West Yorkshire Road Car Company

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Reg no:KWU 361
Fleet no:DBW5

The West Yorkshire Road Car Company Ltd (WYRCC) was a major bus operator covering North and West Yorkshire. The company was generally referred to as West Yorkshire. It originated in 1906, providing bus and coach services until the privatisation of the National Bus Company in the late 1980s resulted in the company being split into smaller companies and the West Yorkshire name disappearing. It had main depots at Harrogate (also the Head Office), Bradford, Keighley, Leeds and York, together with a number of sub-depots. The company ran longer distance bus services throughout West Yorkshire, based at Leeds, with routes extending to Hull and Scarborough on the coast. In co-operation with York City Council it ran local bus services in the City of York itself.

A brief history[edit]

West Yorkshire[edit]

The Harrogate Road Car Company formed in 1906 running firstly steam buses in Harrogate, then petrol buses which were introduced in 1911. In 1924 the company was absorbed into the jointly-owned Tilling and British Automobile Traction (TBAT) group, and its name changed to Harrogate and District Road Car Company. With the company's expansion during the following years, its name was changed to West Yorkshire Road Car Company in 1927, to reflect its wider geographical spread.

In the 1930s joint arrangements with Keighley Corporation and York City Council resulted in the formation of Keighley-West Yorkshire and York-West Yorkshire (see below).

In 1948, along with other companies that were then part of the Tilling group, West Yorkshire Road Car Co was nationalised.

In 1967 it acquired the Samuel Ledgard bus company - a significant local independent operator.

In 1968 West Yorkshire Road Car Co became part of the National Bus Company, until privatisation in 1987.

On 3 May 1970, services that had been operated by Hebble Motor Services out of their Park Lane depot, were taken over by the West Yorkshire. The Hebble personnel from this takeover were also offered positions with the West Yorkshire in Bradford.

When West Yorkshire Road Car Co returned to private ownership in 1987 it was split into smaller companies: Harrogate & District, Keighley & District and Yorkshire Coastliner. These companies continued under common ownership until 1991 when they were acquired by the Blazefield Group (now part of Transdev UK plc).[1]

Keighley-West Yorkshire[edit]

In 1930 negotiations between Keighley Corporation and West Yorkshire Road Car Co led to a joint company being formed called Keighley-West Yorkshire Services Ltd. This new company absorbed all the local services in and around Keighley, but West Yorkshire Road Car Co kept its longer distance routes.

The 1974 Local Government reorganisation led to Keighley Corporation's interest in the joint company passing to West Yorkshire Road Car Co, with 'Keighley' disappearing as part of the fleet name on local buses for the first time.[2]

York-West Yorkshire[edit]

In 1932 a joint venture with York City Council was formed, called York-West Yorkshire Joint Committee. When the National Bus Company was formed in 1968 it was operating three services in York: National Bus, West Yorkshire Road Car Co (rural areas, Leeds and the East coast), and the York-West Yorkshire joint service.

In 1980, 1981 and 1985 Transport Acts were introduced to gradually deregulate the bus companies. The joint service with York and the City Council could no longer operate and York City Council's interest was sold to West Yorkshire.[3]

Fleet numbering[edit]

Up to 1954, fleet identification was purely numerical. In April 1954 the fleet was renumbered using type identification letters in addition to sequence numbering.[4]

The first letter denoted the body type: D (double decker), S (single decker), E (express, or dual purpose), C (coach)

The second letter generally denoted engine type: B (Bristol), G (Gardner), A, (AEC or Albion), F (Ford), P (Petrol)

The third letter (if present) was L (30 ft (9.1 m) long) or W (8 ft (2.4 m) wide)

So, for example, Bristol KSW6B reg no. KWU 361 was given a fleet number of DBW5.

In addition to the rules above, Keighley- and York-West Yorkshire bus fleet numbers were prefixed with K or Y as appropriate so, for example, Keighley-West Yorkshire Bristol K6B reg no. GWX 125 was given a fleet number of KDB30.

Over the years, several exceptions to these rules evolved, including DX (Double deck eXperimental), used to denote Bristol Lodekka buses, SUG/EUG/CUG (Single-decker/Express/Coach Underfloor-engined Gardner), SMA/SMG (Single-decker Mid-engined Albion/Gardner), SRG (Single-decker Rear-engined Gardner), VR (Vertical Rear-engined - Bristol VR type)

In October 1971 the fleet was again renumbered and the class identification letters disappeared as the fleet identifiers once again reverted to purely numerical system.


WYRCC has had a number of operating depots during its existence. In April 1958 vehicles were fitted with small coloured discs next to their fleet number to identify their main depot.[4] Sub-depots inherited the colour of their parent depot, however Keighley- and York-West Yorkshire vehicles were not fitted with the discs as they were already identifiable by the K- or Y prefix. The depots and colour codes were as follows:


  1. ^ Harrogate & District website. Harrogate & District, a brief history.[1] Retrieved 29 January 2007.
  2. ^ Keighley and District website. Keighley and District - a brief history. [2] Retrieved 30 November 2006.
  3. ^ First York website. History/Fleet List. [3] Retrieved 29 January 2007.
  4. ^ a b Jenkinson K.A (1987). Northern Rose - The history of West Yorkshire Road Car Co Ltd. Bradford: Autobus review Publications Ltd. ISBN 0-907834-13-2

External links[edit]