The Leyland Lion was first built in January 1926 and rapidly became the most popular
bus both for town and country operations, having a 4-cylinder 5.1 litre petrol engine
that produced 62bhp @ 1800 rpm. The standardised Leyland bodywork was available with
either forward or rear entrance for bus or coach use, based upon a common body frame.
In 1929 the first of many progressive improvements was made, each being accompanied
by a change in the type designation.
Following the general introduction of the diesel engine from 1932 onwards, a choice
of petrol or 4-cylinder diesel was offered in the Lion chassis from 1934. Production
continued until 1940.
Rawtenstall purchased Leyland buses almost exclusively from 1923 to 1973. The tramway
replacement fleet of 1930-32 included 3 LT3 Lions numbered 60 - 62, each costing
£1309. These entered service early in December 1931, just 4 months before the last
trams ran in the district. The Rawtenstall routes include many severe gradients on
the Accrington and Burnley services and up the sides of the Rossendale valley to
reach the post First World War housing estates. The Lions were therefore fitted with
the 6.5 to 1 differential for power rather than high speed.
Most of the 1930/31 Rawtenstall single deckers were replaced at the beginning of
the Second World War, but two (48 & 61) were retained and converted to emergency
ambulances. In 1945,61 was converted back to a bus and fitted with a new 6-cylinder
8.6 litre 93bhp diesel engine to match the standard power pack in the remainder of
the largely double-deck fleet. In 1947 it became the
"School Bus"; its road tax as a bus ceased in December 1950. Thereafter it was used
as a mobile illuminated display, tow bus and snowplough - for which a purpose built
plough was made.
It fell out of use after the bad winter of 1963. It was sold for preservation in
March 1965 and driven to Leeds. Since July 1965 it has always been under covered,
dry storage within the West Riding. Restoration commenced in 1987. The body has been
lifted off the chassis which was stripped, blasted and painted. The total overhaul
of engine, gearbox and transmission, both axles, steering, brake mechanism and fuel
system has largely been completed with certain items outstanding. Reassembly is underway
The body bulkhead has been partially rebuilt; other reconstruction may follow once
the mechanics are completed.
Although primarily a bus operator, the West Yorkshire PTE did inherit a small number
of coaches at its formation in April 1974. These comprised three Plaxton-bodied Leyland
Leopards from Leeds City Transport, and seven Plaxton-bodied AEC Reliances from Calderdale
Joint Omnibus Committee. Very soon after its inception, the PTE expanded its coach
operations with the acquisition in May 1974 of Hanson Coach Services Ltd, the coaching
arm of the long-established Huddersfield independent operator whose stage services
had been acquired by Huddersfield Corporation in 1969.
Further expansion into coaching was to follow with the takeover of Baddeley Brothers
of Holmfirth in March 1976 and W.R.& P.Bingley of Kinsley in April 1977. The Hanson
and Baddeley fleets were returned to private ownership in April 1979 and January
1980 respectively, but the Bingley fleet survived as a separate entity until it and
the PTE fleet passed to Yorkshire Rider on deregulation in October 1986. Yorkshire
Rider continued its coaching unit and for a time supplied coaches for the National
Express network until 2000.
The PTE regularly added new coaches to its fleet, those in 1975 comprising eight
Leyland Leopards plus three Volvos for the MetroHanson fleet. All had Plaxton bodies
and included 63/64 (GWY 689/90N) which were allocated to Calderdale. These were of
the shorter PSU4B/4R variant. Early in their careers both were converted to one person
operation to allow their use on stage services when not required for coaching duties.
Initially in green and cream fleet livery, both were repainted in 1980 into the red
and ivory MetroCoach livery. They were also withdrawn together in November 1988.
64 was soon to find a new home with the Halifax-based Siddal Amateur Rugby League
Football Club, who used it for team transport in place of KCP 873G, an AEC Reliance
Plaxton coach that was one of the seven that had transferred to the PTE from the
Calderdale Joint Omnibus Committee fleet.
Siddal ARLFC is one of the country’s leading amateur rugby league clubs, being champions
of the amateur National Conference League in 2002/2003 and 2003/2004. Among their
former players is the late Shirley Crabtree, better known as the wrestler Big Daddy.
Rather than see the coach go for scrap, the club committee kindly donated it to Keighley
Bus Museum, where it arrived in February 2002.