Trying to set the record straight
Hello. Some of you may know me, but for anyone who doesn't, my name is Martyn Hearsen and I began my working life in buses at Stonier’s of Goldenhill, thanks to an offer made by Jim Berresford.
The reason for this communication to your excellent site is a concern which I have regarding the accuracy of dates re the Stonier acquisition. You state that the Stonier business was bought in 1978, this is most definitely incorrect. My career as a Trainee Traffic Manager at Goldenhill began 17th January 1978, a close friend was engaged in the same capacity on the same day at Cheddleton. Jim and May Berresford had been the Directors of W. Stonier & Sons Ltd for approximately eighteen months prior to this. Whilst I don't know the exact date, I would estimate it to have been circa July 1976. The first of the inter-company bus loans took place shortly afterwards as they feature in my earliest photographs which I took in 1976. The 'group' further expanded when early in 1978 the business of F.T. Stubbs (Coaches) Ltd of Tunstall came into the fold, ostensibly as a Stonier subsidiary. This brought three Ford coaches into the fleet, two R1114s (one Plaxton, one Duple) and a Thames Trouper which saw brief service at Bymes. On the subject of the acquisition of the Brown's Direct Coal & Haulage (Mosswood Tours) business, this possibly was in 1978, though could have been in 1979 as I wrote the initial letter expressing interest in purchasing to preserve Jim's annonimity. The only reason that I mention the above, is that I feel it's important in a historical document to provide the truth where it's available. Sadly this small inaccuracy has crept into a new publication regarding Indepenent Buses in Staffordshire, which has had a knock on effect in that there is now a belief that the two four year old Maidstone Borough Atlanteans placed into the Stonier fleet were the last buses purchased by Stonier's as an independent business. This! is totally untrue, as they, and Leopard 405 RRR were the first! additions under Berresford control. Reasons which I can offer as to further prove the matter relate to Jim's opinion that 'new service buses could not be justified'... but coaches could. At the time of the takeover, Stonier's themselves had a new Leopard I Willowbrook service bus on order, which Jim grudgingly realised wasn't going to be easy to cancel with all the prospective ramifications, not the least of which was the 'Bus Grant' offer. Time tells us that an industrial dispute (one of many) at the Loughborough plant provided the springboard for Jim to do just that (my colleague Tim Machin has the copy letters which are not without interestl) In a nut shell, Jim crossed the picket line, identified his chassis, and took it to Plaxton at Scarborough. Here's where the point of what I'm driving at comes in... this chassis re-appeared as Berresford's penultimate new vehicle. VVT419S. However, to keep the peace at Stonier's he purchased TVT 863R from dealer stock (registered in 1977). Rumour has it that Stonier's also had a new Atlantean on order at the time, which Jim cancelled, though I've been unable to substantiate that particular claim... such information was kept from junior members of staff! Thanks again for everyones efforts on what is a most enjoyable site.
Best Wishes, Martyn.