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 This Ford was withdrawn in November 1974 and sold on in September 1975.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.
Chassis-Bedford CALV30 378697
Body-Martin Walter 19394.5.523 B11F
Chassis-Ford Transit BC05HE48224
Chassis-Ford Transit BD05PS63166
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.
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
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
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.
Chassis-Optare MetroRider MR09
Body-Optare 2000 B23F
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.
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.
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.
Chassis-Optare MetroRider Oe MR01VN1264/5
Body-Oe 1264/5 B31F
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.