Wallace Arnold Coach Tours: Drivers to descend on Yorkshire for centenary

Former WA coach driver Jon Hartley is looking forward to sharing memories.
Former WA coach driver Jon Hartley is looking forward to sharing memories.
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A century of touring history will be celebrated as almost 200 former drivers descend on Yorkshire this weekend.

The loyal former workers of Wallace Arnold Coach Tours (WA), which was founded back in 1912, are set to look back on the company’s 100-year history at a drivers’ reunion at the Holiday Inn on Kings Road, Harrogate, until Sunday.

Organiser Jon Hartley, who worked as a driver and hotel contracts manager at the firm for more than 27 years, will relive memories with colleagues, many of whom are still mourning its loss after it was effectively lost through a company merger in 2005.

The 60-year-old, who lives in Otley, said: “It’s natural to remember the hot summer days, great customers and great hotels but you also remember the black ice, freezing fog and French customs.

“You remember the tricky times but they are far outweighed by the good times, especially with the loyal customer base we had in the north of England.”

Jon started working for WA in 1978 and was a driver for three years before working his way into management.

Now retired, Jon was one of the many drivers who travelled abroad as he lived in Lucerne, Switzerland, for a year.

Drivers from as far away as the Pyrenees will be at the group’s seventh annual reunion, which will feature two films presented by the Yorkshire Film Archive, while commemorative ties and badges have already been snapped up by former workers.

Jon said: “It shows it’s not just ourselves.

“I’m sure the customers will have memories that they treasure because we took a lot of people abroad for the first time.”

“People like to be looked after and there’s nothing better than a coach holiday.”

WA was nationally recognised and had around 300 coaches at its peak.

Its main depot was in Gelderd Road, Leeds.

It was merged in 2005 with Shearings, WA’s biggest rivals, to become WA Shearings but soon after, the name changed again to Shearings Holidays.

For more information, email Jon at: j-hartley7@sky.com