It was with a sense of nostalgia that I travelled back to what I suppose was my career launchpad, the place where I started my journey in the Bus industry. I talk of my return to the hallowed ground of Harrogate nestling in the beauty of the Yorkshire moors, and one time home of the mighty West Yorkshire Road Car Omnibus Company. It was here that it all kicked off when I presented myself suitably suited and booted to the grand head office to be greeted by the kindly Training Manager Mrs Kate Liversedge, and as I recall her stunningly attractive secretary, whose name I believe was Linda.
Funny thinking back to those heady days just how fate and destiny would conspire to allow me to do some amazing things with some great people. Looking back I suppose that I am someone who has lived through all the trials, twists and tribulations that the UK Bus industry has been through since 1983 when I started my career as a Senior Management Trainee of the National Bus Company. When I did my training there was only the mighty NBC and Local Authority owned bus Companies, that was it, none of the plethora of small, medium, and large bus Companies that you see today. Indeed it is strangely ironic that as I celebrate what will be my 137 th year in the bus industry, or so it seems (actually 35) at the same time that Labour leader Mr. Corbyn is advocating the re-nationalisation of the bus industry. So in a strange turn of fate I have witnessed the demise of the national bus Company, became by default one of the early founders of what would become first group. Which in turn would grow to become one of the world’s biggest transport groups, and again ironically a major customer of uTrack.
However, more importantly my return to Harrogate also saw me reunited with what is the modern day version of West Yorkshire Road Car, although these days its name chronicles its past as well as its future. Blazefield was the name that the Company adopted after Alan Stevenson and a team of senior managers brought out the WYRRC Bus Company in 1986 when they were privatised, in a strange twist of fate they had asked me when I was a trainee if I would be interested in being part of the process. I of course said yes please but NBC would not let me, which was a shame as I liked the guys Alan Stevenson was very astute as was Stuart Wilde and Mike Mullins. We all used to play 5 a side football on a Friday night after work where a few pints always followed.
So, when Giles Fearnley and Stuart Wilde brought the Company out from Alan Stephenson and really stamped their style and vision on the business with different business units reflecting the communities that they serve. Local brands and smart liveries were the oder of the day, If you had to select one brand that typified the quality of the whole Company then it has to be the 38 a really good, well branded, high quality operation that I used to use every day when I commuted from Killinghall into the office in Harrogate. So, as I visited the bus station that had not changed much at all from the days when I was a young trainee it was really good to see such an excellent and slick bus network. Alex Hornby the CEO along with his team Vitto and Andy amongst many others have done a brilliant job. My thoughts on leaving Harrogate were simple, a great bus Company with a noble heritage were in very safe and innovative hands, a young forward thinking senior management team with an enigmatic leader with Alex at the tiller was only going in one direction, onwards and upwards.