Some time ago I recalled my first ride on a Crosville minibus, an interesting experience in a remote part of Wales. It demonstrated the benefits of a well-coordinated service with a small bus regularly linking to a main route. This gave improved penetration into an area which has small communities linked by narrow lanes. That bus was fleet number MTF701 which was the second Transit minibus to enter the Crosvile fleet in 1978.
In the summer of 1976 MTF700 was Crosville’s first Ford Transit minibus. It was not used on normal Crosville stage carriage services. Crosville maintained the vehicle but it was staffed by volunteer community drivers from the villages in the Uwchaled district between Corwen and Cerrigydrudion deep inside North Wales. That project seems to have been a success given that the Transit was replaced by a newer Bedford minibus MRB702 after a few years.
I did have a very rare timetable booklet for the Uwchaled Community Bus with a photo of MTF700 on the front and a rather vague explanation of the services. The most memorable detail for me was the overriding need to abandon the usual route whenever the chiropodist was at Cerrigydrudion. Sadly, I can’t find the leaflet now and fear it may have been lost.
I don’t have a photo of MTF700 of my own. The best I can offer is a link to a photo of it parked [I think] at Crosville’s Mold depot and another at Llandudno. However, I did clap eyes on it thanks to the timetable which at least provided the destination of each day’s trip. Wednesday was Denbigh, for the market, and the minibus would be parked in the depot during its layover where it would get a once-over from the maintenance staff. In 1985 I did get a decent snap of MTF700’s successor MRB702 living up to its Community Bus branding in Denbigh market place waiting for the return trip with a healthy load of elderly ladies.
It’s clear from the picture that this little-published service must have been a great resource for that group of villages, located off the beaten track and never likely to justify the cost of a regular bus service. Nowadays there are a few registered bus services operating in the Uwchaled area and there is a report of a community car being available across what seems to me to be a huge area for essential use by people in isolated places with no transport of their own.
Whether the Uwchaled Community service survived deregulation I don’t know for sure but this sighting of MRB702 in Aberystwyth in 1987 suggests it was no longer in use around Uwchaled by that time.