So we had an enjoyable late turn and with the lack of normal heavy weekday ordinary traffic the slight difference in performance between the Leyland and the spritely Mark V went un-noticed. Later in the evening I had a premonition of doom however - knowing that our razor sharp manager Jack Tapscott would study all documentation on Monday morning I began to fear being summoned to explain why I had opted to manage with 58 seats instead of 65 on such a busy route which was always the province of the Mark Vs where possible - but for once I got away with it, and of course fitter Bert would also have been on the carpet similarly.
Well I must aplogise for wandering well away from Pynes of Starbeck but I hope that its been a worthwhile insight for everyone.

Chris Youhill

22/01/16 - 16:04

No need to apologise Chris, your comments and anecdotes are always informative and interesting, and give us all a fascinating insight into the vehicles, operators, and various methods used to keep the show on the road, as it were. We'll call your slight deviation off route 'an excursion', which will then bring us nicely back to dear old Pyne's and their 'White Coach Tours'.

Brendan Smith

30/08/16 - 09:03

We used to get a pynes coach up to St Roberts primary St Ainsty road. We waited in the morning on a bit of land by the side of the garages and the corner of the Prince of Wales. I remember one of the drivers was called Pat. They were happy days in the late 60s. I can still smell the garage, and remember the little signs saying " mind head when leaving your seat"

Rita Mulryan

02/09/16 - 06:34

Rita, I was a pupil 'next door' on Ainsty Road, Harrogate at St John Fisher's School from 1967-1969, and loved the place and it's wonderful teachers - true and decent people one and all. The Prince of Wales pub where you waited for your coach to school still stands on the corner of Camwal Road and High Street in Starbeck. Sadly the Harrogate Hotel (renamed The Henry Peacock in later years) at the Harrogate side of the level crossing has recently been demolished, but the old signal box is still with us. St John Fisher's often hired Pyne's coaches for school outings and I vividly remember two field trips up to Aysgarth organised by our geography teacher Mr (Frank) Cowley. The beautiful scenery of the Yorkshire Dales viewed from a very comfortable seat, accompanied by the sound effects of a sweet little white and purple Bedford VAS/Plaxton coach - complete with the giveaway 'Bedford whistle' each time the brake pedal was released - was just heaven. All this, plus a cup of tea and sandwiches on arrival in Aysgarth. The perfect schoolday?

Brendan Smith

20/11/16 - 06:31

I was at school in Goldsborough from 1951 to 1957. Pyne's coaches took all the boys to Harrogate swimming baths twice a week in the summer using two coaches, usually a petrol Bedford OB and a diesel Daimler half-cab. The big chromed Clayton Dewandre heater was an impressive-looking piece of kit on the front bulkhead. Very occasionally a Daimler Freeline was used and they were noticeably more comfortable than the older vehicles, even to a 10-year old. All the vehicles were always impeccably turned out, and the unusual liveries worked very well, particularly on the Freelines.
The Bedfords were faster than the Daimler half-cabs, and the boys preferred to travel in the speedy Bedford. The boys in the Bedford would always egg the driver on to overtake the Daimler up the long hill to Goldsborough village and the overtaking was always accompanied by loud cheering although why we should be anxious to return to school is a mystery to me.

Tony Cormack



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