One hundred years ago a revolution began in Yorkshire.
In 1912, an inn-house keeper and brewer named Samuel Ledgard bought his first motorised charabanc.
It was the start of an empire that would make his name synonymous with transport across the north.
Today, (Oct 13) to mark the centenary, there will be an event at Pudsey Civic Hall, with pictures, memorabilia and even some cine film.
Organiser and founder of The Samuel Ledgard Society, former transport general manager Barry Rennison spoke to Times Past about the exhibition.
The 67-year-old, who worked for Samuel Ledgard for about six months at the firm’s Otley depot, said: “They were a good family firm, strict but fair and people have fond memories of them.
“It was 100 years ago when Samuel Ledgard bought his first motorised charabanc and it really changed the fortunes of his company.
“Before that he had worked for his father, who was a publican with several pubs in Leeds.
“When Samuel was 21 – because in those days before you could be a licensee you had to be 21 and married – he bought The Nelson on Armley Road, which today is an Indian restaurant. He stayed there for 55 years of his life.
“He was a real entrepreneur. He turned the pub into a hotel and offered people accommodation and meals, which developed into outside catering, tent hire and haulage. In order to provide food for his catering business, he even set up a small farm so he could grow his own vegetables.
“From there he began to do more haulage but one thing he noticed at the time was a lot of hauliers would take the backs off their lorries on a weekend and fit seats and take people on trips to the coast and so on.
“So he bought his own charabanc, which he called The Nelson. There’s an interesting story behind that, as it turns out.”
The Nelson charabanc was not, in fact, named after the inn Samuel had been bought by his father all those years ago but was so named in recognition of his idol, a man he looked up to and was inspired by – Admiral Lord Nelson.
Mr Rennison continued: “It was only by chance that the pub he worked and lived in was called The Nelson. It was another quirk of fate that during the First World War, when the Ministry of Transport were requisitioning vehicles, they came to see Samuel and asked for The Nelson charabanc and Samuel let them have it, he even provided his most loyal employee to drive it, a man by the name of Benny Clough, who worked for the firm right into the 1960s.
“The Nelson charabanc went to France and although its driver came back, it was never seen again.”
Mr Rennison is a former general manager of Independent Coachways, Horsforth, who retired a couple of years ago. He set up the Samuel Ledgard Society several years ago and it now has over 300 members and produces a quarterly magazine with stories about the firm.
He added: “He had a lot of land behind the Nelson pub and the hangers where he used to keep his buses, he made sure the roof was so strong that he could park buses under it and on top of it.
“The firm expanded quickly, he took over a lot of local firms, when the firm finally closed in 1967 they had 112 vehicles. He really shook things up in Yorkshire, he took on the big boys, such as the West Yorkshire Road Car company and Leeds City Transport. There was a running joke between him and the West Yorkshire Road Car company that their managing director said he would one day take over Samuel Ledgard, whereas Samuel joked back, “Nah, I’ll tek over thee.”
Samuel died in 1952 aged 77, leaving son Tom to run the firm until it closed in 1967. During its run, the firm bought over 400 vehicles, taking Leeds folk far afield and giving them access to a hitherto unaccessible style of life.
The event at Pudsey Civic Hall will be from 10am-3pm, entry is free and there will be a chance to catch a ride in a bus made up with Samuel Ledgard livery.