West Riding 733 (EHL 344)

West Riding Automobile Company EHL 344 is affectionately known as “Ethel” and has been the mainstay of the West Riding Omnibus Preservation Society (WROPS) collection since she entered preservation and attended her first preservation outing on the East Coast run in 1972. Numbered 733, she formed part of a batch of 12 Leyland Tiger PS2/12A buses registration numbers EHL 337 – 348 that were bodied by Charles H Roe of Crossgates Leeds. Built to a solid design with “dual purpose” interior seating meant that “Ethel” was often found hard at work on local services throughout the week, whilst at weekends she was used on excursions and coastal services, West Riding taking full advantage of her comfortable and well appointed interior.

Delivered in 1952, she spent the majority of her working life at the Featherstone and Castleford depots before finally moving to Selby depot where she was used as a spare tow bus. If you look closely at the rear of her you will see that she still has a removable towing panel, and should the need arise she can still be used to assist other vehicles in distress. Ethel escaped the withdrawal process of her stable mates and subsequently was offered to the West Riding Wulfrunian Preservation Society by the West Riding Automobile Company and the rest is history. One of her sister buses was also fortunate enough to enter preservation but sadly after a few years was scrapped in the Doncaster area.

West Riding also operated a small batch of Leyland Tiger PS2/13A coaches also delivered in 1952 with registration numbers EHL 331 – 336. More luxuriously appointed and with reversed cream and green livery they seated only 35 passengers, four less than Ethel. Fortunately two of these vehicles survive although are not part of the WROPS collection. One is active in the Midlands whilst the other is in the final stages of restoration at a location in West Yorkshire. Both batches were the last brand new half cab single deck bus and coach vehicles purchased by West Riding.

During her time in preservation 733 has required only a minimal amount of restoration. She received a repaint prior to her first outing on the East Coast run and could usually be seen safely tucked away in the West Riding Depot next to the old Wakefield Bus Station whilst maintenance was carried out on her. The engine and running units have been serviced and Ethel received a second repaint during her active years with WROPS. She has been used extensively on the rally circuit and for many years was the sole vehicle used on the Bus Station to Ravensthorpe free service on Museum open days.

2012 saw Ethel celebrate her Diamond Jubilee and in recognition she received a spruce up to some of her bodywork, some rewiring and a complimentary interior deep clean kindly provided by Calderclean of Mirfield. She was also presented with a birthday cake in her own image.

She is arguably the most original vehicle in our collection having never been subject to any major strip down or major rebuild and this is testament to both the original construction and the ongoing loving care of her by members current and past. She often spends a full day in service at various events throughout Yorkshire and delivers a faultless performance that is testament to the ongoing maintenance she has received under the safe custodianship of Colin Poole.

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