970 outside Dewsbury station 2.jpg

Click on this image to see more photographs of WHL970

WHL970 in her present condition after a long and full restoration

Technical details:

Chassis - Guy Wulfrunian FDW 75191

Body - Charles H Roe of Leeds GO5694

Power - Gardner 6LX with Guy mid mounted 4 speed semi automatic gearbox

West Riding Automobile Company were the pioneers in delivering a vehicle of outstanding passenger comfort and were instrumental in the development of the Guy Wulfrunian in the late 1950’s, WHL 970 and its stable mates being the product of a revolutionary design that allowed passengers to enter and leave the vehicle at the front of the bus whilst the bus retained a front engine. The design also featured a low floor to enable the vehicles to pass under the many low railway bridges in the area, air suspension to deliver a smooth comfortable ride and disc brakes. Whilst other manufacturers pinned hopes on a solution where the engine was mounted at the rear (such as the Atlantean and Fleetline) Guy Motors and West Riding favoured a more traditional front engine solution.

TP6543

COPYRIGHT: Basil Hancock

Thus in 1959, the first Wulfrunian OHL 863 entered service in Wakefield, closely followed by many batches of Wulfrunian buses painted in both traditional green & cream livery and red & cream livery for operation on the Kettlethorpe-Wakefield-Leeds and Wakefield-Ossett former tram route services. 137 Wulfrunians were built; 126 of them being new to West Riding. Four second hand examples were also operated in service and the two Guy demonstrators were bought for spares only.

 

West Riding 970 was delivered new in September 1963 being one of 25 buses with registration numbers WHL 960–984. She gave only six years of service with West Riding and being originally destined for work on the former tram routes her interior was appointed in the red moquette rather than the normal green standard.

Above: On her way north, near Junction 16 of the M1 on 27th June 1982.  She appears to be in better condition than the tow-truck!

She was withdrawn in August 1969 and fortunately escaped the fate of most of her stable mates that were sent for scrap at 7 years old. Passing through a succession of owners including J Moffat of Fife, McLennan of Spitalfield, Rennie of Dunfermline and eventually via Paul Sykes of Barnsley to her final operator in London, Crouch End Luxury Coaches owned by Eric Rayner. She can claim to be the last Wulfrunian in revenue earning service prior to being withdrawn and stored in 1978. She was acquired by Basil Hancock for preservation and was initially stored elsewhere before eventually taking up residence at Ravensthorpe over 30 years ago.

 

During the last ten years a thorough restoration has been completed under the custodianship of Colin Poole with support from the late Stuart Goldthorpe. The interior refurbishment was completed first followed by chassis cleaning and a full overhaul of the air pipework. The outstanding panel work and glazing was completed in early 2015 and 970 is now sporting her original red and cream livery once more having been rubbed down to bare metal before her repaint.  

COPYRIGHT: R F Mack

TP6553

COPYRIGHT: R F Mack

Above: In the first (red) livery

COPYRIGHT: R F Mack

TP6552

COPYRIGHT: R F Mack

Above:  In the second (red) livery

Below: In the third (green) livery

TP6551

COPYRIGHT: R F Mack

Below right: In service in the mid-1960

WHL 970 in service mid 1960's

COPYRIGHT: R F Mack

West Riding 970 (WHL 970)

The brake overhaul, including specialist refurbishment of the callipers was undertaken during the winter of 2017/2018 and in 2020 her engine and gearbox received specialist attention from our resident mechanic, Bill Oldroyd.

 

The story of the Wulfrunian and its advanced design is well documented. Some would argue its revolutionary features made it prone to regular mechanical failures and eventually early withdrawal from the West Riding fleet. For many of those who travelled on them in local service around the Wakefield district, they hold fond memories of an advanced and very different vehicle that gave a comfortable ride, a futuristic style and something out of the ordinary that warrants the care being lavished on the final two serviceable examples that survive. Unfortunately, Stuart passed before completion of the project but his memory will live on with 970 back in full working order.