Farewell to the prince of buses

MORLEY has lost one of its best-loved businessmen after the death of Brian Crowther, former owner of Black Prince Buses, who died on Saturday.

His widow, Sheila, yesterday paid tribute to her husband of 37 years by saying he was a ‘hard-working man, grumpy but well-liked and well-respected in the bus industry, a good father and a brilliant husband’.

Mr Crowther, 66, was the owner of Black Prince Buses, the independent company he founded in 1969, until 2005 when he sold it to First Bus.

Born in 1941 in Morley Hall, he lived in Drighlington, moving to Morley when he was around 12.

He worked for British Rail for 14 years – as an engine cleaner when he left school in 1956 to being a station inspector in Leeds.

In the late 60s he bought his first bus. It cost just 30, and he renovated it and took it to rallies.

In 1969 Mr Crowther started his own coach business and met his wife Sheila. They were married in 1970 and their son David was born the following year.

Mrs Crowther worked alongside her husband right up until their retirement, and never resented the long hours he devoted to business.

She said: “He looked forward to going to work seven days a week.”

Their daughter, Katie Ramsay, 34, said: “Deregulation came about in 1986 and my dad and brother built up the business from there.

“Dad cared about the buses and the passengers and tried to run the best vehicles he could and I think people really respected him for that.

“If they were a driver short he would go in to drive or be a conductor.

“Since the weekend, a lot of drivers have been in touch to say it was the best company they every worked for.

“A lot of places we went on holiday were chosen for the transport – we went to Hong Kong because they had a type of bus you couldn’t see anywhere else.

“We are very sad but my mum particularly feels they had a great life together and a good lifestyle.”

Katie added that her parents had enjoyed retirement, travelling a lot and buying a caravan in East Yorkshire, but this year Mr Crowther’s health had deteriorated and he was taken to Leeds General Infirmary where he died.

His funeral will be held at Cottingley Crematorium on Thursday. There will be family flowers only but donations will be collected for the cardiology unit at Leeds General Infirmary.

Mr Crowther leaves Sheila, children David and Katie, daughter-in-law Julie, son-in-law Alex Ramsay and two granddaughters, David and Julie’s children Niamh, five, and Natasha, three.