Chassis - Guy Wulfrunian FDW 75191
Body - Charles H Roe of Leeds GO5694
Power - Gardner 6LX with Guy mid mounted 4 speed semi automatic gearbox
COPYRIGHT: Basil Hancock
Top: 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!
Above: 970 in her present condition - the bodywork is complete (inside and out) and we are now working on the mechanical and electrical stuff. We're getting there!
The Wulfrunian Story
Her former owner, Basil Hancock, wrote an article for the Buses Annual 1987, in which he tells the story of the Wulfrunian, and lists all 137 examples built. Click this button to download it, but please be patient - it is a 2.4Mb file.
COPYRIGHT: R F Mack
COPYRIGHT: R F Mack
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.
She was withdrawn in August 1969 and fortunately escaped the fate of most of her stable mates that were sent for scrap at 7 years old.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 She can claim to be the last Wulfrunian in revenue earning service prior to being withdrawn and stored in 1978.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 20 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.
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.
COPYRIGHT: R F Mack
Click on this image to see more photographs of WHL970
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: In the first (red) livery
Above: In the second (red) livery
Below: In the third (green) livery
Below right: In service in the mid-1960
Photograph by Mark Allatt Photography