The Yelloway Project - in the beginning....
dream in April 2004 re-awoke an interest in Yelloway for us.
As children in the 1970's our family, like many others,
didn't own a car so to get around we relied on public transport. Day to
day local journeys were on the service buses of the Hyndburn, Blackburn
or Rossendale Transport fleets but several times a year we would visit
our grandparents in Suffolk and this would mean a 10 hour long distance
trip by coach - not just any coach but one operated by the famous
Rochdale based company of Yelloway. And so began a childhood fascination
for us in transport, both railways and buses.
As the years rolled by, interest in Yelloway waned as
first the family got a car (so the coach trips became fewer) and then
college and employment changed our lives. Before we knew it Yelloway was
no more and the memories would remain just that, memories. Then came
The actual detail of the dream has been lost in time but
probably involved stumbling across a yard full of abandoned Yelloway
vehicles and the crazy idea of jumping in one and driving off! A
subsequent conversation between us made reference to this dream and
before long one of us asked 'What if we could find a Yelloway - would
you be up for attempting a restoration?' Surely we wouldn't be able to locate any surviving vehicles from
the much missed Yelloway fleet - after all it was now 16
years after this once prominent company disappeared. More
importantly, if there were any survivors would we be able to find
one in a sound enough condition that we could purchase and restore
The research began with, frankly, not much hope.
First port of call was
the excellent Yelloway web site
(created by Dave Haddock the then owner of the Yelloway mobile
museum) which gave us some promise as there were at least some
vehicles known to
still be extant, although we found out that many had gone straight for
scrap when the company, then owned by Carlton PSV, ceased operating in
A note was posted on the AEC
Society notice board requesting
information on the whereabouts of ex- YMS coaches and two replies
were received – one from the membership secretary (himself an ardent
YMS fan) giving a list of possible survivors / last known owners
and the other giving us a name and contact details of an owner of several ex YMS vehicles included on the list.
Result! – our first fears had proved un-founded! It turned out
that a Mr Roberts of Stockport had 3 coaches – CDK 171L, HVU 243N
and WDK 563T – the latter certainly being the most desirable on the
list. Contact was made but 563T was definitely not for sale,
however to our surprise, he informed us that he had another ex YMS
vehicle which did not appear on the list we had been given. This was CDK
172L, sister to CDK 171L, and was complete and a runner.
Before we realised it our pursuit of a
restoration project had really gathered momentum. After being convinced of our genuine enthusiasm and ability
to carry out a proper restoration (Stephen having worked in
the bus industry for 20 years) an
appointment was made for a viewing to take place. Mr Roberts did
stress that 172L was also not for sale but would entertain
our enquires as it was obvious we weren't time wasters.
the evening of May 16th 2004 and Stephen set off
along with a mechanic colleague from work to a small yard
near the Trafford Centre, Manchester where 172L was
stored. It was a gloriously sunny evening and there sat
between two trucks was CDK 172L with Mr Roberts in the driving seat.
After the expected introductions and exchange of anecdotes
172L was started up and drawn forward and the serious
business of the inspection began.
Stephen's specialist area is in coach building and repair
thus necessitating the requirement to bring along a mechanic
to inspect the coach's engine and running gear. 172L was in
remarkably good condition for a vehicle over 31 years old
and retained the majority of its original fittings including
its split boot doors and even the Plaxton interior clock. It had
six reasonable tyres, new exhaust, had allegedly had some attention to
its steering, started 'on the button' and after a check underneath,
was thankfully not dropping any oil. Fantastic! This was an opportunity
too good to miss and so negotiations began.