This gallery is to commemorate the public transport provided by Pontypridd Urban District Council, which later became Taff-Ely Borough Council.
The Council-owned electric tramway started operation in March 1905 but the main route from Cilfynydd to Treforest was converted to trolleybus operation in 1930 and the other tram route to Porth was converted to motorbus operation in 1931.
The first motorbuses were bought in 1930 and were very successful Bristol B types which mostly gave at least twenty years’ service. A pair of double-deck trolleybuses was acquired in 1932, both of which had been demonstrators. The first double-deck motorbus arrived in 1934 after which many more were bought.
The Second World War had a huge impact on operations in Pontypridd with so many key industries being located in the area. Up to the war the council had bought forty-four buses (motor and trolley), including some very short-lived vehicles. In contrast no less than thirty-one utility vehicles entered the fleet, albeit the last four trolleybuses didn’t arrive until 1946, whilst another sixteen vehicles were on loan at various periods during the war. Two further vehicles arrived with the joint purchase (with Caerphilly, Gelligaer and West Mon) of the Jones Brothers (Commercial Bus Service), Treharris fleet in 1945.
The trolleybus service was replaced with motorbuses in 1957, but otherwise there was little change for many years. However, the 1960s saw a certain amount of retrenchment, with much of the operation outside the council area given up one way or another. The former Commercial Bus services were not profitable and joint operation to Ynysybwl, Glyncoch and Porth was replaced by exclusive operation to Glyncoch. The only joint service that lasted was the one to Caerphilly.
From 1st April 1974 Taff-Ely Borough Council became responsible for the operation but apart from the name little else changed. The older Prussian Blue livery had been replaced by Azure Blue from 1971.
The fleet’s operation was not suited to the legal requirements of bus regulation. In 1966 the fleet size was 51 and 46 buses were needed for the evening peak, but only 15 in the middle of the day. Annual vehicle mileage was under 20,000 and the only other municipal fleet with such a low mileage (apart from Colwyn Bay, Douglas and Llandudno which were seasonal) was Darwen. Whilst the peak diminished by the ‘eighties Taff-Ely was dominated by school traffic, whilst the local services were vulnerable to competition. The demise of the bus operation, which was not allowed to be subsidised, can be seen as almost inevitable in these circumstances. National Welsh took over the remnants of the fleet (but not the depot) in 1988.
The gallery is split up into several collections. The first looks at the fleet over the years and includes most vehicles ever operated. I have also tried to feature the operations as much as possible so there is another collections where photographs are grouped by route. The third collection is photographs of vehicles that operated for Pontypridd or Taff-Ely either before or after they were in the fleet. Most photographs can appear in more than one section, the main exceptions being those taken at the depot. A final collection is a miscellany of items related to the fleet which should be of interest, including a look at how I nearly became part of the story! This section also includes at look at the variations in liveries seen in the fleet over the years.
This story could not have been completed without incredibly generous support from a large number of photographers who have made original (and in many cases previously unseen) material available to me, along with others who have given permission for their photographs to be used - they are credited with the individual photographs.
I should particularly like to dedicate this gallery to Don (D A) Jones as it was his permission to use his photographs which acted as the catalyst for the project. Sadly Don died on May 12th 2014, not long after he gave permission and so he will not see the end result. I hope he would have been pleased.