1913 bus secured for Crich collection

The 1913 Leyland “Combination Car” motorbus which operated in Barnsley will now become part of the Crich Tramway Village collection after the conclusion of a successful fundraising campaign. The bus is of a key historic significance and shows the bridge between trams and buses which many towns and cities across the UK experienced in the early part of the twentieth century.

The bus – numbered 5 – was part of Mike Sutcliffe’s collection and he kindly offered it for sale to Crich at less than half the market value as he wanted it to have a permanent home at the museum. The museum needed to find £65,000 for the acquisition and this has now been raised thanks in no small part to a £45,000 grant from The H. B. Allen Charitable Trust, which is now winding up and won’t be offering any further funding. The remainder of the funds have been raised through generous donations from both members of the TMS and the general public.

There can be no doubt that the acquisition of this bus – regardless of its connection to UK tramway history – will divide opinion amongst enthusiasts with some likely to bemoan the fact that the funding used to purchase the bus could have been better used on a tram plus the space it will take up could also have seen another tram put on display. However, the bus was one of five single deck buses purchased by Barnsley & District Electric Traction Company Ltd to test the operation of petrol motor buses as an alternative to electric trams. It is also the oldest British full-size single decker bus in existence (and possibly the oldest in the world) and is also the oldest preserved bus of those operated by British Electric Traction Group.

No. 5 was lovingly restored by Mike Sutcliffe to its original condition by Mike Sutcliffe in 2006 and it has been on loan to Crich since July 2018 when it visited for the 20th Leyland Gathering.

Speaking about the acquisition, Laura Waters, Crich Tramway Village Curator, said: “We are delighted that the bus will now be able to remain at the Museum as a permanent part of our collection. We are extremely grateful for the kind generosity and support from the H.B. Allen Charitable Trust, Tramway Museum Society Members, our visitors and all others who have supported the project and allowed us to be able to make this valuable purchase to enhance our collection.”

No. 5 – the latest acquisition at Crich – stands in the sunshine outside The Red Lion. (Photograph courtesy of Crich Tramway Village)

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11 Responses to 1913 bus secured for Crich collection

  1. John1 says:

    Will it be stuffed and mounted or will it operate occasionally? I can see how it would be decisive but it does tell part of the story and provide variety. For the same reason I have always said there should be a trolleybus resident and preferably operational. Loop at the Town end and the bandstand with double wiring down the street – very prototypical of shared operation.

  2. Nigel Pennick says:

    To operate a bus will require garage and fuelling facilities. Are we to see a recreated period example of a bus depot now to house it? Heaton Park does not have a Leyland Titan double decker to show what replaced the Manchester Route 53, so it is a bit disingenuous to claim Barnsley number 5 is a bridge between trams and buses, both of which in that period were derived ultimately from public horse-drawn road vehicles such as stage and mail coaches..

    • Paul D says:

      The MTMS does own the remains of a Manchester horse bus, and also has close links with the GMTS (Boyle St) who have provided appropriate buses for many HPT events, so can indeed show “before” and “after” the trams…

  3. Andy B says:

    It will be operated occasionally though the setts in the street aren’t brilliant with solid tyred vehicles. The bus display will be developed better in the near future to better explain the significance of the vehicle.

    • John1 says:

      Thanks Andy B, thats great to hear.

      Nigel – there was talk of buses at Heaton Park I believe but there isn’t the room and the Bus Museum is only 10 mins away!

  4. alantram says:

    If a trolleybus was to be exhibited, then Keighley no.5 of 1924 would be ideal to show how tram technology was adapted for road use. It currently rests in Keighley Bus Museum and is partially restored, though it could do with a large financial grant to achieve completion in running order.

  5. Torsten V says:

    It’s a lovely old bus in mint condition. Congratulation with the purchase.
    In Denmark we have a very original De Dion Bouton single decker bus dating from 1912, and it was original owned by the Frederiksberg tramway company in Copenhagen.
    So the Barnsley bus is not the oldest.

  6. sjc247 says:

    Several years back, there was talk of Ipswich trolleybus No.2 (Railless/Shorts – 1923) being loaned to Crich for a time. Can’t remember exactly why it didn’t happen, but it may have been due to the restoration of the interior taking longer than planned (though that has been complete for a good 5+ years now).
    Isn’t there an unrestored body of a 1915 Bradford trolleybus somewhere, that might be a suitable exhibit at Crich?

  7. Nigel Pennick says:

    A trolleybus using a skate in the rail as electrical return could operate at Crich without a second wire. But how do modern ‘health and safety’ regulations apply to a sparking skate bouncing along among the visitors. I have seen skate-in-the-rail done and the electric arcs are a sight to see.

    • Andy B says:

      Nigel, using a skate was looked at or partly discussed in the 1980’s but deemed dangerous and the idea dropped in case anyone got electrocuted. With regards to bus displays, it has been mentioned what else could be displayed alongside the Barnsley bus but let just get the paperwork sorted, money handed over and the immediate future finalised first.

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