Hulley's of Baslow - a potted history

...famous local company

A brief history of Hulley's of Baslow by David Harrison, a local bus driver for over 35 years

Henry Hulley started a taxi business in Baslow in 1914, but the first bus into the Hulleys fleet was a Model T Ford with solid tyres and central driving position, which entered service in 1921. The body was built by Woodiwiss, a Bakewell joiner.

A 14 seat bus body was fitted to one of the Darracq taxis at about the same time, and a Monday, Thursday and Saturday service between Bakewell and Chesterfield via Baslow was started which still operates today as service 170.
A house and garage were built on Calver Road in early 1922 to house the now expanding fleet.

By the mid 1920’s the Bakewell to Chesterfield route had become a daily service extended from Bakewell to Youlgreave

Stanley Eades, also of Baslow, was operating from Eyam to Baslow until  Hulleys took over the route and extended it to Tideswell.

Hulleys expanded both routes and fleet in the 1930s and ran regular summer excursions to various tourist destinations By 1934 there were 7 vehicles, all less than five years old and several brand new, and a petrol station was opened on the opposite side of Calver Road along with extra parking space.

Henry Hulley & Sons became a limited company in 1938, and in the 40 years up until 1978 over 100 vehicles were operated although only five were purchased new.

In 1939, the company took over local operator Maurice Kenyon’s service from Baslow via Calver to Grindleford Station, but the early years of the war saw a reduction in all bus services, however the Grindleford Station service saw increased use from people who commuted to Sheffield.

The war years meant a shortage of vehicles, due to War Department requisitions and with spare parts being in short supply, by the end of 1946 the ageing fleet was in need of replacement and nine more vehicles were acquired second-hand from Major operators such as Potteries Motor Traction, West Riding, Durham District and Trent, some giving many years of service with Hulleys.

The services of Sellers & Kent of Ilam were acquired in that year taking in Ilam, Thorpe, Mappleton, Ashbourne, Dovedale and Leek.

The winter of 1947 is remembered for very heavy snowfall, but Hulleys staff got stuck in and kept as many services as possible running with gangs digging out trapped buses.

 The 1948 timetable introduced route numbers for the first time

1 – Chesterfield – Bakewell - Youlgreave - Middleton (daily)
2 – Chesterfield - Baslow - Eyam - Tideswell (daily)
3 – Chesterfield – Freebirch (Saturday)
4 – Baslow – Grindleford Station (daily)
5 – Grindleford – Eyam – Bakewell (Monday)
6 – Ashbourne – Ilam via Dovedale (daily)
7 – Ilam – Waterhouses – Leek (Wednesday)
8 – Ashbourne – Blore – Leek (Thursday

In 1952, due to increasing costs and a fall in passengers, fares were increased for the first time in nearly 30 years!

Route 9 was established in 1952 when most route 4 journies were re-routed via Eyam & Stoney Middleton. Route 3 was also extended to reach Baslow. and in 1954 routes 6,7 and 8 were sold to Warringtons of Ilam.

The first one man operation vehicle was bought in the early 50s which eliminated the need for a conductor on some services and reduced operating costs.

Excursions resumed in 1954 with all the major seaside resorts and tourist destinations, the coach fleet being mainly modern Bedfords of which No9 – 402 BRB was bought new in 1956 to commemorate the death of Henry in the previous year, in this year route 6 was used again for a Summertime extension of route 1 to Hartington.

Passenger numbers were still falling, so one man, under floor engine buses were acquired, and in 1963, an unusual purchase was a batch of S type single deckers built by Midland Red, followed by Leyland Royal Tigers from Yorkshire Traction, and no fewer than ten Leyland Leopards originating with Sheffield Corporation.

In 1969, the fleet fell to just 11 vehicles, Baslow to Grindleford Station, and Freebirch to Chesterfield services, were both withdrawn as uneconomical.

However in 1971, 2 routes were withdrawn by North Western and Hulleys stepped in to operate parts of them establishing route 11 from Bakewell to Over Haddon and route 12 from Bakewell to Monsal Head.

In 1973, the raising of the school leaving age meant that by 1975 the number of buses was back up to 17 including a few maximum capacity buses acquired from East Midland, amongst others.

Thomas Hulley died in 1971 and the surviving Hulleys, Nina, John (Jack) and Benjamin were all were close to retiring age and they decided to sell (Ben still had his first driving licence issued in 1931). By 1976 there was various interest in the business but no firm offers, although Chesterfield Corporation was a favourite having added Hulleys’ destinations to there single-deck fleet.

During this period, a number of vehicles were hired on a regular basis from Chesterfield and, to a lesser degree, East Midland, leading to further speculation.

So it came as quite a surprise when the Woolliscroft family, owners of Silver Service at Darley Dale took over in 1978. Hulleys was now a wholly owned subsidiary of J H Woolliscroft & Sons Ltd. The land that was once a petrol station and latterly a parking ground for the expanded fleet, was sold separately as a housing development.

In that same year a batch of Bristol Lodekka double decks were bought from Western S.M.T. to cater for the ever increasing school population.

1979 brought about the purchase of several fairly youthful (for Hulleys) rear-engined Leyland Panther single deckers from Merseyside, bringing the fleet into the modern age. These were followed by lightweight Fords from Midland Red, which were not well liked by the drivers.

The new company kept to the same operation as Hulleys, making only minor changes to the routes that were already operated, with the addition of route 14 Bakewell to Rowsley via Chatsworth. Then in 1980 all routes were renumbered into the 170 series in line with Derbyshire County Council policy and 170 became Chesterfield – Bakewell – Matlock jointly operated by Hulleys and Silver Service which incorporated the Wooliscroft route from Bakewell via Stanton-in-Peak, Birchover, Elton, Winster & Wensley to Matlock.

A number of experiments took place incorporating routes to Dronfield, Castleton and Ladybower reservoir and diverting Sunday 170 journeys via Chatsworth House, but by 1982 the fleet had deteriorated to such a degree that several vehicles were again borrowed from other operators and a public hearing was called at which the operating license was reduced to 8 vehicles, to be operated under the Silver Service name, and over the next few years improvements were quickly made with the purchase of a dozen of the popular Bristol RE model from Potteries, East Midland, and Burnley & Pendle Transport.

After just ten years, the Hulleys name was returned when Woolliscrofts decided to sell on the Baslow operation to concentrate on Tours and Express working. The company was bought by Arthur Cotterill, Silver Service transport manager and Peter Eades, whose grandfather’s business had been absorbed in the 1920s, and who had been a Hulleys mechanic and driver for 40 years.

The following few years were used to re-establish a very well respected business, the use of the Hulleys fleet name a sign of the faith they had in the old company.

The livery had been by then standardised on the Silver Service Blue livery, Hulleys’ traditional red and cream livery having been consigned to history.

The acquisition of several Leyland National Mark 2s from Nottingham’s South Notts subsidiary brought about the modification of the bus livery to standardise on Navy blue and cream which is now worn by all the local service fleet. These were replaced by Leyland Lynx mainly from the same source.
An increase in fleet size to 19, and a move towards vehicles available for private hire as well as the stage carriage work operated for so long, saw Hulleys once again become one of the Peak District’s major operators.

In the mid 90’s, a small holiday and summer excursion programme was set up with regular travellers coming back year after year.

In 1998, the first brand new vehicle since 1956, a Dennis Javelin coach was acquired, and since then the fleet has been brought up to date with 1 or 2 new vehicles most years since 2005, making Hulleys one of the more modern fleets in the area, putting some of the larger fleets to shame.

In late 2000, Arthur decided to retire. He stayed on until June 2001 to allow Richard Eades, Peter’s son, to get used to his new role of Transport Manager.

The business now operates a fleet of 19 modern vehicles. The main business remains stage carriage, as established in 1920, with private hire, schools contracts and a summer day excursion programme making up the rest of the work.

Although the company has come a long way since the early years of the twentieth century, it carries on the traditions and standards that have been associated with Hulleys for such a long time.

Last Updated: 28 Apr 2015