The Bus Up the Dale

Isaiah Allen
Bridge Inn

Simon Coates

John Ellerton
Marrick & Reeth

Ronald Gregory
Bridge Inn

Dick Guy

Wesley Harker
Harker’s Coaches

Metcalfe Iveson

J. T. Martin

George Metcalfe

Albert Morton
National Road
Traffic Co.

Lodge Percival & Sons

Percival Brothers
(Coaches), Ltd.

Fleet List

Fleet List

One of Percival’s three Leyland Comets (KXU 675) climbs Gunnerside Big Bridge ca 1960. Photograph: George Milner collection.

April 2017
People keep asking when The Bus Up the Dale will be published, and we still aren’t sure—but it’s getting closer all the time. Originally conceived as a brief history of the fondly-remembered Swaledale firm, Percival Brothers (Coaches), Ltd, since it somehow became a Grand Universal History of Every Bus in Swaledale and Arkengarthdale Ever, it’s taken longer than we thought. A lot longer, actually.

Meanwhile, we’re delighted to announce that Keith Kitching’s long-awaited book on Scott’s Greys, and other Darlington operators, is about to be published—keep an eye on the local press and the enthusiast magazines for further information—congratulations, Keith!

Latest from Reuben:–
After two terrible years unavoidably taken up by other, demanding, not-for-pleasure projects, work on the book recommenced in February 2017. The difficult bit is not the writing, it’s the monumental two-year backlog of tidying-up and filing so that all the right information is in the right place when I need it! Writing I enjoy; nobody likes tidying up (or nobody in my circle of acquaintances, anyway), but this huge and necessary task is progressing as rapidly as health permits.
Now then—to help with the final draft of Chapter I, can anyone perchance remind me:
(1) when Richmond Post Office moved from Queens Road to Finkle Street?
(2) when the Royal Mail started running its own post buses in Wensleydale (they’re shown in United’s 1992 timetable, and not in the 1982 one, so presumably the answer must be some time between 1982 and 1992, or perhaps actually 1992)?
Please use the “Contact Us” link on the right!

The draft of The Bus Up the Dale currently stands at 47,000 words—taking the story from Albert Morton’s pioneering post-bus service between Richmond and Keld in 1905 to the formation by Percival’s of a Limited Company in 1937, and introducing some cherished 1940s anecdotes. People with no interest in buses have said it’s very readable and absorbing so far—and they (poor souls) have been slogging through the text without the benefit of the hundreds of accompanying photographs and other illustrations which have accumulated. The book is intended to continue to 1971—when Percival’s finished—and beyond.

We’ve been wonderfully fortunate in enjoying the assistance of locals with long memories, and present-day relations of the characters who ran the buses. Thanks to these people, when The Bus Up the Dale finally appears in print, it will be much much more than a collection of bus photographs and old timetables. We were also extremely grateful to the Swaledale Museum for their support earlier in this project.

We were encouraged to put some articles together for Vintage Roadscene magazine by the late David Hayward, whose personal assistance with The Bus Up the Dale was considerable and very much appreciated. Thanks to David, several pieces on Swaledale family firms were published in 2010 and 2011—listed here for those who may wish to look them up.

For various reasons (chiefly, we’ve forgotten how to upload photographs...), we’re keeping the material on this site to a modest minimum for the time being. We want the information to be accurate and fair (some previous Swaledale local history efforts have caused a lot of bad feeling in this regard), while with photographs—of which we have been lucky to find quite a few—there does arise the issue of respecting and protecting people’s Copyright. Some Copyright-holders are pretty laid back, but some are not, and they do have their reasons. The archive of photographs, advertisements, billheads and suchlike now amounts to over 4,000 images, and as soon as we can work out how to upload them we’ll be adding some of those which we’re confident of being able to put on the internet without upsetting anybody.

The book, The Bus Up the Dale, was to have included a chapter on the Percivals’ shop at Gunnerside. As research progressed, it became inescapably apparent that the grocery, cartage and agricultural side of Lodge Percival’s business encompassed more than enough local history to fill a book on its own. James Percival suggested this second book could be marketed as a companion volume to the first, and called “The Shop Up the Dale”; however, the working title is currently Swaledale Life in the 1930s. It is intended that both of these publications will appeal to anyone with an interest in Swaledale, but transport buffs may wish to bear in mind that there’ll be less about buses in the latter volume.

Tim Scratcherd
Motor Service

John Slack
C. B. Inn

William L. Stones

John Robert

Sunter Bros, Ltd
Broadway Coaches

Tommy Thompson
Swaledale Motor Co.


Tom Urwin
Low Row

James Herriot
Darrowby & District


Vintage Roadscene features