The Bus Up the Dale

Isaiah Allan
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.

November 2021
People seem to have given up asking when The Bus Up the Dale will be published, but the years 2020 and 2021 have been surprisingly productive (after all, there hasn’t been much else to do since March 2020, other than catch up with work on the book!). Apologies for the shameful lack of updates to this website since 2019. It’s probably safe to say, by now, that I have a bit of a problem getting things done, even at the best of times. On top of that lifelong issue, from time to time there have been health and other difficulties with which I needn’t bore you here. However, I’ve long since given up even trying to say when the book will actually be finished: that would only build up self-imposed pressure, adding to the already huge mental blocks which beset me on a day-to-day basis anyway!

Meanwhile, please do use the “Contact Us” link (below right)—or, if that doesn’t want to work, try

The draft of The Bus Up the Dale is now about 75,000 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 comprising also the beginnings of a chapter on United Automobile Services, and the beginnings of a chapter on Sunter Bros and the week-end leave coaches from Catterick Camp in the 1950s. People with little or no interest in buses have kindly said it’s readable 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, and which actually are still coming in, up to and including the present month of November 2021. In fact, the best thing about the hideous delay in finishing the book is that it will be better illustrated, and better informed, than it would have been if I’d written it in 2006 as originally (if quite unrealistically!) intended.

I’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 all of these people, when The Bus Up the Dale finally does appear, it will be more than just a collection of bus photographs and chassis numbers and old timetables (though there is certainly no shortage of that kind of material!). Also, I remain extremely grateful to the Swaledale Museum for their support earlier in this project, and likewise to the late David Hayward, erstwhile Deputy Editor of Vintage Roadscene magazine, whose personal assistance and encouragement were considerable and very much appreciated. Thanks to David, a few pieces on local bus and coach operations were published in 2010 and 2011—listed here for those who may wish to look them up (but do note more information has come in since then, so they might be a bit more accurate and more informative if I were writing them now).

In more recent years, Chris Lloyd of The Northern Echo (whom I frankly suspect of being a bit of a petrolhead, on the quiet!) has also been very supportive, and has helped me to make contacts I’d never have made without him, as well as unearthing information I might not otherwise have found. If you aren’t already acquainted with his regular Memories feature, then you might like to be—it’s amazing what he comes up with.

Now then, photographs, and why there are so few of them on here: I’ve been privileged to receive permission to use many wonderful photographs in the book, but not necessarily on the internet, and there is apparently something called Facebook, where a lot of irresponsible children are blithely breaching Copyright by uploading other people’s photographs without permission. This makes it harder for responsible adults to get permission to use someone’s photographs in the first place, because some private individuals—and some commercial purveyors of images—with some amazing collections are (understandably) concerned that images they own may end up freely available via the internet to every Tom, Dick, and Harry.  If putting a generously loaned photograph on this web site is going to result in the lender’s generosity being abused by other people gratuitously pinching the image, then I can’t risk putting it up in the first place. However, I am looking at the possibility of watermarking a few images, if I can identify some suitable ones, so that there would be a bit more to look at here. In a lot of cases, though, even that wouldn’t be acceptable.

Actually, as at 30th October 2021, I have identified a whole other issue with putting photographs on this site, namely—I’ve forgotten how to do it. I’ve sent an S. O. S. to the volunteer who originally helped me to get this web site set up, about 2009. It is to be hoped he’ll be able to remember. The system was deliberately designed for me to be able to operate it without him, and it’s worked to the extent I can update the text all on my own, but the method of uploading photographs is beyond me!

Those who have been good enough to make photographs available can be assured I am being as careful as I can about this kind of thing. In fact if I were not, then fewer photographs would have been placed at my disposal than, happily, there have been.

The book was going to include a chapter on the Percivals’ shop at Gunnerside. Before long, it became clear 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 hoped that both of these publications will appeal to anyone with an interest in Swaledale, but naturally there’ll be less for the transport buff 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