Fondly remembered by many people in the area is “Hunter’s Bus”. Hunter’s distinctive dark brown and cream buses were a familiar sight for many years as they travelled part of their route through Monkseaton Village.
H.W. Hunter operated from Westbourne Garage on Westbourne Terrace, Seaton Delaval and commenced operations in 1929 when three second hand vehicles were purchased from another Northumberland operator (Lee of Rothbury).
Their first open-back double-deckers (registration numbers DJR 681 and ETY 912) were a pair of Leyland PD2s which arrived in 1950 and 1951 and survived to provide regular service until the 1970s. During 1971, their third double-decker arrived which was a modern Leyland Atlantean, registration number WTY 841J, followed in later years by a number of other vehicles to supplement their fleet.
Interestingly, and unlike some of the other large operators in the area, Hunters buses never actively displayed any commercial advertisements on their vehicles. Their small fleet was always clean and immaculately maintained to present a highly professional image.
The main bus operator in the area for many years was United Automobile Services; however H.W. Hunter was only a small private operator who ran an intermediate service from Seaton Delaval to North Shields via Earsdon, Monkseaton, Whitley Bay and Preston Village, usually terminating at Northumberland Square. This was a route not covered by United. Part of Hunter’s bus route would occasionally overlap sections which were operated by the United service, particularly through Monkseaton into Whitley Bay, and where this happened, many regular travellers preferred to wait an extra few minutes for Hunter’s to arrive rather than travel by the red United service.
As well as running a service route, Hunter’s also had a small fleet of coaches which were available for private hire.
By 1964 the business was being run by J.K. Hunter, trading as H.W. Hunter and Sons. It changed hands in the early 1970s, becoming a limited company under the name H.W. Hunter and Sons (Seaton Delaval) Ltd.
In later years deregulation of bus services was introduced, which meant that a series of changes were made including a standardised route numbering system. As a result, Hunter’s buses, which had never previously had a service number were allocated service no. 810, and their route was extended as far as Seghill and Cramlington.
The company ceased trading on 26th July 1994, and Westbourne Garage was sold.
by Charlie Steel © 2013
His published books include ‘Monkseaton Village Vol. 1’ and ‘Monkseaton Village Vol. 2’, both of which are available from most local booksellers.