Blue Line (Samuel Morgan Ltd.) 1922-1980

In 1922, Richard Wilson began operating a service between the mining village of Armthorpe and Doncaster, using an 8-seater Ford. Owing to poor road conditions on the direct route, the initial route ran via Edenthorpe.

By 1924, Wilson had been joined by a number of other operators on the Armthorpe to Doncaster service, who between them were eventually running a ten-minute frequency. In January 1927 they were joined by Doncaster Corporation.

Although some of the early vehicles carried names such as ‘Blue Canoe’ and ‘Blue Bird’ on their sides the Blue Line fleetname does not seem to have appeared until 1927, when the first double-deck in the fleet carried it.

The blue livery, however, was in use from the very first vehicle, but fleet numbers were never used. The early ticket system was Bell Punch, although this was replaced by the Willebrew system, which remained in use until March 1979.

TIM machines were used from the late 1950’s on certain routes that were one-man operated.

Early vehicles, all purchased new, included a 20-seat Fiat in 1924, followed by a Chevrolet, Vandyke, Reo and a 14-seater Federal Knight, which bore the name ‘Blue Bird’.

In 1926 a 26-seat Reo Pullman was given the name ‘Blue Canoe’, and in 1927 a six-wheeled Guy BX, a former Guy demonstrator was purchased, the first vehicle to wear the Blue Line fleetname. Guy vehicles were to form a large part of the fleet in later years.

Blue Line acquired Samuel Morgan Ltd., of Stainforth, who was trading as Gwen Motors, in 1930. Samuel Morgan, who had started in 1921, with a service to Doncaster from Stainforth, had, by this time, a number of other routes, including a Doncaster to Goole service.

Following the purchase of this business the Company traded as Blue Line (Samuel Morgan Ltd.). In 1933 the business of William Lowe of Stainforth was also acquired, just a single Bedford vehicle passing to Blue Line.

An attempt was made to take over the business of another local operator, Albert Braim, in 1939, but was unsuccessful and his Doncaster to Armthorpe service was eventually divided between Blue Line, Felix Motors (of Hatfield) and Doncaster Corporation.

Another major acquisition occurred on April 1st 1949 with the business of R. Store Ltd., who was trading as Reliance.

At the time the fleet was liveried in an unusual combination of emerald green with a dark blue band, but as vehicles became due for a repaint this gradually disappeared and the vehicles appeared in the same livery as Blue Line vehicles.

The purchase brought with it additional routes from Doncaster to Dunscroft, Doncaster to Goole and a Saturday only service from Kirkhouse Green to Doncaster.

The Reliance depot and facilities at Church Road, Stainforth were retained and the company became a subsidiary of Blue Line, continuing to operate under the Reliance fleetname until Blue Line was acquired by South Yorkshire PTE in 1979.

At the same time the business of W. Cauldwell, a local builder and joiner was also purchased. Cauldwell had carried out repairs to vehicles in the past and the new business was registered as Wilson Cauldwell, the workshops being used for the repair and maintenance of Blue Line and Reliance vehicles.

In 1953 the stage carriage services of Majestic Motors were purchased, along with two Sentinel STC4’s, although Majestic Motors continued with its coaching operations for a few more years.

The routes involved were from Stainforth to Goole (which was jointly operated with Blue Line and Reliance), and from Moorends and Thorne to Hatfield Colliery.

Thorne Colliery closed in 1956, a victim of flooding, and the local miners had to be transported to other collieries in the Doncaster area.

Blue Line and Reliance were among the independent operators to benefit from this, providing vehicles on contract round-the-clock. 1956 was also the year that the first 30ft long double-decker arrived.

SWU876 was a Guy Arab IV with Meadows 6DC engine (eventually replaced by the more conventional Gardner 6LW engine) and Burlingham H41/32R bodywork, and had been exhibited at the 1956 Commercial Motor Show.

For the next few years double-deck orders were for this type of vehicle, the last half-cab double-deck bus being ordered for delivery in 1967, although in 1968 two Leyland PD3A/1’s were purchased second-hand from Kippax and District Motors.

At this date Blue Line and Reliance were operating the following daily services,

Blue Line

Doncaster (Christ Church) to Goole (North Street), via Kirk Sandall, Barnby Dun, Stainforth, Thorne, Moorends and Rawcliffe.
(Jointly with Reliance).Dunscroft to Moorends.
(Jointly with Reliance).
Doncaster (Christ Church) to Armthorpe.
(Jointly with Felix Motors and Doncaster Corporation).
Doncaster (Christ Church) to Dunscroft (Ingram Road) via Kirk Sandall, Barnby Dun and Stainforth.
(Jointly with Reliance, T. Severn & Sons and Doncaster Corporation).


Doncaster (Christ Church) to Goole (North Street), via Kirk Sandall, Barnby Dun, Stainforth, Thorne, Moorends and Rawcliffe.
(Jointly with Blue Line).
Dunscroft to Moorends.
(Jointly with Blue Line).
Doncaster (Christ Church) to Dunscroft (Ingram Road) via Kirk Sandall, Barnby Dun and Stainforth.
(Jointly with Blue Line, T. Severn & Sons and Doncaster Corporation).

In addition there was a joint Blue Line/Reliance Saturday only service from Doncaster (Christ Church) to Kirkhouse Green and a Sunday morning service from Hatfield to Doncaster, via Stainforth (a special church service), which Reliance ran jointly with Felix Motors, T. Severn & Sons and Premier Coaches.

Blue Line and Reliance also operated a large number of contract, works (especially colliery services) and school journeys.

Sadly Richard Wilson died in November 1973, his brother John becoming Blue Line’s Managing Director, with John’s son, Tony, managing Reliance. John died in September 1978 and Tony assumed responsibility for the management of both firms.

In March 1979, however, Tony made the decision to sell the business to South Yorkshire PTE, although all vehicles remained licensed to Blue Line and Reliance until August 1980, when both companies officially ceased to trade.

In producing this history reference has been made to the following sources;
‘Blue Line of Armthorpe’ by Michael Fowler and Tony Peart (Buses No. 292, July 1979); PSV Circle Fleet History PB29 (1993), PB4 (1967).

Bus Fleet List 1921-1980 | Reliance: Bus Fleet List 1921-1980 |