© 2019 by BLACK PRINCE BUSES.

 

The minibus fleet-the little buses of Morley.

 

 

The Minibus story started in May 1969, when Brian purchased a Bedford CALV30 with Martin Walter bodywork. The little B11F bus came from Wallace Arnold, being the first of many buses and coaches sourced from the iconic Leeds operator. 

 

July 1971 saw the arrival of a very early example of the Ford Transit, being a 1969 model of the worlds favourite van. The Deansgate bodied machine had been new in 1969, and was sourced from Lloyd of Maghull. This Ford was withdrawn in November 1974 and sold on in September 1975. 

 

In the December of 1974, the Black Prince fleet was enhanced with the purchase of a new Ford Transit 12 seater minibus, replacing the previous Ford Transit in the fleet.

 

This little Ford was the first brand new bus to join the Black Prince family, the machine being used on private hire work until 1975.

 

With the de-regulation of local bus work in 1986, thoughts turned to new routes and the 752 was launched in May 1990. The "Morley Local" threaded through many narrow housing estates and a mini service bus was required to operate it. 

 

Along came a Mercedes-Benz, in 1989, which was the first M-B vehicle on the books. The Mercedes stayed in Morley until 1991, being replaced by the first of many Optare "Metrorider" minibuses, which became the fleet standard for good reason, the later incarnations of the type proving to show rugged reliablity, much improved build quality and plenty of hill climbing power.

 

A spare minibus was in the fleet from 1993, in the shape of a Leyland Sherpa, which started life as one of the machines in use by rivals, Yorkshire Rider, on the "MicroRIder" branded routes at the time.

 

The minibus in general played a starring role in the Black Prince fleet for several years, towards the end, final generation Metroriders serving the harder to reach parts of Leeds and Morley on routes 66, 67, 63A, 66A.

 

Sadly, unless we can prove otherwise, all of the former Black Prince minbuses ended up in the scrapyard, drawing to close the minibus history of the Morley company.

 

A reference list of the minibuses which operated for Black Prince is shown below, with a more detailed look at each individual vehicle-including a selection of images, which can be viewed by scrolling lower down this page.

 

 

DNW553C

BEDFORD CALV30 (378697) MARTIN WALTER (19394.5.523) B11F NEW 08/1965 EX WALLACE ARNOLD

RKB482G

FORD TRANSIT (BC05HE48224) DEANSGATE B12F NEW 02/1969 EX LLOYD MAGHULL

HNW4N

FORD TRANSIT (BD05PS63166) DEANSGATE B12F NEW 12/1974 NEW TO BLACK PRINCE

D249ABV

MERCEDES-BENZ 609D (668063-20-796962) REEVE BURGESS (16681) B21F NEW 05/1987 EX ABBEYWAY

G842LWR

OPTARE METRORIDER (MR09) OPTARE 2000 B23F NEW 02/1990 EX OPTARE DEMONSTRATOR

D753JUB

FREIGHT ROVER SHERPA (274943) DORMOBILE (7463 979 86 B20F NEW 10/1986 EX AINTREE COACHLINE

E130SNY

MCW METRORIDER (MF150/53 MB9494) MCW DP23F NEW 01/1988 EX CARDIFF BUS

E136SNY

MCW METRORIDER (MF150/52 MB9488) MCW B23F NEW 01/1988 EX CARDIFF BUS

K167FYG

OPTARE METRORIDER (OE MR01 VN1264) (OE1264) B31F NEW 09/1992 EX HEATON LEIGH

K168FYG

OPTARE METRORIDER (OE MR01 VN1265) (OE1265) B31F NEW 09/1992 EX HEATON LEIGH

N289DWY

OPTARE METRORIDER (OE MR17 VN1876) (OE1876) B24F NEW 01/1996 EX OPTARE DEMONSTRATOR

R51SWR

OPTARE METRORIDER (OE MR17 VN2274) (OE2274) B29F NEW 06/1998 NEW TO BLACK PRINCE

V237LWU

OPTARE METRORIDER (OE MR17 VN2324) (OE2324) B31F NEW 10/1999 NEW TO BLACK PRINCE

J608SJB

OPTARE METRORIDER (OE MR07 VN1065) (OE1065) B25F NEW 09/1991 EX READING BUSES

Please reload

DNW553C

*FACTFILE*

 

Chassis-Bedford CALV30 378697

Body-Martin Walter 19394.5.523 B11F

Registered-August 1965

 

 

RKB482G

*FACTFILE*

 

Chassis-Ford Transit BC05HE48224

Body-Deansgate B12F

Registered-February 1969

 

 

*FACTFILE*

 

Chassis-Ford Transit BD05PS63166

Body-Deansgate B12F

Registered-December 1974

 

The little Ford was bodied by the Deansgate coachworks, and was painted initially in allover white.

 

Later, with a green stripe added below the window line, the bus looked superb.

 

A stylish Black Prince fleetname, complete with the black horse, representing the statue of the Black Prince in Leeds City Square-the statue which inspired the company name.

 

The Black Prince name was also displayed across the front of the vehicle, right above the windscreen.

 

The Transit was sold in October 1975, to Atkins of Newtown.

 

The upper photo shows very young brother and sister David and Katie Crowther, posing in front of Dads new addition to the bus family!.

 

The lower photograph shows the Ford parked at the Cow Close premises, the home of Bert Colley.

 

 

HNW4N

D249ABV

*Factfile*

 

Chassis-Mercedes-Benz 609D

668063-20-796962

Body-Reeve-Burgess 16681 B21F

New in May 1897.

 

D249ABV was purchased from East Pennine, Hailfax (Abbeyways) in August 1989.

 

The Mercedes was the first example of a product from the German manufacturer to enter fleet at

Black Prince. 

 

The bus was purchased in order to operate the newly launched "Morley Local" route 752, from May 1990, which required a minibus to negotiate its way through the narrow housing estates which the 

service targeted.

 

The 752 route became a successful operation, resulting in the purchase of a new vehicle, 842, spelling the end of the little Mercedes.

 

D249ABV was withdrawn and sold in the March of 1991, to Jones of Oakley. 

 

There is a record of the minibus on the photography website, Flickr, having been re-registered as TXI8761. The bus is recorded as being exported from the UK in 2008.

G842LWR

*Factfile*

 

Chassis-Optare MetroRider MR09

Body-Optare 2000 B23F

Registered-February 1990

 

The bus chosen to replace 249 on the 752 route, heralded a new era for the business, being the first of several Optare "Metrorider" type minibuses.

 

G842LWR was purchased directly from Optare, after it had served as a demonstrator for the design, which Optare had recently taken over from MCW.

 

842 came to Morley in January 1991, lasting several years in the fleet, almost exclusively on the 752 route in Morley, before being scrapped and replaced by older machine, 130, which is detailed lower down this page.

*Factfile*

 

Chassis-Freight Rover Sherpa 274943

Body-Dormobile 746397986 B20F new in October 1986 to Yorkshire Rider Limited.

 

D753JUB, new in 1986, to Yorkshire Rider, was used in direct competition with Black Prince in the early years of de-regulation on the "Micro-Rider" branded minibus network.

 

Yorkshire Rider must have been less than amused when their former Sherpa, fleet number "1753" appeared on the streets of Morley, having been sourced from a friend across the Pennines, John Cherry of Aintree Coachlines, who took the bus from Yorkshire Rider on disposal.

 

The Sherpa was added to the fleet to act as a spare vehicle for the Metrorider on the 752 route, covering maintenance and unavailability.

 

Owing to unpopularity with the maintenance department and bus crews alike, D753JUB was not to last long with Black Prince, being scrapped shortly.

 

 

D753JUB

E130SNY/E136SNY

The Cardiff bus pair joined the fleet to replace the Optare 842 on the Morley Local service.

 

130 was the better bus of the pair so 136 was returned to the dealer and 130 painted into it's own version of house livery.

 

130 never proved to be a top quality machine, being of the earlier MCW type, prone to rot and build quality issues.

 

The little MCW was not long for this world and was withdrawn around the same time as the 752 service ceased to operate. 

A bigger little bus-Metrorider-Longer.

After successfully winning the tender to operate the Leeds minibus services, under contract to METRO, Black Prince required a longer, more modern minibus.

 

A pair of K-Registered Optare Metroriders were sourced, being of a longer length than previous members of the fleet and a more modern design with improvements to the body, design and the engines.

 

The Minibuses operated over the routes 66/67 Monday to Saturday, with the 63A/66A operating Sunday only. 

K167FYG

K168FYG

*FACTFILE*

 

K167/8FYG

Chassis-Optare MetroRider Oe MR01VN1264/5

Body-Oe 1264/5 B31F

Registered-September 1992

 

167 and 168 were new in 1992, to Heaton of Leigh, Lancs.

 

They migrated over the pennines and were used at Black Prince to launch the new METRO tendered services as detailed above.

 

Naturally, upon arrival at Black Prince, both buses had an individual version of the fleet livery designed and applied, both looking very smart with snazzy stripes painted in company colours.

 

The narrow bodied pair were identical and both had a B31F minibus body, with several design improvements over the previous smaller MetroRider.

 

Unfortunately, these two buses suffered from overheating, resulting in regular failures to start when the engines were hot and the arduous routes operated were doing the pair no good. 

 

Eventually, further fleet improvement resulted in the search for replacement vehicles, with 167 and 168 being stood down to reserve duties and crew shuttle buses at Fountain Street depot.

 

The final generation of MetroRider was now available for purchase, a brand new machine was delivered, in the shape of R51SWR, detailed below.

R51SWR

51

51

N289DWY

V237LWU

J608SJB