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First a few images. Hover your mouse over each thumbnail to read the subject matter.

On July 1, 1995, the last 'W. H. Jolly' bus travelled the highways of Sunderland and South Hylton. The small & independent bus company had reached the end of its journey of over 70 years. The company, founded by William H. (Henry) Jolly in 1922 or 1923, had been faced with increasing competition. The final straw was, however, the announcement that the Tyne & Wear Metro rail network would extend its rail service thru to South Hylton, presumably resulting in a bus service no longer being viable. 1995 proved to be, for the tiny bus company, truly the end of the road.

William Jolly was unemployed when, in or about 1922, he purchased his first bus, a second hand 1918 Ford Bus, registration No. DC 2344. He came to his new career in a roundabout way. He served in 1914/18 in transport during WW1, though it may be that such 'transport' was horsedrawn rather than motorised for during the war he became an accomplished horseman. He returned from the war & worked in an office job at Doxford Engines. But his job there did not last long & he was laid off after three years. For a short time he worked at the Labour Exchange but was paid off from there also.

He had been unemployed for a number of months when he purchased his first vehicle. Can anybody provide an image of that very first 'William Jolly' bus, i.e. the 1918 Ford? If so, or if you have knowledge about the 'W. H. Jolly Company', do consider contacting the webmaster with your data, for inclusion here.

That first bus was a modest bus by any standards - of just fourteen seats. The seats were however, I read, removable & the windows were slotted in so the bus could be converted into a wagon. And it was converted into a wagon, daily it would seem! It ran a passenger service during daylight hours but also served as a coal delivery vehicle during the overnight hours.


At left is an image of William H. (Henry) Jolly, (1896/1952), the founder of the company. Ex 'Sixty Years Travelling The Jolly Way', a booklet of 18 or so pages about the company, published in the early 1980s I believe, & written by Sue Jolly.

The son of a railway clerk, William met Ann Lee Swaine during his time at Doxford Engines - the couple married in 1924 & lived at Farnham Terrace in Sunderland.

William died in 1952 at the so young age of 55. Ann Lee Jolly continued to run the company business after William's death, with their two sons - Kenneth Kearsley Jolly & Matthew Lynn Jolly - both actively involved in its operations.

From what I can read, the company, which in 1986 at least, had 16 employees, is fondly remembered by the citizens of South Hylton, which citizens the company served faithfully for so many years.

Is it possible that any reader of this page can advise how the webmaster might contact Sue Jolly, the author of the booklet referred to above. It would be good to be able to provide here that booklet from cover to cover. I read that the booklet has been republished by the South Hylton Local History Society, in 2009 perhaps. The webmaster can be contacted here. I earlier asked the same question re 'A. L. Purvis' who provided, for that booklet, a list of all the buses ever owned by 'W. H. Jolly' & what happened to them. A most interesting list indeed. Thanks to Alan Coulson, I can now advise that A. L. Purvis passed away long ago - in the early 1990s. Hopefully soon, I'll add that list into this page.

The company was noted for the distinctive livery of its vehicles - cream with a brown stripe - and for the rear seats in its vehicles, which were of varnished wooden slats. I read that the rear seats were like that because the school kids would slash any normal upholstery.

I would like to be able to next show a large, quality image of a 'Jolly' bus - an image which shows well the company's cream & brown livery. Certainly such images are WWW available. But for copyright reasons it would seem that I cannot show such images here in their full beauty. You however can see many such images via this & the following page, & particularly can view one especially fine image here.

The image (thumbnail at right) is of especial interest since it shows one of the two buses later sold to 'Minsterley Motors', of Minsterley, Shrewsbury, Shropshire. It is this bus, BGR 684W, or perhaps its sister bus, BGR 683W, which has been saved from destruction by Mr. Darren Parker-Dix, of Houghton, as you can read lower on this page.

I did, for a while, leave an empty box next, to remind the webmaster each time he views this page that a quality colour image of a 'Jolly' bus is sought.


But have now filled the box with a fine black & white image of a 'Jolly' bus. The image used to appear on 'Sunderland in Pictures' on Facebook (alas long gone!) thanks to Ray Hutcheon who originally provided it. At the old ABC Picture house, Ray advises. The bus is a 1961 Bedford SB1 41 seat coach, acquired by 'Jolly' in 1964 & sold in 1968. Cliff Lofthouse has been in touch (thanks Cliff!) to advise that the bus driver in the image below is none other than Cliff's father - Cliff Lofthouse Senior.

Cliff advises me that the South Hylton Medical Centre is today where the W. H. Jolly garage used to be. Cliff Lofthouse Senior, Cliff's father, was a long-term employee at the firm & was both a coach driver & a mechanic. In the image at right below he is receiving a clock from Ken Jolly (looking at camera) at Cliff's retirement party - the lady at right is, we believe Ken's wife Nolda Jolly. Cliff is in the middle in the image at left with Arthur Swaine to his left. A larger version of the image below is available with a click of your mouse.

Kev Nesbitt, I think, tells us in a guestbook message that the gentleman at left in the first image above is his uncle Reg Wilkinson. But I am not 100% sure about that.

But we have jumped ahead of the history!

I read that during the General Strike of 1926, 'Jolly' took turns with the other local operators (Laybourn, Chilton and Brown) to deliver coal. In Dec. 1956, Jolly took over the business of 'Laybourn', one of its competitors.

The BBC used to tell us (no longer!) about the company in 1986 as follows:- 'South Hylton is linked to the centre of Sunderland by a privately owned bus service. The service was founded by Mr. W. H. Jolly in 1923 and is now being run by Mrs A. L. Jolly, his widow, and his two sons Mr K. K. and Mr. M. L. Jolly. Running originally half way to the town the service was extended to the town centre when the rail link ended in 1964. The Jolly Bus is garaged in South Hylton and employs 16 people. The people of the village rely on the service. Buses begin running at 06.50 and the last bus leaves town at 23.20. Buses run at 15 min. intervals except between 09.00 and 14.15 when they run every 20 mins. Three buses are used to operate the service, each carrying about 1,000 passengers a day. The local Transport Executive were refused permission to take over the route.'

The South Hylton Local History Society (at a site now closed, I see) advises that the early 'Jolly' buses ran from the Railway Station (in Hylton I presume, at Claxheugh Road perhaps?), to the cemetery gates in Hylton Road, then the licence was extended & buses travelled as far as The Plaza in Pallion Road. It wasn’t until 1964 that the first 'Jolly' bus ran into the centre of Sunderland as the direct train service between South Hylton & Sunderland ceased on May 4, 1964.

Next are some Bell Punch Co. Ltd., 'W. H. Jolly's Motors' bus tickets. I cannot advise re their approximate dating. Are they unused? Would there not be a punch hole in each ticket had it been used? An image of other 'Jolly' bus tickets can be seen here.

And some more 'W. H. Jolly' of Hylton bus tickets, these printed by 'Glasgow Numerical Printing Co.' Again of unknown date. An e-Bay item in Feb. 2019, sold for GBP 2.25. Described as 'Pre-Decimal'. A larger image of the fronts of the tickets can be seen here.

Such tickets occasionally are offered for sale via e-Bay. Some are available here in Oct. 2020.

A pair of 'Jolly' images thanks to the kindness of Keith Roebuck. Who tells me that buses KTY23/24X had been new in Sep. 1981. And that his images likely date from Easter Weekend in 1982.

The first of two pages with many fine images of 'Jolly' buses - here. Now maybe a single page!

Wikipedia advises that after the company closed, its buses were sold to other companies. It is believed that KTY 23X was sold to 'Emsworth & District Motor Services', of Emsworth, Hampshire, before being donated to Asia Bus Response, as a response to the Tsunami Disaster of Dec. 26, 2004. BGR 683W and BGR 684W were sold to 'Minsterley Motors', of Minsterley, Shrewsbury, Shropshire, and BGR 864W operated until at least 2006 as a school bus, when it was cited with safety issues operating as a School Bus for Mary Webb School in Pontesbury near Shrewsbury.

It is gratifying, however, to read that in 2009, Mr. Darren Parker-Dix acquired the last remaining 'Jolly' bus in England - just in time since it was headed for the scrap yard just 4 weeks later. The vehicle was then owned by 'Minsterley Motors'. Darren is restoring the vehicle, to original condition, at Houghton, near Sunderland. You can read a little about the matter thanks to a 'Sunderland Echo' May 21, 2009 article (no longer available but you can see it here). The article does not indicate which particular bus Darren had acquired, but it seems likely to have been either BGR 683W or BGR 684W, both of which buses were originally purchased by 'Jolly' back in 1953.

I have seen, via e-Bay in Aug. 2020, W. Jolly bus tickets offered for sale - that is W. Jolly of the village of Norton located to the east of Bury St. Edmunds, Suffolk. One of three listings. Do these relate in any way to OUR Jolly? Do drop me a line if you know.

Images 1, 2, 3, 4. An expired e-Bay item.

Can you add to the limited knowledge I have about the 'W. H. Jolly Company'? If so do be in touch with the webmaster with your data or images.

May I suggest that you navigate the site via the index on page 001. PRIOR PAGE / NEXT PAGE

To Thomas M. M. Hemy Data Page 41. All of the other Thomas Hemy pages, including image pages, are accessible though the index on Thomas Hemy page 05. £

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