This Leyland PLSC1 bus, registration number RA 6211, was purchased
by Watts Bros. of Wirksworth in 1928 and the photograph
shows a very proud Mr. Watts standing beside his new acquisition.
In February 1928 Wirksworth UDC discussed and approved
a timetable submitted by Watts for a new bus service between
Matlock and Wirksworth.
Their bus would have been a familiar site in Matlock Bath
as it was used on the Matlock to Wirksworth route.
Watts had three vehicles in their fleet - a Ford, a Fiat
and a Leyland -
and the three had been somewhat colourfully named Adam Bede,
Dinah Morris and Seth Bede.
The bus here was Seth Bede but the Fiat, Dinah Morris, would
also have been seen in the Matlocks. There were times when
Watts would have had to use two buses on the route as there
were services from both Wirksworth and Matlock at 8 p.m.,
for example (see timetable below),
as well as throughout Sunday evenings. It must have been
quite an experience going up and down Cromford Hill in a
bus in those days, especially in frost and snow!
Like other small local companies, Watts Bros. was acquired
by North Western in April 1932. They had renewed their Wirksworth
to Matlock service (via Steeple Grange, Cromford and Matlock
Bath) only two months before.
Seth Bede must have been a fairly reliable vehicle as North
Western took it into stock and used it for three more years,
though it would probably have been used on other routes after
the takeover. However, in 1935 the Leyland was converted
into a North Western lorry and sold on in 1947.
The Watts family had begun a service that was continued
by North Western for many years.
S. H. Slack of Middleton-by-Wirksworth was another company
running a service to Matlock after the tram had closed. They
were amongst a fairly large number of people who had applied
to Matlock UDC for vehicle licenses in 1928; although no further
details are know about their application it was considered
on 30 May 1928.
In late 1929 The Trent Motor Traction Company notified
Matlock Council of their intention to run a through bus service
from Derby to Buxton, in conjunction with North Western, that
would pass through the Matlocks. The necessary permission was
granted, so the
number of bus companies with routes through Matlock Bath had
|Single ticket printed
for S. H. Slack, Middleton
|Two single fare tickets for
Watts of Wirksworth.
Their (undated) timetable, below, shows that a 4½d
would have taken you from Steeple Grange to Matlock
The rivalry between the various bus companies continued and in
the late Spring of 1929 two complaints about "pirates" on
the local bus routes were heard by the Matlocks Urban
District Council. The first was from Hands Garages of Matlock
who complained that the Alfreton Motor Transport Company were
frequently pirating their Cromford bus, causing them serious
financial loss. The second was by E. Williams and Co. (Spa
Motor Services) of Matlock Bath who complained that Watts were
picking up passengers on the Cromford route. Alfreton Motor
Transport Co responded that the problem only occurred when
Hands and Williams ran their buses late. It is not known if
Watts made any comment. One Councillor, Mr. Cross, remarked
that the Council had been discussing bus troubles for ten years!
They got round the issue by deciding that all the companies
must submit new time tables in time for the Council's next
Highways Committee meeting.
Two years later Hands applied for the renewal of their services
to Elton, Clay Cross, Tansley, Hackney, Oaker, Middleton, Cromford
and Matlock Bank. Unfortunately for Hands, the Middleton
route application was opposed by both Mr. S. H. Slack, of Middleton,
and the North Western Road Car Company. Mr. A. R. Flint, who
was acting for Mr. Slack, announced that a vicar and a headmaster
had recommended the applicants' driver for a licence and had
then recommended Mr. Slack. The Hands licence renewal on
their Middleton route was refused and a decision on their other
routes was deferred.
Hardly a satisfactory outcome for Hands, although they were
not acquired by North Western until 1933.
Williams Spa Services, who had provided a temporary service
on the new Matlock Bank to Cromford route following the tramway's
closure in 1927, was taken over by North Western in March 1932,
the year before Hands. They had five vehicles in their
fleet, which had all been bought from other companies: one
was purchased in May 1926, another in May 1930, a third in
June 1930 and and two in 1931.
Samples of their tickets and one of their timetables are shown