At the beginning of the Twentieth Century, the Black Bull at Reeth had for many years been run by the Garbutt family. During the Great War, a Darlington man by the
name of Tim Scratcherd was courting a daughter of the family, Doris Garbutt. Tim and Doris were married in 1918, and in due course became proprietors of the Black Bull
in their own right.
You might think that running a licensed hotel was a full-time occupation in itself, but the Scratcherds also acquired large motor-car for private hire work. By 1921 Tim
Scratcherd, with one Percy Harker, was running a fleet of three motors: a 26-seater, a 16-seater, and a 6-seater. Percy Harkers family had long been grocers at
Langthwaite, and also carriers between Arkengarthdale and Richmond. Percy Harker moved to Leyburn in the mid-1920s and took up other employment, but Tim and Doris Scratcherd
carried on, and by the end of the decade were running two regular bus services: one connecting Arkengarthdale with Reeth and one running
down Swaledale to Richmond.
Quite a few locals were dabbling in motor-bus operation of one kind or another in the early 1920s, but by the 1930s most of these enterprises had ceased, and the only real
competition was between the Scratcherds and the Percivals of Gunnerside, who had also begun running a regular Swaledale service. There are
tales of Tim Scratcherd and Willie Percival racing one another down the dale, vying for faresindeed, the Road Traffic Act 1930 was brought in partly to prevent such
frantic rivalry between bus operators (which was not unique to Swaledale). However, the Scratcherds and the Percivals had already addressed this issue by the time the
Act came in, and were sharing the Richmond bus route as the Swaledale Joint Service.
In 1938, the Scratcherds sold up, leaving Reeth shortly after to run a shop in Darlington, on the corner of Sandriggs and Bates Avenue in the Faverdale part of town.
The Scratcherds buses, and the Dolly Garth garage at Reeth, were bought by the Percivals, although it is said that Tom Fire Sunter of Gunnersidemore
widely remembered as founder and managing director of Sunter Bros heavy haulage businesstried to outbid Willie Percival, with the idea
of breaking into what was self-evidently a lucrative line of business.
An article by Reuben Frankau of Low Row on Tim and Doris Scratcherds bus operation appeared in the February 2010 issue of Vintage Roadscene, including
some additional details and photographs. Further information has come in since that piece was written. As published, the article also included an unfortunate
misprint which was not of our makingindeed we spotted it with horror at the proofing stage, and were assured that it would not come out in print. We can only
apologise for any confusion caused. This error was eventually corrected in the May 2010 edition. When the long-awaited book, The Bus Up the Dale,
is finally printed, it will of course include a chapter on the Scratcherdsthe current draft of this (Chapter IV) stands at 7,000 words, but dont worry,
there are lots of lovely archive images to break up the text!