West Riding 803 (JHL 983)

Technical details;

Chassis - AEC Reliance MU3RV1009
Body - Charles H Roe of Leeds GO4261 Dalesman style
Power – AEC AH470 with AEC 5 speed synchromesh gearbox

JHL 983 was one of three AEC Reliance Dalesman coaches delivered in April 1957 numbered
803–805 for use on West Riding Automobile Company express services, day excursions and private hire duties. The Dalesman style of coachwork was built by Charles H Roe of Crossgates Leeds, and 65 Dalesman coaches to this design were built.

West Riding must have been pleased with this style of coach, having already operated four others it had acquired earlier, those being HHL 875–76 and JHL 581–582. As can be seen, this style of touring coach featured a centre entrance style of bodywork that was favoured by many operators particularly Wallace Arnold of Leeds, who continued to specify this layout well into the mid 1960’s.

After only eight years of service, and with stage carriage duties also under her belt, 803 was sold on to Kirby (Dealer) and in October 1967 passed to Mrs J E Pulleine of London SE22. By March 1969 it had found its way to Pierce, Borough Green, where it trundled around Kent transporting farm workers. By 1978 the coach had found itself at the West of England Transport Collection Winkleigh, and on 11th November 1978 the West Riding Wulfrunian Preservation Society (later renamed WROPS) purchased the coach for £250. As a nod to her past life, J E Pulleine’s branding was still in situ on the rear illuminated panel when the coach was returned to Wakefield! When a sister coach came to light, many spare parts were secured and the restoration of 803 was completed by June 1982.

JHL 983 002

Given the speed, luxury and comfort of 803, this coach was extensively rallied across the UK and was a common sight at events for many years before being used by Classic Coaches of High Wycombe. Unfortunately, it became the subject of an ownership dispute when Classic Coaches fell on hard times but it was successfully repatriated to Yorkshire, finally entering the Museum building under its own power several years ago.

Whilst 803 was originally restored to a high standard, its years of use on the rally circuit, outside storage and heavy use at Classic Coaches meant further work was required to bring it back up to the standard of other vehicles in the WROPS collection. It had been a little unloved whilst work had progressed on other vehicles and a decision was taken in 2015 to make it our heritage appeal vehicle.

In 2016 work recommenced on the Dalesman and the seized clutch was attended to along with a full brake overhaul and rewire. The interior was subject to a deep clean and refresh with various items restored again, such as the interior chrome fittings. Whilst the exterior paintwork requires further attention, 803 returned to service in late 2020.

Having been stored at the rear of the Museum building for over a decade we are delighted that the Dalesman has been returned to the road. Over the next year further improvements will be made to the external appearance of the coach with a rolling repaint being undertaken whilst keeping 803 in service. It is also hoped to replace the damaged window rubber and enhance the inserts in the brightwork on the side of the vehicle as and when time permits. It is thought that only 5 Dalesman style coaches remain in preservation.

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