In 1931 Mrs. A. C. Norfolk applied to the Traffic Commissioners to operate a bus service between Stocksfield and Newcastle, but withdrew her application at the hearing, only to re-submit a new application for a service between Kilnpit Hill and Newcastle, via Scales Cross, Apperley Dene, New Ridley, Stocksfield, Prudhoe, Crawcrook and Blaydon.
The revised application was subsequently approved, with a restriction applying a premium on all fares in the section of the route between Branch End and Newcastle, which was already covered by other operators.
On December 19th 1931, the service commenced, using a second-hand Leyland Lion (No.1: TY4952) purchased from Jermy of Felton, and which operated in its former owners livery of blue and white, later adopted by Norfolk’s.
Up until this time, the Norfolk’s interest in bus operations had been as members of various associations.
On July 7th 1926, Mr. Norfolk, as a member of the Private Owners Association of Blaydon, had operated on the Association’s route from Hexham to Newcastle, with a second-hand Chevrolet, purchased from Mason of Gateshead.
The Association later became the Blaydon & District Omnibus Proprietors Association and in 1929 became a Company.
Mr. Norfolk chose not to join the Company and, instead, formed the Tyne and Allen Company, with five other operators, who ran on a route between Allendale Town and Newcastle.
After four months, however, the service was abandoned due to severe competition and it was some time later before the Norfolk’s were in a position to continue with their plans.
A Leyland Leveret (TE919) had followed the purchase of the Chevrolet and it seems that this vehicle worked both the original Hexham to Newcastle, and then the Allendale Town to Newcastle routes, but had been sold on before the 1931 application for the Kilnpit Hill to Newcastle service had been approved.
A second Leyland Lion (No.2: UP2908) was purchased in 1931. This time it was an LT1 model with 24-seat Leyland coach body, purchased second-hand from Charlton of Hebburn.
With the onset of World War II in 1939, fuel became restricted, causing a number of service cutbacks to be made.
The route was shortened to Apperley Dene, effectively cutting off the inhabitants of Kilnpit Hill and Scales Cross, and the frequency of journeys on the remaining section was reduced.
By this time the fleet numbered five vehicles, but two were impressed for the duration of the War by the War Department, which was, in some way, compensated for by the award of contracts to convey miners to Mickley Colliery and to transport prisoners of war for the Forestry Commission.
Wartime acquisitions were restricted to a single Bedford OWB (No.7: JTN534) purchased second-hand from Hall Bros. of South Shields.
Following the cessation of hostilities, peacetime traffic began to increase and the Northumberland countryside, in particular, became a favourite destination for the Tyneside inhabitants.
Private hire work also increased and Norfolk’s found it necessary to increase the fleet to cope with the added demand.
During 1945 and 1946, five Leyland Lion LT5A’s were purchased second-hand from the sizeable fleet operated by Central SMT (and the associated Lanarkshire Traction fleet). This brought the fleet to its maximum strength of ten vehicles.
The stage service was re-introduced to Kilnpit Hill, although later withdrawn again because of declining passenger traffic.
In 1949 the last vehicle purchased by Norfolk’s arrived. It was a Dennis Lancet III with Duple C33F bodywork (No.15: DNL832) and, along with two similar vehicles purchased in the previous two years (Nos. 13 and 14), gave sterling service until 1964.
In 1957, Norfolks’ applied to have the fare premium restriction between Branch End and Newcastle removed. Despite objections by United and Venture Transport, the application was granted.
The ticket system used was the Bell Punch Company’s Bellgraphic system, although other systems had been in use earlier, including the Bell Punch system itself.
In 1964, the Norfolk’s decided to sell the business to the United Automobile Company, mainly due to declining health, the last day of operation being 30th June 1964.
By this time the fleet had been reduced to just three vehicles, the Company not seeking to renew contract services during the latter years. All these vehicles (Nos. 13-15) passed to Graham Bros. for use on their Derwent Reservoir contract.
On the 1st July 1964, United vehicles commenced operation on service 1C (the former Norfolk route), and Norfolk’s Motor Service of New Ridley, Northumberland, passed into history after 33 years.
In producing this history reference has been made to the following source;
Norfolk’s of New Ridley (RF Spresser, Buses Illustrated No. 118, January 1965).