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.

July 2018
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.

Latest from Reuben:–
The book has been embarrassingly delayed by ill health and other problems with which I needn’t bore you here. However, progress was been resumed last year. I’ve given up trying to say when the book will actually be finished: it depends partly upon my health, and partly on what Mr Macmillan referred to as “events, dear boy, events!” As of last month, I can see my carpet again for the first time since 2011. It is not an especially nice carpet, but at least it’s no longer covered in pieces of paper that ought to be in the filing cabinet where I can actually find them. All those pieces of paper are now in the filing cabinet, and surprise surprise I can now find them. This has been quite a major breakthrough.

Please do use the “Contact Us” link on the right! Or if that link doesn’t seem to be working, try

The draft of The Bus Up the Dale is now about 70,000 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. People with no interest in buses have said it’s 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.  At 70,000 words, it looks like it’s roughly two-thirds complete.

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, we’re keeping photographic images on this site to a minimum. We’ve been privileged to be given permission to use many wonderful photographs in the book, but not necessarily on the internet. There is apparently something called Facebook, where a ghastly lot of irresponsible children are breaching many people’s Copyright by stealing and uploading their photographs blatantly. This makes it harder to get permission to use someone’s photographs in the first place, because some private individuals with some amazing collections are (understandably) concerned that images they own may end up all over the internet without their permission. The irresponsible children, some of whom live in or near Richmond, don’t seem to care—and nor does the adult in charge of Facebook! If there is one. If putting a generously loaned image on this web site is going to result in the lender’s generosity being abused by other people plastering it across the internet without permission, then we don’t really have the right to risk putting it up in the first place.

The book 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