Leeds nostalgia: End of an era for bus firm

Fifty years ago this month, a Leeds institution came to an end, after independent bus operator Samuel Ledgard closed.

Sunday, 8th October 2017, 6:00 am
END OF LINE: Samuel Ledgard beer and blue buses parked up on Kirkgate.

The firm began a revolution when it was founded by 1912 by an inn-house keeper and brewer named Samuel Ledgard, who bought his first motorised charabanc.

It was the start of an empire.

Samuel worked for his father, who was a publican with several pubs in Leeds.

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Samuel Ledgard.

When he 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 still bears

the blue plaque organised by Leeds Civic Trust, stating his achievements.

He stayed there for 55 
years of his life and 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. So he bought his own charabanc, which he called The Nelson (not after the pub but his idol, Lord 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. It went to France and although its driver came back, it was never seen again. The firm expanded quickly, taking over a number of local firms, using land behind The Nelson to store vehicles - when the firm finally closed in 1967 they had 112.

Samuel Ledgard.

Samuel died in 1952 aged 77, leaving son Tom to run the firm until it closed in 1967.