“GLORIOUS runs and safe returns” was the motto scribbled joyfully across the back of Scott’s Greys coaches as they took thousands of happy holidaymakers and delighted daytrippers on carefree adventures.
It is also the title of a new book which tells the story of Darlington’s most famous bus company.
The book is a ten-year labour of love by Keith Kitching, who owns one of Scott’s Greys’ most attractive vehicles: a dinky 1952 14-seater Austin/Plaxton Venturer coach. Keith started his working life with the company in the 1960s and then spent more than ten years driving coaches.
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POSSIBLY FRED: Fred Scott was born in 1885 and, according to family records, an early job was working for Walker Wilson. There was a commercial traveller called Walker Wilson living in Darlington at the start of the 20th Century, so Fred could have worked for him, but across south Durham there was a well-known chain of grocery shops called Walter Wilson. This picture appears to show Fred Scott, fourth from left, outside Walter Wilson's shop in Northgate, Darlington, on the corner of Crown Street - now a computer and games shop
Scott’s Greys was founded by Fred Scott, who set up in business as a delivery man with a horse and cart just after the First World War. He insisted that all of his horses should be greys – and so the name stuck (the Royal Scots Greys was a cavalry regiment in the British Army).
In 1919, Fred bought a charabanc and began delivering sand from quarries, meat to butchers and people to wherever they wanted to go. In 1923, he became the first coach operator in the North-East to operate a regular service to Blackpool, which is the cornerstone of the Scott’s Greys legend. He also adopted the famous livery of French grey and Royal blue.
Fred died in 1952 and the business was taken on by Reg and Marion Hunter, who maintained the company’s reputation until passing it on to GNE Motor Services in the late 1970s, when it ran more than 200 different excursions and mystery tours.
Of course, times were changing – more people had their own cars, for example.
In 1981, the company was sold on to David Scott, who was a Sussex businessman with no connection to the founder. He turned it into a travel agent which collapsed in controversial circumstances in 1992.
The author calls it a “sad and disgraceful” end, but the strength of the books is the wealth of detail, pictures and anecdotes about this proud Darlington company from the golden age of coaching.
The A4 book contains 50,000 words and more than 270 photographs. It is available for £19.95, plus £3.50 postage, by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling 07949-408472.