ESSAY COMPETITION - PANTYCRWYS - FEB 1ST 1930
ADJUDICATOR :- REV. WALTER BOWEN B.A.
ESSAY :- THE DEVELOPMENT OF BUS SERVICES IN CRAIGCEFNPARC
Our story date as far back as 1924 when the little coal-mining village of Craigcefnparc knew no buses. The country folk peacefully went about their daily tasks, never dreaming about a bus service for the village nor anything of the like. It was then that one, William Griffiths, a blacksmith in the Graigola Merthyr colliery bought a Ford car. A little later, the same William Griffiths opened a shop, and he purchased a Ford lorry to take out the goods. Here, on a very small scale, the bus service commenced its rapid development.
Seats were made to fit into the lorry by one David John Morgan, the village carpenter, and when not in use for shop purposes, the lorry, which was able to carry fourteen seated passengers, was used for making trips or running a service now and again to Clydach.
This proved successful, and at the beginning of 1925 Wiliam Griffiths purchased a real bus which held twenty passengers. It was a Lancia Saloon Bus, painted red, and was called the Parc Eclipse. This was an important step in the development of a 'bus service for Craigcefnparc.
Every Saturday a 'bus left Craigcefnparc at 12 noon and at 2.00 p.m. respectively "en route" for Swansea via Rhydypandy, Pontlasse, Morriston. The Lancia was a very good machine, but it had to run under all conditions, and was rapidly wearing away. Many months later the Lancia chassis was sent away, and a new bus, a Spa, painted a green and yellow, was bought. The Griffiths' Garage is situated on the 'Bank' and mainly consists of zinc.
By this time William Griffiths had secured to run his buses to Swansea via Clydach and Morriston, but was not allowed to pick up passengers in the Borough of Swansea. The people of the village and of Upper Clydach gave their whole hearted support to the "Eclipse" Company.
Another 'bus was now soon purchased, as the business was thriving. It was a twenty six seater "Dubros W & G. London!", a machine which gave the company a great deal of trouble.
In 1926 a real time-table was set up, buses running week-days as well as Saturdays from the village to Swansea. In the latter part of the year, a thirty two seater Albion bus was purchased. This was the first of its type for Griffiths to own as the driver was seated above the bonnet. There are five sons, and by now all are working on the buses.
By this time a manager was essential, and the Rev. Walter Bowen B.A. a son-in-law of Wm Griffiths was given the post. Another Albion bus of the same design quickly followed, a third coming in July 1927. By this time the W & G had been disposed of, as the engine was not up to much good, especially for the extremely steep hills around the village.
At this period the Eclipse company, with two other companies bought the Fairwood Garage, Swansea: later came into full possession of it, and renamed it Northampton Place, and an office was established there-in.
The Spa then parted from the company, the most efficient and most powerful machine that the company had seen, and a second-hand Dodge fourteen-seater 'bus was purchased. At the time when the eclipse first used it, it had terrific acceleration, and could shoot up even the Lone Hill, with passengers on 2nd gear!
As time was wearing on the Company was employing more hands, and soon after, a Dennis 20-seater 'bus was bought.
At this period, another company, the "Leyland Saloon Sevice commenced to run buses to Craigcefnparc as far up as Graig-Cwm. They did not succeed to much extent, and soon gave it up.
It was then that Griffiths started to run a 'bus up to Graig Cwm, and also over to Salem every Friday evening and on Saturdays. With the coming of the Dennis, an Eclipse service commenced to run over to Glais, and soon the Eclipse Saloon Service was well known throughout the district.
Another Albion twenty-five seater arrived not long after, but in August 1928 the company, with all other small bus companies had to hear a case in London, brought against them because of the picking up of passengers in the Borough of Swansea. They had been warned on previous occasions, but the case was decided in their favour, and they were still allowed to run their service, although they did not have the privilege of picking up passengers in the Borough.
The service to Graig-Cwm, Salem and Glais, was rapidly declining as the company needed its buses for the main highways. The company secured licenses to run buses up to Swansea Valley as far as Ystalyfera, and thus more buses were again needed.
The Dodge met with a tragic end over in Glais. One day while being driven on Glais Road by the Eclipse Mechanic, the engine burst into flames, and the well-known Dodge was destroyed.
Two 'buses, a Leyland Lion, and a Leyland Tiger were soon added to the Eclipse 'buses, and the services up the valley prospered to a very great extent.
The Dennis was now disposed of as the engine was giving the company continual trouble, mainly from the magneto.
Nevertheless. Another Leyland bus, a lion, arrived during the winter of 1929. All the Leyland are thirty-six seaters, and at the present time, the Eclipse have seven buses on the road, and they employ approximately twenty-eight men. Hence a colliery blacksmith gave a boon to his native village, and the Eclipse Saloon Service is very well known today.