Tanat Valley Coaches & Motors The Garage, Llanrhaeadr-Ym-Mochnant,
Nr Oswestry, Shropshire, SY10 0AD

HISTORY 1930 - 1950

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Garage Services

Garage in Kerry, near Newtown.

Located in Kerry, near Newtown, we offer MOT testing for classes 4, 5L & 7; servicing and repairs on retail, trade and commercial vehicles. Our high vaulted garage enables us to MOT motor homes and carry out inspections and repairs on large vehicles.

A History of Tanat Valley Coaches & Motors - a family business.

The 1930’s and the bourgeoning public transport industry started to get organized with legislation pouring in on the competing operators. Routes had to now be licensed as did drivers and vehicles. A lorry had to remain a lorry whilst a bus was a bus so in 1930 Williams & Morris acquired their first PSV a 19 seater Chevrolet bus. The Chevrolet took on the market day service and an infant private hire trade, the lorry continued with its busy schedule in the road construction industry and the car was still in constant demand. This was a time of great energy and innovation with many similar small family transport businesses getting started. Rivalry between competing firms was nearly always on a friendly basis with each one willing to help the other out. Most villages had their Morris the bus, Hughes the bus or Jones the lorry, but now the brothers moved into a new area of operation by becoming Williams & Morris the hearse. It is often said that the Welsh like a good funeral so a 1931 Morris hearse was bought and was soon busy providing help to the local undertakers.

Great changes were also going on in other aspects of our Tanat Valley communities at this time; Liverpool realized that the one pipe delivering water from Lake Vyrnwy to the city was not enough and a second was required. This was built during the 1920s with many temporary workshops set up along the route. One such was built at Pentrefelin directly across the road from the brother’s home. A sizeable wooden and galvanized sheeted roof building which when finished with by Liverpool Corporation became the ideal base for the growing business. The bus, hearse, lorry and if necessary the car could all be stored under cover.

The Garage Pentrefelin had come into existence. Very quickly the brothers realized that the petrol so needed by the business was also required by a growing number of private motorists. The first Tanat Valley petrol station was established, when with pick and shovel, Bill and Elvin installed the first underground tanks in 1931. Other rival petrol stations soon followed at Llanrhaeadr, The Green Inn, Penybontfawr and Llangynog. Even some of the larger farms also put in underground tanks to receive their own supply of petrol. But again regulations caught up with these pioneers and the onerous restrictions, brought on by numerous explosions and fires around the UK, soon served to reduce the expansion of such enterprises. Nevertheless Pentrefelin continued as a service station, petrol being dispensed from two hand cranked pumps one inside the garage and one freestanding pump to the front. Pool and Super became the common grades stored in one 500gallon (2270ltrs) tank for the Pool and one 300 gallon (1362ltrs) tank for the Super.

>Elvin and the Chevrolet circa 1930

Elvin and the Chevrolet circa 1930

The bus continued to carry produce in both directions, now requiring a large roof rack to be fitted on one of the busses. Into this went baskets of fruit, vegetables, eggs and chickens with often fencing materials and larger hand tools on the homeward journey. The combined weight of passengers and goods often proved too much for the over worked engine, so passengers had to walk up the steeper banks.

A common practice at this time was for a farmer to buy a young calf at the market, place it in a large sack and bring it back to the bus. The sack with the struggling calf tied up inside would go through the centre rear emergency door and under the rear seats. On the return trip one pleasant summer day just such a calf had managed to get his head out of the end of the tied sack and proceeded to lick the ankles of a rather ‘posh’ lady from one of the villages. A poor hill farmer, who after a successful market and had gone on to enjoy the hospitality of one or two Oswestry pubs, was now sleeping off the effects on the seat behind. With one easy movement the dear lady included a serious scream, an educated firm rebuke and a well aimed slap. The hapless farmer never fully realized what had befallen him, but he always made sure to keep a safe distance on future journeys.

The calf in a sack delivery continued through out the war years and on one visit to a farm near Efail Rhyd, Elvin was taken by Mr. Jones the owner into his large milking parlour where his fine herd of milkers was tied in their stalls. Elvin admired the 40 strong herd and then Mr. Jones said ‘Elvin you brought all these here on your bus’.

Meanwhile the lorry business continued to flourish though the road building contracts from the counties had all but dried up. Produce from the farms and the local mills, (such as the flour from the Penybont Water Mill or timber from the Llangedwyn Mill) were required to be delivered to rail heads and often the Port of Liverpool. Earlier journeys were via the Mersey Ferry but after 1934 the new Birkenhead tunnel was opened making life a lot easier for Bill and Elvin.

The dark years of the Second World War arrived and we see the buses of the two brothers being requisitioned by the military at Park Hall for troop movements. The local services have now become an even more vital link for the communities for the rationing of petrol has set back the development of private motoring until well after the war.

A regular contract at this time was the transporting of Italian prisoners of war from their camp at Llanrhaeadr to work on the local farms. As time past these soldiers who on the whole were glad to be out the fight, got to know their guards and Elvin and so friendships began which outlasted the hostilities. Even during the darkest days of the war the joy of choral music became the bond between the local Welsh and their Italian charges.

The Saturday evening bus into Oswestry was often full of Italian prisoners off to enjoy the cinemas, pubs and dance halls, with the Guard, rifle at hand sending them off from the Park Gates in Oswestry with ’make sure your back here by eleven or we leave without you’. These return journeys were often a musical treat with beautiful harmonies arising from lusty Italian and Welsh voices. On one return from Oswestry two of the Italians who had sampled a little too much of the local brew, started to fight on the bus. As they were about a mile away from the camp the guard shouted ‘stop the bus’. The battling two were ejected and Elvin was instructed to proceed. On his return from the camp (this was located at the entrance to Llanrhaeadr village) to Pentrefelin Elvin sounded his horn to the two as they made their unsteady but now comradely way back to barracks in response he received a wave and a cheer. This was war Tanat Valley style.

Post war and life has now moved on for Bill and Elvin, both are now married with children. Bill has moved away from the family home and now has two children. Elvin also has moved out and he and his wife Annie May have a son.

The business itself moves into these years of rationing and change in a healthy condition with all types of work proving to be successful.

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