Halifax Coaches

Halifax Coaches

Here are pictures of some of the Halifax secondhand Reliance MU3RV coaches. Four of these Reliances originated from the fleet of Bourne and Balmer, who had premises at Dingwall Road, Croydon, and in Crayford High Street. The firm was taken over by Timpsons in the late 1950s, but continued much as before, though eventually it succumbed to the Timpson corporate identity and livery. Thus, although these four coaches, MBY 347, NRK 350, TGJ 485/6, technically had two owners before reaching Halifax, in reality this was nothing more than a name change. PXO 974 and TGJ 484 came directly from Timpsons.
I went to secondary school in Selhurst, and used to walk from East Croydon down Dingwall Road past the Bourne and Balmer depot on my way to school. Later, when I worked at Skircoat Road, Halifax as a Traffic Clerk, I was amazed to see some of the old Bourne and Balmer coaches arriving in 1965/66 for a new life with the JOC.
MBY 347 had an early style of Park Royal C41C body, and dated from late 1954. This was purchased by Halifax for a song in an accident damaged condition purely for its spares potential, but, upon examination, the resourceful Geoffrey Hilditch discovered that it was readily repairable, and it joined the JOC as vehicle No. 200. It was followed by two more Park Royal bodied coaches of 1955 with the later Royalist C41C style of body, NRK 350 and PXO 974, which became Nos. 261 and 262. To these were added TGJ 484/5/6 dating from 1957, with the fine Burlingham Seagull C41F body style, which became, respectively, Nos. 260, 264 and 263.

Roger Cox

MBY 347 fleet number 200 in Skircoat Road workshops.

PXO 974 fleet number 262 and NRK 350 fleet number 261 in Commercial Street, Halifax.

TGJ 486 fleet number 263, TGJ 485 fleet number 264 and NRK 350 fleet number 261 in Elmwood Garage.

17/09/11 - 08:18

What a splendid feature Roy, and brilliant photos to go with it. Despite living only twenty miles away I have little or no recollection of this aspect of Halifax CTD's operations. Don't you think that the front of the Park Royal Royalist coaches bears a striking resemblance to some ECW versions of the same era ??

Not too far off topic I hope, but here is a poor snapshot which I took in the early 1950s - a handsome Bourne and Balmer Regal/Harrington on the Fish Market coach park at Hastings - I daresay this will take you back to your youth !!

Chris Youhill

17/09/11 - 17:14

The similarity of the Royalist's front end to that of the ECW LS coach was most likely as a result of the appointment of J. W. Shirley as Director and General Manager of Park Royal in 1953, having been previously with ECW. Shortly before this, former Bristol man A. J. Romer had moved to the ACV Group (of which AEC and Park Royal were part, along with Crossley, Maudslay and Roe) as its Managing Director, so the Bristol and ECW influence was bound to be there. I feel the ECW influence at Park Royal during this period was reflected in other designs too. I always thought that the single deck service bus design - also used for the Monocoach - had similarities to the ECW LS bus, with its higher waistline, deep windscreens, generally upright look and even the winged motif on the front. Their mid-fifties lightweight, alloy framed double deck design with its larger windows and well balanced proportions also bore more than a hint of the KSW and Lodekka. I have to say though, I still believe that ECW bodied always looked 'just right'.

John Stringer

17/09/11 - 17:16

I remember reading somewhere that the person who designed the Park Royal Royalist mentioned was an exile from Lowestoft.
If you were to put together all the passing comments from various sources, what a tangled web would emerge. Charles H Roe and Charles Roberts both attempted to buy ECW in the 30s. Personalities swapped between Park Royal and Weymann with alarming regularity right up the Alexander R type/East Lancs E type of recent years. Its all terribly incestuous.

David Oldfield

18/09/11 - 06:15

Thanks for that picture of the Bourne and Balmer Regal, Chris. I remember those coaches very well. The Bourne and Balmer livery was basically grey with a darker greenish colour for trim, though the proportions of the colours in the livery varied with bodywork styles. Towards the end, not long before the Timpson livery overtook the fleet, I was sorry to see several Duple bodied Ford Thames coaches ousting the quality stalwarts of yore. Another individual operation based in Croydon during the post war years was Homeland Tours who had a number of Leyland Comets with Strachans C37F bodies. I believe that these vehicles were actually owned and operated by Wallace Arnold to whom Homeland had "passed" the licences and goodwill (it was technically not possible to sell an RSL to another operator, as Hampshire entrepreneur, Basil Williams of Hants and Sussex, discovered to his cost, but that is another, complicated story).

Roger Cox

19/09/11 - 07:13

It may be another, complicated story Roger, but it's one I'd love to know something about! There is a recent link here, in the posting of the former Hants and Sussex Leyland PD1. I've always thought that the story of Basil Williams' operations is a fascinating one and one which I've only been able to gather bits of, I'm sure with many gaps. I've searched many a publication for snippets but never found a complete article. Apologies for the divergence from Halifax coaches but if anyone could explain something of the history of the Hants and Sussex empire, I would be extremely grateful.

Chris Barker

19/09/11 - 11:39

Chris B, you ask about Basil Williams and Hants & Sussex. It's much too complex for a reply here, but there are two books about it. First is "Hants & Sussex" by Alan Lambert, published by B M Lambert, 7 Nursery Close, Emsworth, Hants, PO10 7SP, in 1983. This gives an account of the "rise and fall" of H&S, and the then current situation (Southern Motorways). After all this time, I don't know whether any copies are still available. However, I think that Alan Lambert contributes to the Southdown Enthusiast Club, and may be contactable by that means? The second is a comprehensive fleetlist by the PSV Circle (reference PK14). This was published in 1986/87, jointly with the Omnibus Society. Again, I don't know about current availability. At the time of deregulation Basil Williams revived the Hants and Sussex name, and ran some competitive services into Portsmouth. He used ex-LTE AEC Swifts. However after a year or two, as the big groups came into the area, this and his other operations finally ended. Sorry, nothing to do with Halifax coaches, but I hope the info is useful for Chris B!

19/09/11 - 18:28

On the very complicated story of Hants and Sussex, I have some pictures of some of Basil Williams's ex LTE GS buses, by which time he was calling himself "Southern Motorways", that I will submit for the website. We can all then develop the tale of this extraordinary operator in a bespoke slot.

Roger Cox

20/09/11 - 14:38

I think it would be a wonderful idea to publish some Hants & Sussex photos. In fact, I'm sure, in the back of my mind, I have/had a copy of Alan Lambert's book and will try to fish it out, cobwebs and all, from the loft! Basil Willliams was a fascinating operator, well worth a 'visit'.

Chris Hebbron

21/09/11 - 06:23

Reading about the coaches of Halifax JOC brought to mind the work they did. I seem to recall they we driven by a specific team of drivers who went out from Halifax very early in the morning to cover a contract bringing staff into Halifax for their working day. Anyone recall this and which employer it was?

David Slater

21/09/11 - 15:33

I was a Traffic Clerk at Halifax Passenger Transport Dept. when the contracts mentioned by David Slater started. They were run for McVitie's Biscuits, whose factory in Hopwood Lane brought in staff from as far afield as the South Yorkshire coalfield area, from places such as Wombwell, Wath upon Dearne and Barnsley. The factory start time was 0800 hours, so the flotilla of coaches, staffed, as David indicates, by a select band of private hire drivers, left at a very early hour from Halifax. The "rapport" that these male drivers established with the lively ladies of the biscuit factory far, far outweighed any consideration of antisocial hours, and there was also a bonus in the ready supply of "substandard" biscuits. This contract lasted from 1965 to 1973, when, sadly, a strike of road staff obliged Geoff Hilditch to tell McVities that he could not fulfil their needs during the dispute. It was a very successful and happy venture that the contract drivers and their customers were sorry to end. The private hire/contract panel of drivers at Halifax were certainly a bunch of individuals, and contributed greatly to the success of the coaching arm of the business. I (understandably) recall the names of two of them, brothers Norville and Manasseh Hayes. I wonder if anyone now gets names like that in this world "celebrity" imitation.

Roger Cox

21/09/11 - 15:37

The works contract was for Meredith & Drew of Ovenden (later United Biscuits). It involved about six coaches bringing in workers from such as Hemsworth, South Elmsall, South Kirby and various other small towns between Barnsley and Doncaster. I think it would be right to say the workers were all females. Tales abound concerning the antics of these 'ladies', who were shall we say of an entirely different caliber to the home grown Halifax lasses. Some drivers only ever did one trip on 'Merediths' and were too traumatised to ever to go again ! On one evening return journey one unfortunate driver was actually stripped completely naked at the last drop off point and allegedly stuffed onto the luggage rack, the perpetrators running off with all his clothes ! I regularly used to watch the convey racing through Stump Cross where I lived, and it was clear that the behaviour of those inside was infinitely worse than anything I ever encountered on the worst school buses. In order to keep the cost down and remain competitive, Geoffrey Hilditch considered putting double deckers on, which would require fewer vehicles, but there was nothing available that would be fast enough for the distances covered, and so he and Dennis Motors tinkered around with the Loline design to enable it to have a five speed semi-automatic gearbox. This led to the purchase of the last five Lolines ever built, which materialised as HJOC 300 to 304, and that is another story. The contract had previously been operated on a smaller scale by Pemberton's of Upton, which I seem to recall using a Duple-bodied Commer Avenger. Further back, in the late 50's, I remember an allover blue Leyland-bodied Royal Tiger coach belonging to one of the United Service combine running the contract. As only a young child, the sight of a blue coach with 'United' on the sides in chromed letters completely baffled me, as United was the firm that ran the buses in Scarborough when we went on holiday, but I had still a lot to learn.

John Stringer

21/09/11 - 18:19

John is right - the firm was Meredith & Drew. After 50 years, I am surely allowed the odd senior moment.

Roger Cox

22/09/11 - 06:36

Mention of Pemberton of Upton reminds me that they had a similar contract to bring ladies from South Yorkshire to the mill at Gomersal owned by Thomas Burnley Ltd. I believe that the government gave a subsidy for providing employment to staff from high unemployment areas. Mention of the behaviour of some of these so called ladies was brought out at the occasional Saturday night dances. I wonder what happened to Josie?

Philip Carlton

22/09/11 - 14:10

Ah Mannassah Hayes ! Yes Roger, I remember him well. I too was a Traffic Clerk at Halifax in 1973/74 by which time 'Nass', as he was usually known, was an Inspector and a thoroughly nice bloke. I don't recall his brother though, he'd obviously gone by then. Nass had been a coach driver for Ripponden & District during the 1950's, presumably until they sold out to Hebble in 1956. He recalled driving the Foden half-deckers, Commer Avengers, and the heavy Royal Tigers with a frightening lack of braking ability. I reckon he left HPT in the late 1970's, and I believe he then moved away from the area.

John Stringer

23/09/11 - 06:20

Snap, then John. When I was at HPTD the offices, which seemed to be of a similar vintage to the tram depot, were "attached" to the Skircoat Road frontage, but subsidence had occurred causing the office block to incline markedly away from the mother building. The block was propped up by a series of wooden supports, without which total collapse would have ensued, but, internally, the entire floor area sloped significantly towards the road. At least, if one dropped a pencil, one knew where to look for it. I left late in 1966, and shortly afterwards, a new office was built on the site of the old bus washing shed, and I saw this on my return for the day to see the Halifax Parade of old vehicles in 1968, of which more anon. As for Manasseh, did he still sport that truly magnificent handlebar moustache in the 1970s?

Roger Cox

23/09/11 - 17:41

I can't match John Stringer's account of the antics of the biscuit factory workers so here is a sober comment - one at least of these coaches (PXO 974) had the BR double arrow on the rear alongside the Halifax coat of arms. Maybe they all did. British Railways was of course a joint owner of Halifax JOC. The similarly-owned Todmorden JOC fleet had the double arrow on all its buses.

Geoff Kerr

05/05/12 - 17:0

Nassa was still an Inspector at Halifax when I started in 1979. In fact he was the first Inspector to check my bus, this was on the 13:10 service 45 to Sowerby, my first trip out with an experienced conductor. I remember it well because Nas got on just before the hill on Sowerby New Road, on the return took one look at me, asked me what was wrong and why I was using the emergency rolls on my first trip. I told him the machine was broken at which point Nassa rang the bell and got off at the next stop. Although I cursed him under my breath at the time, I always got on with him, and I think he either retired or was made redundant about 5 years later. He might even have been a casualty of deregulation in 1986.

Chris Ratcliffe

24/10/12 - 12:44

Was MBY 347 the one which was inadvertently crashed after the brakes failed on a delivery journey?

David Call

15/07/13 - 10:20

This maybe a long shot as its been a while since comments on the Halifax Coaches Page but I just had to send you the above photo. On the right 'Nass' Manasseh Hayes. I'm sorry but I cant tell you anything of the vehicle he is stood in front of. What I can tell you is of how proud he was of being a driver and then even more so an inspector. He told me many a tale of his time on the buses. Your memories of my Grandfather Manasseh Hayes were an unexpected find, thank you.

Alix Rhodes

19/07/13 - 08:58

Thanks for posting this marvellous photo Alix. It was obviously taken well before my time at HPT - I only recall your grandfather as an Inspector somewhat later on. Do you know the name of the conductor by any chance, or have you any idea approximately what date the photo may have been taken ?
I am very interested in old photos of Halifax Corporation (and Hebble) staff. The Social Club used to have a Veterans' Association which assembled a couple of fascinating albums of such photos. Unfortunately the Association was disbanded - mainly due to so many of the 'older end' passing away, and the younger ones not being interested. I am in the process of trying to locate the albums in an attempt to get them scanned before they disappear. I am also trying to put together a list of as many of the staff as I can - from the original tramway men to the present time from a variety of sources. Your grandfather is definitely on the list !
The bus by the way is no. 77 (CCP 609), one of the last AEC Regent III's new in 1951.

John Stringer

02/04/15 - 06:33

Bourne and Balmer were established in 1920 as removal contractors. Alfred Bourne left the company in 1925,leaving Harold Balmer to run the company. Bourne and Balmer became a coach operator in 1933, running Dennis Arrow and Dennis Lancet coaches with Harrington half cab bodies. After the war they switched to AEC Regals and a solitary Leyland Tiger, all with Harrington half cab bodies. In 1953 Bourne and Balmer were taken over by Timpsons of Catford. In 1954 Timpsons placed four AEC Reliance/ Park Royal Dalesman coaches MBY 346, MBY 347, MBY 348, MBY 349 in the Bourne and Balmer fleet. In 1955 Timpsons bought two, one year old Leyland Tiger Cub/Strachan Everest coaches MBY 909, MBY 910 from Homeland Tours of Park Lane Croydon, and put them in the Bourne and Balmer fleet. Homeland Tours were taken over by Wallace Arnold of Leeds, but they only wanted the booking office. Also in 1955 Timpsons allocated two AEC Reliance/Park Royal Royalist coaches NRK 350, NRK 351 to Bourne and Balmer. In 1957 Timpsons placd two AEC Reliance/Burlingham Seagull coaches TGJ 485 and TGJ 486 in Bourne and Balmers fleet. Two more AEC Reliance/Harrington Cavaliers XXT 513, XXT 514 and two Ford Thames 570E/Duple Yeomans XXT 522, XXT 523 arrived in 1960. Most if not all the half cabs had gone by then. The beautiful Bourne and Balmer art deco coach station was demolished in the 1960s, and replaced with an office block. The basement of this building became the new Bourne and Balmer coach station, but it was only half the size of the original and had room for about six coaches. Only two more AEC Reliance/Harrington Grenadiers came from Timpsons, CUW 561C, CUW 564C in 1965. Bourne and Balmer carried on until 1973, then in 1974 Timpsons became National Travel and Bourne and Balmer was closed.

H. Daulby

04/01/16 - 06:55

The Meredith and Drew (United Biscuits) contract passed to National Travel (North East) Ltd at Frost Hill. Three new M reg Bedford YRTs were allocated to this contract driven by drivers living in the Barnsley area who kept their coaches at home. Incidentally I am under the impression that in the event of a strike (which never happened) this contract was to be exempt - both management and staff were well aware that the contract would automatically "go" in such event.
This type of contract was (probably) the last of a long line of "Mill Contracts". Many of the South Yorkshire operators, particularly Bingleys, Pembertons and Wallace Arnold Royston had a large number of contracts taking Miner's Wives to Huddersfield and Halifax textile mills. There were rumours about drivers/mill girls but I am unsure as to how much was true and how much was wishful thinking/driver bravado ! (the latter being very prevalent among coach drivers-more so than bus drivers perhaps?)

Malcolm Hirst



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