The Bus Up the Dale

Vintage Roadscene articles
written by Reuben Frankau of Low Row,
kindly commissioned by David Hayward, Deputy Editor,
whose enthusiastic support and assistance from the beginning of this project
until his death in April 2012 we very gratefully acknowledge. His friendship will be missed.

February 2010: Vintage Roadscene Issue 123
“Tim Scratcherd T/A Reeth Motor Service” (pp. 42–45)
features Tim and Doris Scratcherd of the Black Bull at Reeth, who ran motor-buses up Swaledale and Arkengarthdale from 1921 to 1938. Six previously unpublished b. & w. photographs and a period advertisement. An unfortunate misprint on p. 42 was corrected, after some delay, in the May 2010 Issue (no. 126), p. 52. We can only apologise to the Stubbs and Stones families, both of Arkengarthdale, whose 1920s motor operations were unintentionally conflated by an over-hasty sub-editor.

October 2010: Vintage Roadscene Issue 131
“Sunter’s coaches? But they ran wagons, didn’t they?” (pp. 48–51)
furnishes an overview of Tom “Fire” Sunter’s P. S. V. sideline, ca 1949-1960. Like the Percivals, the “Fires” were a Gunnerside family, though more widely known and remembered as heavy hauliers based at Northallerton. Eight b. & w. photographs, six by veteran transport photographer Roy Marshall and two, previously unpublished, from the Sunter family’s own archives. This piece was drafted with the co-operation of the “Fire” Sunters, for which we are very grateful as some members of the family were initially mistrustful of this project, having had their fingers burned in previous local history efforts. We are also indebted (as always) to Deputy Editor David Hayward for bearing with us while every dot and comma was carefully considered here at the Yorkshire end. Interested parties may also wish to procure a copy of the book Sunter’s—High, Wide and Mighty, by Tony Eaton of Northallerton, which covers the heavy haulage for which the “Fires” became famous.

January 2011: Vintage Roadscene Issue 134
“Percival’s of Gunnerside—Part 1” (pp. 50–53)
begins the Percival’s story in Victorian times and carries it as far as the Second World War. During this period, the long-established Gunnerside firm of Lodge Percival and Sons began to be superseded by the Limited Company which Lodge’s three sons—William, James, and John Lodge—set up in 1937. Nine b. & w. photographs, all previously unpublished, and two period advertisements.

February 2011: Vintage Roadscene Issue 135
“Percival’s of Gunnerside—Part 2” (pp. 48–53)
takes up the story of Percival Brothers (Coaches), Ltd, at the end of the War and carries it through to the end of the 1950s, by which time William and James had both died leaving John Lodge Percival—not unlike George VI—unexpectedly carrying the can. Fourteen b. & w. photographs, eleven from P.M. Photography and three, previously unpublished, from the Percival family’s own archives, which also yielded an impressive 1940s colour business card for this piece.

May 2011: Vintage Roadscene Issue 138
“Percival’s of Gunnerside—Part 3” (pp. 46–49)
concludes the tale, covering the period from late 1960 to the Summer of 1971. Seven b. & w. photographs from various sources, and also three previously unpublished colour snaps and a 1960s advertisement. Naturally there will be much more on Percival’s—and likewise on Scratcherd’s and Sunter’s—in the forthcoming book, The Bus Up the Dale.

Right up to the time of his death, David Hayward—in his capacity as Deputy Editor—was eager to include more Percival’s-related articles in Vintage Roadscene, but unfortunately a change of Editor during 2011 ended the amicable working relationship which we had previously enjoyed with the magazine—though not before we succeeded in putting Vintage Roadscene in touch with our comrade-in-arms Keith Kitching of Scarborough, who is himself compiling the history of the Darlington firm, Scott’s Greys—due out in March 2017, we hear.


Keith Kitching’s support for the Percival’s project has been moral as well as practical, and he also happens to be the proud owner of a former Scott’s Greys saloon which was used in the filming of B. B. C. Television’s “All Creatures Great and Small” in the 1980s (and, more recently, in “Heartbeat”)—this and the several other buses appearing in “All Creatures Great and Small” will be featured in Chapter XI of The Bus Up the Dale. Keith Kitching’s long-awaited book on Scott’s Greys, and other Darlington operators, was published in April 2017—congratulations, Keith! Keith Kitching’s Vintage Roadscene pieces were very well received, and to date include:–

July 2010: Issue 128
“Scott’s Greys of Darlington”—a brief history of the firm—for further details, buy Keith’s book as soon as it comes out! Hopefully, this will be in March 2017.
August 2010: Issue 129
“Small Plaxton Motor Coaches of the Early 1950s”—a feature on the smaller coaches built by Plaxton’s of Scarborough in the 1950s, including RHN 548 which Keith knows a bit about, as it belongs to him! Wesley Harker of Reeth ran a Plaxton-bodied 14-seater Commer in the 1960s, so Swaledale bus aficionadi may wish to take note . . .
June 2011: Issue 139
“Cold War Coach Driver”—a fascinating memoir of Keith’s time driving the staff transport at R. A. F. Fylingdales listening station in the early 1970s
July 2011: Issue 140
“Spring and Summer with Wallace Arnold”—a season driving for Wallace Arnold (better known to some as “Wally’s Trolleys”) at Scarborough
September 2011: Issue 142
“On and Off the Buses”—Memories of driving for United Automobile Services at Scarborough
October 2011: Issue 143
“On and Off the Buses—More Happy Memories”
November 2011: Issue 144
“On and Off the Buses—More Fun and Games”
December 2011: Issue 145
“Even Marriage . . .”—Keith’s exploits on United buses include holy matrimony
January 2012: Issue 146
“G. N. E. Motor Services, Ltd”—a brief history of this noted Darlington operator
March 2012: Issue 148
“Scott’s Greys”—the first part of a three-part history
April 2012: Issue 149
“Blackpool and Abroad”—the second part of this three-part Scott’s Greys feature
May 2012: Issue 150
“Scott’s Greys and the Army”—the third and concluding part of this feature—military runs of course provided work for many local operators, including Sunter’s and Percival’s
June 2012: Issue 151
“Saving Spudbus One”—Keith has an enviable knack of being in the right place at the right time, and on this occasion managed to save a London Transport Routemaster (RML2530), known as “The Potato Bus”, from being scrapped
August 2012: Issue 153
“Driving for Browning’s of Darlington” (Part I)—does what it says on the tin
September 2012: Issue 154
“Driving for Browning’s of Darlington” (Part II)—concludes the Browning’s memories begun in Issue 154
October 2012: Issue 155
“A Bus Driver Again” (Part I)—Keith recalls his time as a driver for Darlington Corporation
November 2012: Issue 156
“A Bus Driver Again” (Part II)—more Darlington Corporation reminiscences
December 2012: Issue 157
“Municipal Transport in Darlington”—a potted history of Darlington Corporation
February 2013: Issue 159
“Into the World of Transport Without Even Trying” (Part I)—a ‘prequel’ to Keith’s earlier tales of working on the buses
March 2013: Issue 160
“Into the World of Transport Without Even Trying” (Part II)—concludes the ‘prequel’ to Keith’s earlier tales
June 2013: Issue 163
“How a Small 1952 Coach Changed My Life” (Part I)—a history of Keith’s own favourite piece of Scott’s Greys memorabilia, the Austin RHN 548
July 2013: Issue 164
“How a Small 1952 Coach Changed My Life” (Part II)—bringing the story of RHN 548 up to date

Meanwhile, if anyone out there can add any information or memories to Keith’s researches on Scott’s Greys—or other Darlington operators such as G. N. E.—then, as with our own researches on Percival’s and other Swaledale bus services, do please get in touch.

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