Black Prince rides again - in miniature

City's own bus firm is revived for collectors By Geoff Fox GONE but not forgotten. Leeds's last independent bus company is about to take one final ride...in die-cast miniature.

And Black Prince's final journey is a return to Hong Kong where model specialists Britbus are producing 1,008 models of the famous Number 88 Bradford bus.

The unique tribute was the brainchild of Mel Grosberg who runs Mel's Collectables which trades in old and new bus miniatures.

He contacted Don Craggs, the managing director of Britbus, who agreed to run off a limited number of the buses after hearing of the Black Prince's demise earlier this year. Black Prince ran its last route last month.

But collectors – of which there are reckoned to be thousands in the UK alone – will be able to get their hands on the Scania 113R in Black Prince's familiar blue and cream livery in four weeks.

"I spoke to Don and told him about Black Prince and said he ought to do a bus in their colours," said Mel, 53.

"He came back about three months later and said he was thinking about doing it. I'm very proud, it's good to think that something I've been involved in from the start is now coming to fruition."

Dad-of-two Mel, a lifelong bus collector, set up Mel's Collectables three years ago. Operating out of his home in Colton, he sells model buses via the internet to enthusiasts from around the world, with certain models changing hands for hundreds of pounds.

He told the YEP: "For me personally this is a nice thing. I've had quite a few ex-Black Prince drivers ordering them and there's a Black Prince club that is ordering some as well.

"I wasn't shocked by the demise of Black Prince but I think it's very sad as it was the last independent we had in Leeds."

He went on to reveal his decision behind choosing the 88 route from Leeds to Bradford.

"It's less than five minutes from my home to where that bus passed," he said. "I have been on it to Bradford and then back again just to have a ride on it quite a few times."

The prototype is currently in Hong Kong with the 1/76th scale models set to go on sale in four weeks with a limited edition 'end of an era' certificate.

And the idea has been given the thumbs up by retiring Black Prince founder Brian Crowther.

He said: "I think it's good that they have done this. I'm not altogether happy about the company finishing, but at my time of life and with some of the new legislation and insurance costs I had no choice."

For more go to www.melscollectables.com

geoff.fox@ypn.co.uk