and Joint Omnibus Committee
Todmorden lies in the heart of the Pennines and until 1888 the county
boundary between Lancashire and Yorkshire ran through the town, bisecting the
Town Hall. The town is reached via the Calder Valley, which provides the only
low-level access between the two counties.
Horse buses were operated in Todmorden by the Todmorden and District
Company in the late 1890's, using a number of double- and single-deck
three-horse omnibuses garaged at the Golden Lion Yard.
Although the 1902
Todmorden Corporation Tramways Order authorised the construction of tramways,
they were, in the event, not built, ostensibly because of the cost, which was
prohibitive for the small town. Private backers failed to come forward and so
the Corporation purchased four motorbuses and on 1st January 1907
commenced operations in the area, using a livery of olive green and cream, which
remained unaltered throughout the life of the undertaking. The first buses were
4 open-top double-deck buses (one was later modified by having the top section
removed to make a single-deck vehicle), a mixture of Critchley-Norris and
Leyland manufacture. They were joined later in the year by a similar bodied
Ryknield. As was common amongst early motorbus operators, bodies and chassis
were often interchanged, and Todmorden was no exception. It was common practice
to separate body from chassis during maintenance and not uncommon for body to be
reunited with a different chassis on completion. This seems to have happened at
Todmorden on at least one occasion when Nos. 10 and 11, Leyland G's of 1919,
'exchanged' chassis sometime before 1921. The re-use of expired registration
marks was also not uncommon and the registration number AP2015
was used on three different chassis between 1906 and 1928.
The three initial services ran from the Town Hall to Cornholme; Hebden
Bridge; and to the 'Waggon and Horses' between Walsden and Summit. These were
all former Todmorden and District Carriage Company routes and it seems that the
Corporation merely replaced the horse buses with its own motorbuses, with no
compensatory payments taking place.
In 1908 a new depot was built at Millwood and later extended. It was still in
use when the undertaking was absorbed into the Calderdale JOC in 1971.
The three original routes were not added to until 1923, when two routes
serving Burnley were introduced. One travelled via Cornholme and Portsmouth, where a low bridge precluded the use of highbridge
double-deckers, and the other travelled via Bacup, which necessitated a
climb over the Pennines from 500 to 1300 feet and then a descent of a further
700 feet into Bacup town centre. In 1925 the Hebden Bridge service was extended to Oxenhope
(which was further extended in 1927 to serve Keighley) and in 1926 a route to
Lumbutts was inaugurated. The final route was introduced in 1928 when a joint
limited-stop service into Rochdale with Rochdale
Corporation, operating daily in peak
hours only, commenced. By 1943, however, this service was reduced to Saturdays
only. Although allocated route number 20 by Rochdale Corporation, Todmorden
vehicles had no facility for displaying the number, even though it was shown on
bus stop signs in the Todmorden area.
In 1929 negotiations with the LMS Railway Company, who had gained powers to
operate motorbuses under the 1928 Transport Act, took place. Rather than engage
in needless competition against the Railway Company (which the small town could
ill afford) the Council decided to agree to the formation of a Joint Omnibus
Committee with each party holding 50% of the equity. And so on the 1st
January 1931 the Todmorden JOC came into existence. The Railway Company
purchased half of the fleet and the LMS Railway Company crest began to appear on
the JOC buses, beside that of Todmorden Corporation, with the words 'Todmorden
Joint Omnibus Committee' encircling them both. Until 1947 each party owned half
of the fleet, but, from 1947, individual buses were nominally owned by one or
other of the partners.
From the early 1920's the Todmorden fleet had standardised on Leyland
vehicles and these became the standard vehicles under the JOC, no other makes
being purchased up until the absorption of the Todmorden undertaking into the
Calderdale JOC in 1971. Lowbridge vehicles were the norm because of low headroom
under the garage roof, although the low bridge at Portsmouth was also a factor
in earlier years. A peculiarity of the Todmorden JOC fleet was the use of
'X' prefixes for vehicles nearing withdrawal, intended to denote 'spare'
vehicles, although in some instances these 'spare' vehicles lasted up to ten
years after receiving the prefix.
In 1947 Todmorden purchased the very first production Leyland Titan PD2/1
(No.11[FWT183]). By the early fifties the Todmorden undertaking was carrying in
excess of 10 million passengers annually and was running over 1¼ million miles.
From this peak, passenger numbers slowly declined and, by the end of the sixties,
Todmorden was carrying less than 5 million passengers annually on mileage of
just over 800,000 miles. In the interim period, cuts in services and fares
revisions maintained viability. 1961 saw the first one-man operated vehicle
enter service and others followed, but the closure of many of the local coal
mines seriously affected loadings on the Bacup service and, although
negotiations for a subsidy were held with Bacup Council, the service was
abandoned in March 1966. In 1967 dual purpose vehicles were added to the fleet
in an attempt to cash in on the private hire trade, which was still a good
source of income when the undertaking was merged with Halifax JOC.
The LMS interest in Todmorden JOC passed to British Railways on
nationalisation in 1947 and subsequently to the National Bus Company in 1969.
The NBC interest in the JOC was finally sold to West Yorkshire PTE in 1974.
On the 29th July 1971 the Calderdale Joint Omnibus Committee was
set up and the merger of the JOC fleets was finally completed on 6th
September 1971, at which date Todmorden JOC became an integral part of the
Calderdale JOC. Its vehicles were duly repainted in the agreed new Calderdale
JOC livery of green and orange (identical to that of Halifax
the former Todmorden JOC routes were absorbed. The new legal lettering
proclaiming the owners as Calderdale JOC. The Todmorden fleet at this date
consisted of 7 double- and 20 single-deckers, some of which were immediately
withdrawn without being operated, thus ending some 64 years of Todmorden
involvement in motorbus transport.
In producing this history
reference has been made to the following sources;
Halifax Corporation and Joint Omnibus Committee and
their Successors (David Bentley/Autobus Review Publications 1998), Todmorden
Joint Omnibus Committee by MA Sutcliffe (Buses Illustrated No. 65, August 1960);
Fleet History PB23 (1989); Developments in Calderdale: Todmorden and
Halifax Committees Merge (John Ryburn, Buses No. 199; October 1971).
1907-1971 | Bus Fleet List 1907-1971 |