424 Morley "Shophopper" Circular
In the early 1980's, the West Riding bus company was sadly going through a prolonged period of industrial action.
The bus strike was crippling the local economy, so after discussion between the Morley Advertiser newspaper, Morley Chamber of Commerce and Brian Crowther, it was decided to offer a free bus service for shoppers in the immediate area surrounding Morley.
The 424 Morley "Shophopper" Circular route was born, taking in the Morley, Tingley, Ardsley, Thorpe and Gildersome communities and proving a great success. This action would enable business to continue, enable people to shop and use the facilities of Morley town centre.
Upon the deregulation of bus services in 1986, Black Prince leapt at the chance to operate the 424 route commercially.
The route originally operated from Gildersome, via Morley to Thorpe, but with such huge passenger loadings, the timetable eventually became impossible and the route was split in two.
The Morley-Gildersome section became the 420/421 services, with the 420 operating via Morley Bottoms and the 421 operating via Wynyard Drive. Read more about the 420/421 here > (click me)
The Morley to Thorpe section was what remained, still known as the 424 "Shophopper", becoming the regular haunt of the superb ex-London Buses Scania single decker, F113OMJ. The bus was regularly allocated to this route thanks to its frightening turn of speed and ability to keep to time!.
On the division of the 424 route, the new service needed a place to turn around in Morley and somewhere to fill the time so it could form an XX25 departure every hour without blocking the stand, so it was decided to get the bus out of the way for 15 minutes by extending from the town hall to "Westwoodside", the new housing development towards Churwell.
The Westwoodside section was not equipped with bus stops, being of the "Hail N Ride" offering. This extension never proved very lucrative but the passengers who did use the service were most loyal and thankful for the presence of the Black Prince bus link.
During the mid 90's, the 424 service became the regular route for driver Harry Haigh, who became most well known by his regular passengers for his kind manner and relaxed attitude to dropping the old folk off right outside their houses!.
The rolling stock on the route became almost exclusively Optare during the late 90's, with an Optare Vecta midibus from the 71, 3, 4 or 5 fleet being the daily vehicle allocation for many years. These little buses proved ideal for the tight estate at Westwoodside and were just big enough for the passenger loadings.
The 424 service was a hugely popular and profitable route for the business right until the last day of operation in 2005, it is noted how many passengers truly miss those red and yellow buses in the Ardsley and Thorpe area, the fond memories and comments rolling in when we visit the route with our preserved Black Prince buses!.
The timetable shown below is an example of when we have reunited one of our preserved Black Prince buses with the community of the 424 route for a day, appearing at the East Ardsley community gala for the afternoon.