West Riding Guy Wulfrunians

West Riding Guy Wulfrunians

The West Riding Automobile Company painted its fleet in two distinct liveries - red for the former tram routes of the original Yorkshire (West Riding) Tramways Company, and green for the West Riding Automobile routes which were added to the system in 1922. This livery variety delighted the enthusiasts, but its retention for so long made little commercial sense when one reflects that the last trams ran in 1925.

The Wulfrunian story is well known. The vehicle was designed to ideas held by the West Riding Chief Engineer for a front engined, front entrance 'decker, but Guy chose to build in a host of new, and unproven features - air suspension all round, independent at the front (the negative camber of the front wheels was extraordinary) and hydraulically operated disc brakes on four wheels. The result was a maintenance nightmare, but some of the design bugs - an air pressure braking system would have cured the boiling fluid problem for example - could well have been sorted out had not Guy run into severe financial difficulties with its South African sales operation. Guy called in the receivers, and was bought by William Lyons of Jaguar/Daimler. When Lyons sold out to Leyland, by this time under the misguidance of "super salesman" Donald Stokes, Guy was doomed like all the other Leyland acquisitions. The fact that,when closed, it was the only factory in the group still making profits cut no ice with the Leyland top brass.

Despite its well recorded failings, the Wulfrunian was a superb vehicle to ride on. The Guy semi auto gearbox gave smart, smooth changes, and the suspension coped extremely well with the rough roads of the Yorkshire coalfield area, many of which were pretty dreadful. I never drove one, but I met a Shearings coach driver a couple of years ago who did drive these machines, and he recalls the narrow cramped cab, and the heat given off by the 6LX engine close to his left leg - Gardners had a right hand exhaust system. A failure, no doubt, but a remarkable one.

Below are a few shots of the Wulfrunion in service showing both liveries.

Roger Cox

Not quite sure of the location of BHL 369C - 1018 but the building top right has the word Doncaster on it, possibly the local newspaper.

This shot of THL 898 - 898 was taken in Bradford the trollybus wires can just be seen.

WHL 968 - 968 Taken in Leeds a couple of Leeds City Transport buses a Titan and a Daimler CV can be seen in the distance.

WHL 975 - 975 Taken somewhere in the Bradford area.

The header shot of this gallery is aslo of WHL 975 - 975 this time taken in Wakefield bus station.


The "Doncaster" photo must be that strange "North Western" bus station that West Riding & others used on the west side of North Bridge, approached by umpteen steps. For years an old static bus top was all that could be seen of it. The "Doncaster" building is the Doncaster Evening Post, a relatively new paper then, in the old BRS depot.



A fascinating selection of photos, Roger - many thanks. The view of 1018 at Doncaster is particularly evocative as a reminder of this remote and inconvenient bus station - looking strangely empty in this view. Apparently, this bus was allocated to Selby depot between April 1966 and December 1967 which helps to date the scene of it on the long Doncaster - Selby - York route. Your comments on the ride quality were not universally shared. I personal enjoyed the rolling and nodding movements, but I knew of many passengers who felt positively sea-sick after a ride on one. In my mind's-eye I can still hear the hissing of the air suspension and the rattle of the engine cover on the front platform. I can also remember the sense of apprehension as I cautiously descended the forward-facing stairs in case the driver braked too heavily. Wonderful days!

Paul Haywood


The shot of 1018 is definitely in Doncaster. There was quite a discussion on Wulfrunians on the SCT61 website a little while ago and one thing that came out of that was that 1018 was the only one of the type allocated to Selby depot, which I think means it was probably the only one of the type to get to Doncaster on service. It's a sweeping statement I know and there were probably odd exceptions. (For that matter it would also be the only one to get to York as well!) That makes the photo particularly interesting.
The shot of 975 is taken at Hall Ings in Bradford which was the terminus at the time. It had moved a few years earlier and was to stay there until the Interchange opened - a development which was to see the end of the stone building behind. The Bradford routes were amongst the last to see Wulfrunians, but red ones I suggest were less common, it wasn't a "red" route. Therefore I suspect the shot of 898 was taken when the red livery was being phased out and the two fleets were no longer distinguished.

David Beilby


Yes, the Doncaster picture is indeed taken in the old ghastly bus station under the North Bridge. On the same side of the bridge, a few yards west and opposite the newspaper building, was a depot of Bullock and Sons and, I hope I'm not wrong, I think that the Doncaster to Selby and York service was originally B & S. By the time I drove the route in Caldaire/Arriva days it was service 405.
The Leeds picture is most interesting - it shows a Wulfrunian departing from the tiny West Riding bus station in York Street which had to be built when the Rothwell and Wakefield/Kettlethorpe services 18 and 10 were "evicted" from the curve at the Corn Exchange which they had shared with the number 14 LCT trams. This bus is heading for "Kettlethorpe" 10. The route is now numbered 110 and is still to this day referred to by Belle Isle depot staff as "The Track."

Chris Youhill


Just a few additional comments to add to the above; I too was not impressed with the riding qualities of these vehicles. I remember a trip in the early 1980s on preserved UCX 275 and after a while having to move downstairs as I felt rather nauseous, and I am normally a good traveler. The Bradford (green) photograph I believe is adjacent to the Jacob's Well pub, maybe David can confirm this. There is a viaduct in the background which I presume would have been connected with the old Exchange station. Re. Chris's comments about "The Track"; perhaps this is an expression which many companies used about their busiest route. I am from Lancaster and certainly the joint Ribble/Lancaster routes 470-2 from Heysham to Lancaster University were also known as "The Track" and were the final o-p-o conversions in 1981/2. The West Riding 110 route is of course still very active - and probably the most profitable - Wakefield Arriva route today, operating on a 10 minute frequency with every other journey extended to Hall Green. How much of this route did the Wakefield trams cover?

Dave Towers


Wasn't the Doncaster location known as Marshgate? Every time I pass through Doncaster on the train, it seems that the area still remains but without the stands. It was always described as ghastly and gloomy but what an atmospheric place! Personally, I think the new Frenchgate interchange is little better with its tortuous exit for vehicles. The old Northern and Southern Bus Stations had a perverse sort of character about them even if they weren't very welcoming for passengers and the Southern still exists virtually unchanged except that it is now a car park but it is possible to find the odd bus in there occasionally. I don't know how many abandoned bus stations we have in the UK (there's one in Milton Keynes) but they are very evocative places when you stand there and remember what used to be. As for Wakefield, when I visited there for the first time in many years and found the new 'apology' for the wonderful place in the picture, I felt terribly disappointed!

Chris Barker


Yes- it was Marshgate, and a marsh it must once have been, by the river. Does anyone know anything about those dead buses that could be seen over the fence? DCT, I think, and possibly trolleybuses. The old North Bridge Bus Station on the other side carried three major routes in a tiny space, plus extras: and a squeezed 180 degree exit for all, without power steering, across the A1! The young foolish and late would chase the bus across the road during this turn. The original Wakefield/Leeds tram route went as far- I think- as the Castle pub on Barnsley Road. There was/is a reversing space there. The old Wakefield bus station had become a bit of a death trap with its free mixture of buses and passengers: then a chance came to sell it for shopping and move the bus station on to the central "depot"- was that once Bullock's?- and passengers and buses are now safely segregated- but don't watch Airplane!
Finally... there was no finer sight than a Wulfrunian at full Gardner burble bucking along the undulating road from the A1 to Pontefract through Barnsdale. You expected to find the driver standing up at the reins, whipping the engine.



Thanks to all for identifying the Doncaster site, and the background geographical notes on the other locations. After so long, I couldn't remember where I had photographed 1018. I must have taken that picture on one of my visits to Doncaster to photograph some of the fascinating independent operators that graced the town in those days. In the latter days of the Wulfrunian, I recall that the front seats on the upper deck forward of the front wheels were taken out and the area "fenced off" by a rail, no doubt to reduce the heavy load on the front suspension caused by the cantilevered mounting of the 6LX engine. I would think that, towards the end of their time, the doubtful integrity of the body structure must have dictated withdrawal, quite apart from the challenging maintenance issues.

Roger Cox


Yes, it's surprising how long the term "Track route" lasted in various locations long after the conversion from trams. West Riding's Leeds to Rothwell and Sandal tram routes weren't actually converted until 1932 (as was the Ossett - Wakefield - Agbrigg route, which also became a red "Track" bus route) Similarly, the tram services on Yorkshire Woollen District's trunk routes from Birtstall, through Dewsbury, to Thornhill and Ravensthorpe also became "Track routes" when they were replaced by buses - also in 1932. Instead of giving the replacement buses a different colour, YWD numbered the Track routes A, B, C etc to differentiate them from the non-trunk services.

Paul Haywood


The bus seen leaving the small bus station in Leeds is about to pass the old abattoir which was next to the main Leeds bus station. As a young child I can remember the tram my mother and I were traveling on being held up by sheep being walked to it from the rail yard at Marsh Lane.

Chris Hough


Wonderful photos! Memories flooded back of riding on these handsome beasts with my Dad between 1963-66. At the time, our family lived off Valley Road in Shipley, and Dad worked as a driver for Newfarm Eggs at Drighlington. During the school holidays I was allowed to ride with Dad and his 'van lad' in UVY 715, his allocated Thames Trader. (Couldn't do that now with the old Health & Safety eh?) We didn't have a car at one point, and so trips on Guy Wulfrunians up and down Wakefield Road between Bradford and Drighlington became a highlight of our commute. Although ignorant of such things as air suspension at the time, I did love the gentle nodding ride, and the quirkiness of that nearside staircase. Sometimes on the way home, by way of a change a Bradford C.T. 'tin front' AEC Regent III/East Lancs would appear and transport us to 'City'. (The 'HKWs' had a charm of their own and I just loved the sound of their engines). After moving to Harrogate in 1966, I came across the Wulfrunians again in Leeds in 1969, when as a West Yorkshire apprentice I regularly attended Kitson College on East Street. This entailed a walk from Vicar Lane and past the Central Bus Station, and if luck was in, a 'Wulf' would be sighted. By this time I knew something of air suspension and found the negative camber of the Wulfrunian's independent front suspension absolutely fascinating. I did wonder how many unknowing passengers actually thought the wheels were about to fall off! It was a great shame about the suspension and other problems that beset the Wulfrunian. Maybe if it had been built ten years later, the advances in technology would have allowed its ingenious design to have had the success it deserved. As a matter of interest, West Riding buses always seemed somewhat slow in top gear compared to say a West Yorkshire Lodekka, or Bradford Regent V. Did the West Riding vehicles carry a 'maximum speed 40 mph' transfer on the side at one time, or was that simply childhood imagination?

Brendan Smith


Brendan, I can't say I ever noticed a "40 mph" transfer but probably only because it was obligatory in the days that you mention for the speed to be displayed as part of the "legal lettering." Certainly for most of my time I was used to every operator's buses displaying "speed 30 mph", and I seem to recall that the limit for service buses was indeed raised to 40 mph at some point - it is just a great shame, scandal even, that managements and schedules departments chose to be "unaware" of such legal requirements. The phrase "double standards" comes to mind !!

Chris Youhill


I believe it was in 1961 that the speed limit for PSVs was raised from 30 to 40mph.

Peter Williamson

02/08/11 - 07:01

West Riding also had 1019 allocated to Selby, It ran usually with 1018 on the 134,

John S Hinchliffe

06/02/12 - 11:30

The Guy Wulfrunian was probably a good idea that just hadn't been developed sufficiently. In some ways it anticipated the later Ailsa Volvo with its front mounted engine, but maybe the Gardner 6LX engine was just too big and heavy to stick on the front overhang. A good friend used to drive for West Riding at Castleford in the 1960's, and he remembers that some of his more portly colleagues were unable to install themselves in Wulfrunians, and were excused from driving them. I rode on them a few times between Wakefield and Dewsbury remember them most for their extreme rolling and wallowing suspension which could induce a distinct queasiness. I have also included a link to a good video for Old Bus Sounds page.

John Stringer

04/05/12 - 17:19

I believe that the two terminii of the tram route that preceded The West Riding No 10 bus route were Wood Lane ("Jawbone Lane) at Rothwell Haigh and Barnsley Road, Sandal, adjacent The Castle Inn. I may be wrong, but also think the house at the bus stop belonged to West Riding Auto Ltd and was used for the welfare of tram/bus crews.

Mick Taylor

05/05/12 - 17:03

The two termini were far more dramatic than that Mick, and in fact until 1932 West Riding trams actually ran through to Leeds and terminated at a barrier in Kirkgate, adjacent to the side entrance to the Market. The trackwork beyond the City boundary at Thwaite Gate was owned by West Riding and a complex mileage agreement existed whereby the branch workings to Rothwell were largely worked by Leeds City Tramways cars.

Chris Youhill

22/07/15 - 05:49

Your photograph of the green Wulfrunian WHL 975 with the caption "taken somewhere in Bradford" is actually just above the junction of Hall Ings and Nelson Street. If the camera panned to the right you would see the Jacob's Well pub. Like most of the buildings of note in Bradford the one in the background is long gone replaced by a concrete shoebox.

Colin Cross

26/05/16 - 05:43

Reading your pages about the Wulfrunian, there was a comment that it was a pity that Bury did not try a Wulfrunian demo. I'm not sure it would have been a benefit....I recall Southampton, traditional user of Guy for a "million" years, had a Wufrunian demo (painted yellow) for a short while. Not popular with drivers or passengers and no order was placed. I am thinking that Southampton had the last Arab III ever made (reg no LOW 274?)but interestingly never bought Guy after that. Went to slightly oddball Leyland and then Regent V. And a bit of gossip, SCT were the people who damaged the front of the AEC Bridgemaster demo (which was painted dark blue/white) It was driven into the back of an Arab III which was stationary at a bus stop in the city! I know, cos I was upstairs on the Bridgemaster!! An unsual moment, but no photos taken tho'

David Field

15/08/16 - 06:12

Born and bred inWakefield, I love the Wulfs for their originality and quirkiness. In response to the speed comment, they reason the top speed seemed slow was because of the gearing, they were used on the 110 but we're also a mainstay of the 54 and 88 services to Eastmoor. The trip up Peterson Road was quite steep for buses at the time and the older buses went exceptionally slow, in fact you could walk quicker. The Wulfs were geared to come out of the traps like a greyhound, reached 30 mph very quickly and had the gearing to maintain speed up hills, this was at the expense of a higher top speed.
The reason the front seats were cordoned off in later years was due more to the fact the floor had worn paper thin and therefore to prevent passengers ending up in the driving seat, or at least that's what I was told by a conductor when I was a boy.
On a related, WR and Guy note, did they ever build a model called a warrior? I seem to remember my school bus being a guy, from Featherstone depot (former B&S) with a bonnet adornment of an Indian chieftain with full headdress, sure they were called guy warriors? Mind you I was more interested in sitting upstairs on the front seat with the girls from the 4th year, those bench seats were marvellous!
In later life I used to deliver to the B&S sports and social club, still going strong long after the depot had been sold to Kwik Save..

Brian Thackray

15/08/16 - 14:02

Sorry Brian, but I think that mischievous conductor was "having you on" over the worn out flooring. As far as I'm aware the reason the front 8 seats were removed was to try to ease the serious weight/suspension problems over the front axles.

Chris Youhill

16/08/16 - 07:24

Brian, the Guy radiator adornment you observed was probably on a Guy Arab (available in double-deck and single-deck form) which often sported an Indian's head with the legend "Feathers In Our Cap" underneath. The Guy Warrior was a heavy goods vehicle, but there was a Guy Warrior Trambus which from memory was a rugged, straighforward, front-engined bus chassis for export to developing countries. The model used AEC's engines and I believe was quite successful. Reference to Guy's "Feathers In Our Cap" motto reminded me that many years ago West Yorkshire's electrical department foreman, Bob Page, mentioned that a friend had driven a few Guy buses in the past, and had not enjoyed the experience, commenting "Well they know where they can stick their bl***y feathers!".
Chris is quite right in his comments re the Wulfrunians having their front upper deck seats removed, to ease the load on the independent front suspension. Your conductor deserves a clip round the ear for that one!

Brendan Smith

16/08/16 - 14:01

Brendan Smith is quite right in his comments about the was also a UK PSV chassis of that name. Robin Hannay mentions it in his booklet "Feathers in their Cap", and says it was named the Warrior LUF, and was introduced in 1956 to replace the Arab LUF. The prototype chassis had a Burlingham Seagull body, the engine was a Meadows 4HDC330 4 cylinder type with a 5-speed Meadows gearbox. It was registered SJW515, and later went to Dodds of Troon in 1958. Robin Hannay mentions 3 other demonstrators with various bodies and engine / gearbox arrangements. Jasper Pettie's book "Guy Buses in Camera" states that the Warrior LUF was mainly an export model, with just a few UK versions, and that the Arab LUF continued in production. I recall reading somewhere that a small Yorkshire operator had a Guy Warrior coach or bus acquired second-hand, which was nick-named "The Worrier"! Wonder why??

Michael Hampton

16/06/18 - 07:18

The photo on WHL 968 is coming out of the small West Riding bus atation on the corner of New York street and Cross York Street, where there is a co-op today.
People have said about the no 10 to Kettlethorpe, but I remember in the 1970's there were 2 routes operated from there.
Cant find any pictures of that bus station. The canopies were of concrete.
There was one canopy along the west and south side of the site, and there was an island with an office etc. One route went from the perimeter and another from the island. Front loader buses with doors so quite modern for the 70's. and more modern than the green west ridings that went into the central bus station.
The red buses eventually went to the central bus station and the bus station was derelict for some years.
Over the road in cross York street there was a depot for walls hot dog trolleys that traded in the city centre in the evenings.

Ken Holway

17/06/18 - 07:30

Ken, here are a few shots taken in the New York Street bus station, one of which shows the other route you remember - Rothwell (18).

Paul Haywood

17/06/18 - 07:31

Did not the short to Rothwell run from there and display a different number?

Stuart Emmett

18/06/18 - 07:23

Funnily enough the Midland Red/Midland Fox/ Arriva 4/48 Leicester-Wigston Magna-South Wigston-Leicester and vice versa was always known as "the track" and at one time was route-branded as such with a picture of a tram on it.
Despite working for Midland Fox, I have no knowledge of any history of trams operating on this route, unless of course the City operated trams outside the boundary. I do know that at my time at MF Citybus/now First had a ( very) minority presence in South Wigston, but (little or) none in Wigston Magna.

Malcolm Hirst

19/06/18 - 05:55

Malcolm, that's interesting information regarding the Midland Red Fox "track" route. Sadly, Leicester trams never ventured beyond the city boundary so it is puzzling why this term was used for the Wigston bus circular. The only southern (radial) tram routes were to Stoneygate (boundary) along London Road, Clarendon Park (Stanfell Road) along Welford Road, Aylestone (Wigston Lane) along Aylestone Road and Narborough Road (Harlaxston Street) along Narborough Road. Apart from a few route closures before the war, most of the system survived until 1947-9.

Paul Haywood

23/06/18 - 07:09

Thanks for that. I was sure that their were no Leicester City trams over that route.
I suppose that there could be a remote possibility of "company" horse, steam trams, or even electric trams replaced by Midland Red buses later - there must have been some local service prior to Midland Red's arrival.It should be noted that there was no Midland Red presence in Leicester until 1922.
I think that "The Track" might be some reference to the frequency of the service and the loadings thereon - it was certainly frequent, and while knowledge of the finances were well above my pay grade, it must have been one of the most profitable services in the Leicester area - redolent of the heyday of the trams in fact. It was always colloquially called the track, but no-one could tell me why at the time - regrettably all the old-timers had gone by the time I gravitated there. It had already become "Midland Red (East)" when I got there, and was no longer so Birmingham-centric as before.

Malcolm Hirst



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