Hulley’s Buses

March 15, 2018 | Filed under: 2018, April 2018

In 1972 a twelve year old lad pointed his new camera at a service bus as it waited on the stand at Beetwell Street in Chesterfield. He never then thought that he would be taking similar pictures for the next 45 years, and basing his interests and career on leading freelance guided tours and excursions using Hulley’s buses.

The firm was started in 1919 by Henry Hulley who over the years gained more and more service routes and more and more buses (usually running about 20 at any one time – mostly second hand and from all over the country with a wide variety of livery colours). They were well-maintained at their Riverside Garage in Baslow and their claim was that they “always got through” – like the time when some chaps were shovelling away at a snowdrift and a Hulley’s bus charged at it and got clean away. One time however, the bus was stuck in the middle of the road up Derwent and an official asked if it belonged to Hulley’s – “Yes” said the driver, waving the gearstick above his head. Derwent can be a very busy place at times – one photograph showed the queue backed up at Ashopton Viaduct on the day that it took two hours to get to the Marquis. After the amazing crowds at the 1993 Dambusters Flypast, the last people didn’t get away until midnight.

Andy now got into his stride and the anecdotes came thick and fast. Most local people will have heard about them keeping paraffin stoves in the buses on cold winters’ nights and possibly stories of mice running about in the back of a bus, but what about when they were parked up along Calver Road in Baslow with the engines running all night to prevent them freezing up.

Those were the days when buses still had conductors but passengers still used to close the side doors as they left – a Bakewell to Chesterfield return ticket cost two shillings and sixpence and they ran their buses until 10pm. On early excursions, passengers went as far as Blackpool sitting on wooden seats! On Bakewell Show days, they used to beat the traffic jams by taking to the old railway line on what is now the Monsal Trail. One trackside resident was painting his upstairs windows when the Hulley’s went past, nearly falling of his ladder in surprise. But personal service was very important – on seeing a shopping bag at a garden gate, one driver stopped at the kerbside until a flustered housewife came rushing down the garden path having left her handbag in the house.

Hulley’s once bought a second hand bus from a town in Wales called Llandeilo, and for a joke one April Fool’s Day they ran from Monyash to Bakewell with the Llandeilo destination displayed – nobody noticed. What a wealth of stories we heard that night. Thank you Andy, your dedication on this subject is unsurpassed, and everyone is welcome to join us on Thursday April 12th at 8pm in the Institute when Scott Russell will be singing and telling stories of life in the steelworks in Victorian Sheffield.
Brian Woodall