LITTLE BUS COMPANY
1960 Guy Wulfrunian - Roe body - West Riding
Guy Motors, Wolverhampton and the Wulfrunian
Sydney Guy commenced manufacture of car and commercial vehicle chassis at Fallings Park, Wolverhampton in 1914. The company's reputation as a manufacturer of a rugged bus chassis was established by its selection to build its Arab chassis for wartime utility buses and the Arab remained in production in various forms until the late 1960's. However the company's financial situation had deteriorated by 1960 and it was sold to Jaguar Cars of Coventry, which also owned Daimler. It later became part of the vast "British Leyland" organisation and the Fallings Park factory closed in 1982.
The origins of the name of Wolverhampton are attributed to a settlement founded in the year 985 AD by the Lady Wulfrun and the inhabitants of the City are known as Wulfrunians.
Guy Motors launched its Wulfrunian in 1959 with the words: "We registered the type name "Wulfrunian" some time ago, and have been keeping it up our sleeves until we had a very special type of vehicle, which we thought would do every credit to the Lady Wulfrun".
Guy's Wulfrunian double-deck bus was conceived in 1957 as an alternative to the high capacity rear-engined chassis being developed by Leyland (Atlantean) and Daimler (Fleetline). Much of the impetus for the design came from independent operator West Riding Automobile Co. of Wakefield, which was to become the main user of the type.
The Wulfrunian prototype, unveiled in 1959, was certainly "very special" and was regarded by the industry as being revolutionary. The heavy Gardner 6LX engine was mounted on the front platform, close to the driver, rather than remotely at the rear, which had been a problem with the early Atlanteans. However revolutionary features did not stop there. Air suspension, independent at the front, and disc brakes were also fitted, which, although “state of the art” today, were virtually untried technology, certainly on buses, in 1959. The Wulfrunian was certainly special, although perhaps not the abject failure which it is now considered by many to have been. Many of its design features were adopted in later buses from other manufacturers. Few Wulfrunians lasted for ten years and West Riding’s last were withdrawn by 1972.
A prototype (West Riding 863 - OHL 863) and two demonstrators (7800 DA & 8072 DA) were built in 1959 and 1960 with Roe bodies and differed in many respects from the production example modelled in the kit. While there were detail differences, these three buses had a more upright front and the front bay of the body forward of the front wheels was parallel, whereas on production Roe-bodied Wulfrunians it tapered inwards towards the front. Also the cab door was fitted further forward, both of which need structural alterations to the kit. The two demonstrators were later purchased by West Riding for spares.
West Riding Production Buses
The majority of Wulfrunians were bodied by Charles H. Roe of Leeds with 43/32 seat bodies for West Riding, which purchased 125 buses, together with a further two for associated company County Motors. This is the version modelled in the kit. This body was to a Park Royal design and had some affinities in respect of the rear dome and window depth to the early Bridgemaster body. A notable feature was that the staircase was mounted on the nearside over the front wheel.
The other seven Wulfrunians
Bury Corporation purchased one Wulfrunian (101 - LEN 101) in 1960 with a Roe body similar to the West Riding buses, but with many detail differences. East Lancs bodied two front entrance buses in 1961 for West Wales of Ammanford (42 - XBX 350) and Wolverhampton Corporation (70 - 4070 JW) and Northern Counties bodied one in 1961 (58 - 802 RTC) for Lancashire United. The Lancashire United and West Wales buses were later sold to West Riding as 938 and 959 respectively.
A further two Wulfrunians for Accrington Corporation (156/157 – 35/36 VTF), received rear open platform bodies by East Lancs and a second example bodied by East Lancs for Wolverhampton (71 – 4071 JW) had a forward entrance behind the front axle. Uniquely it also had drum brakes instead of discs.
The definitive source of information on the Wulfrunian is “Guy Motors and the Wulfrunian” by Robin Hannay, published by The Transport Publishing Company in 1978.
The history of the Wulfrunian is also well recounted in an article “Ahead of its Time” by Basil Hancock in Buses Annual 1987. “80 Years of Guy Motors” by Robin Hannay and Stuart Broatch – Venture Publications 1994, also recounts the history of the Wulfrunian.
Other good sources of Wulfrunian references and photographs are:
· “Guy Buses in Camera” by Jasper Pettie – Ian Allan 1979.
· “Charles H. Roe” by Geoff Lumb – Ian Allan 1999.
· “Super Prestige – West Riding Vol 1” by David W Allen – Venture Publications 2004.
· “The Heyday of the Bus – Yorkshire” by Geoff Lumb – Ian Allan 1996, has a superb colour image of County Motors’ two Wulfrunians together on their last day of service in 1963 before sale to West Riding.
· “Half Cab Twilight” by Stewart J Brown – Capital Transport 2001.
· “West Riding The Red Buses” by Stuart Goldthorpe – Dewsbury Bus Museum 2009.
· Classic Bus Issue 63 (2003) includes a "Road Test" of the Wulfrunian, the (Leyland) Guy Victory and the Volvo Alisa and has some good interior and exterior photographs of the preserved ex County Motors UCX 275.
· To celebrate the "Beast's" 50th Birthday, all the British Bus Journals produced articles on the Wulfrunian, Classic Bus 104 and 105, Buses December 2009 and Bus & Coach Preservation February 2010.
· The Huddersfield Passenger Transport Group's website has a section devoted to photographs of Wulfrunians.
Two Wulfrunians survive in preservation. Ex County Motors 99 (UCX 275) usually resides at the Black Country Living Museum in Dudley, restored as West Riding 995, and West Riding 970 (WHL 970) is under restoration at the Dewsbury Bus Museum. In addition the chassis of Bury 101 also still exists on a private site.
I must give a particular thank you to Basil Hancock, of Faulconbridge, NSW, Australia, for his help in compiling these notes.
Historical Note - The West Riding Automobile Company Ltd.
The origins of "West Riding" lie in the Wakefield & District Light Railway Company, which commenced tramway operation in 1904 on a route between Wakefield and Leeds, plus branches. In 1905 this became the Yorkshire (West Riding) Electric Tramways Company, which also built a tramway linking Normanton, Castleford and Pontefract.
The West Riding Electric Tramways Company commenced bus operation in 1922 and in 1923 the West Riding Automobile Company was formed as a subsidiary of the Tramways Company to operate these buses. In 1935, with the replacement of trams by buses, the subsidiary company was wound up and the Tramways Company assumed the name of the West Riding Automobile Co. A particular feature was that, after replacement of the trams by buses, the buses were painted red on the former tram routes and green on the former "automobile" routes. This practice continued until the mid 1960's and thus the Wulfrunians were delivered in both red and green liveries, although by the end they were all green.
West Riding Automobile Co. managed to avoid railway shareholding and the major BET and Tilling groups, and, following a merger with its major rival, Bullock & Sons (B & S Motors) of Featherstone in 1950, rose to become the largest of Britain's independent operators, with over 400 buses. Its operating area was bounded, approximately, by Huddersfield, Barnsley, Doncaster, Selby, Leeds and Bradford, with headquarters at Wakefield. However it was sold to the state owned Transport Holding Company on 30 October 1967. Under National Bus Company ownership, management of West Riding was merged with that of former BET Company Yorkshire (Woollen District) of Dewsbury, although the two fleets retained their separate identities. Headquarters remained at Wakefield.
Sold to their management team, "Caldaire Holdings", in 1987, West Riding and Yorkshire Woollen eventually formed the basis of Arriva Yorkshire.
Historical Note - County Motors (Lepton) Ltd.
In 1919 A & B Farrar commenced operation of a bus service between Huddersfield and Lepton, trading as County Motors. This company was sold in 1927 into the joint ownership of BET Companies, Barnsley & District Traction (later to become Yorkshire Traction) and Yorkshire (Woollen District) Electric Traction Co. of Dewsbury and of independent West Riding Automobile Co. This joint ownership ensured the separate existence of County Motors until 1968. Purchase of double deck buses followed West Riding practice and two Guy Wulfrunians were bought in 1962. However these proved to be troublesome and were sold to West Riding in May 1963, being replaced in the County fleet by Roe bodied Leyland PD3s of a similar style to that used by Huddersfield Corporation for trolleybus replacement. The sale of West Riding to the state owned Transport Holding Company in 1967, followed by the sale to the THC of the BET Group in the following year, removed the rationale for County Motors' separate existence and it was wound up and its services transferred to Yorkshire Traction in October 1968.
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