Saturday & Sunday 27/28 April 2019
This weekend, Morley saw the largest gathering of Black Prince liveried buses since the company closed in 2005, to mark the 50th anniversary of the company, when Brian & Bert chipped in one coach a piece in 1969!.
The fleet of preserved Black Prince vehicles, now owned by several private individuals headed to the spiritual home of the operator to participate in a weekend of Golden Anniversary celebration, in conjunction with the Morley Town Council & Royal Society of St George festival weekend.
Our town was buzzing as the annual festival opened on the Saturday morning with street entertainment, Punch N Judy, food & drink & fairground rides coming to life.
Black Prince was represented on Queen St, with a stall staffed by Lisa Austin & Angela McMullan, selling merchandise & the start of a two day raffle, the grand prize being a wonderful Black Prince 50th birthday cake, expertly produced & donated by Pauline Cawood & Steve Brooke.
Sadly, mother nature dealt us a difficult day, with showers & wind raging almost throughout the entire day.
The weather did not prevent huge numbers of patriotic Morleians from visiting the festival & loyal Black Prince enthusiasts from far & wide turned out in droves to sample haulage on Brian Crowther's former bus fleet.
The local community were really pleased to see those old red and yellow friends back home on the streets of Morley and many had a ride with us for old times sake!.
During the Saturday, the buses operated over the following former Black Prince routes, with one or two amendments to suit the occasion ;-
53 (Part Route) Morley Glen Estate-Morley Town Hall-Morley Railway Station
420 Morley Town Hall-Gildersome
424 Morley Shophopper Circular
X49 Morley Town Hall-Leeds
X51 Morley Tingley Mills-Leeds
David Crowther started the proceedings, at the wheel of N577EUG on the 0955 X49 service from Leeds to Morley.
Lowheight Ailsa, TRR814R began the day on the 424 Shophopper Circular, this pair of buses were swapped later in the day, 814 heading over to the X49 service.
This vehicle swap provided the perfect opportunity to place Gareth Atherton's LWB377P onto the X49 route, crewed by Richard Cleggs/Gordon Fitzgerald/Terry Osborne & running the opposite half hour to 814, providing the spectacle of a full Ailsa service between Leeds & Morley for the first time in many years!.
Returning to service in the area after an absence of some considerable time, 377 proved very popular with hordes of passengers riding to sample the unmistakable sounds of the Ailsa.
The Mercedes fleet was utilised around Morley, 202 on the 420 route with Matthew Stockwell at the wheel, 441 ran on the short 53 working between Morley railway station & the Glen estate, driven by Mark Conlon, I shared the 424 service with Terry Osborne & Adam Austin/Jack Berry/Phil Stevens as crew.
The 424 returned to its old terminus at Morley Westwoodside, where the Churwell Woodland Railway provides a wonderful attraction set in peaceful surroundings.
Our running day drew to a close with myself & Lisa Austin crewing the X51 service between Morley & Leeds for a couple of evening trips, for old times sake!.
We carried several grateful but cold & wet passengers home on these journeys, with many happy memories of Black Prince shared on the way to Morley.
The bus fleet performed superbly during the day, then parked up for the evening in the yard of a local business, to whom we are very grateful for the accomodation.
The buses were prepared & fuelled on Sunday morning, in readiness for the grand St George parade from Morley Queen St to Morley rugby ground, due to start at 1130.
202 was used at 1030, to convey dignitaries between the rugby ground & the Town Hall, before the start of the parade, with 441 being used to close Albion St, then to return the Lord Mayor & Council to the rugby club after the parade had passed.
The parade looked nothing short of spectacular, headed by St George on horseback, the Black Prince buses were formed at the tail of the parade, collecting passengers for the rugby ground along the way.
The sight & sound of so many Black Prince buses together again was truly wonderful & made us all feel very proud indeed!.
When the parade reached the rugby ground, the buses dispersed, 814 running the 53A route, 202 took to the road on the 52A & 377 started the 205 service, joined by Michael Websters fantastic Scania-Metropolitan, which he had brought all the way from Leicester to participate in our events.
Michael had made an extra special effort with his pride & joy GJF301N, adorning the bus with BLACK PRINCE letters in the top deck windows, which really was a nice surprise & most appreciated by all who saw the bus!.
The Metropolitan created a massive amount of interest, looking & sounding superb. The bus represented a type which is almost extinct, but which saw 8 examples in the Black Prince fleet, two of which were from the same batch of buses as 301, GJF277/278N.
Well Done & huge thanks to Michael for coming so far to support us.
Stephen Whiteley's Vecta, M73WYG was placed on display in the cricket ground, beside our stall, with tombola, raffle & merchandise for sale. My family staffed the stall once again & during the course of the day, raffled off the 50th anniversary cake & other goodies!.
1130 St George Parade
52A (Part Route) Morley Special Circular
53A (Part Route) Morley Tingley Mills-Millshaw
205 (Part Route) Morley-Pudsey
The Sunday service proved popular with the sun shining and the buses on fine form. The 205 was split into two schedules, every two hours a bus would travel the entire route to Pudsey.
The 53A was turned short every trip at Millshaw due to football problems at Elland Rd.
202 provided the 52A service, which was reasonably quiet until late afternoon, but it was great to see the bus providing two days of successful non stop running after an absence of two years struggling with several niggling electrical issues.
Preserved buses from other operators were kindly provided by Mark Byard, Dewsbury Bus Museum & Chris Coultas, with Metro, Halifax Corporation & West Riding all represented for the afternoon.
When the bus service had drawn to a close, the decision was made to position the buses for photographs, the rare opportunity was not to be missed, so the fleet was taken to Ken Morrisons car park & positioned with Morley town hall clock behind them.
The results are shown below, with wonderful images providing a lasting reminder of this great weekend, celebrating 50 years of Black Prince!.
Many thanks to all who were involved & contributed to our successful birthday weekend, all your help is so greatly appreciated!.