It’s the ultimate classic vehicle restoration labour of love.

Geoff Lumb found an old bus made in Huddersfield in the 1920s and wanted to restore it back to full running order again.

That was in 1972 and only now, 50 years later, is the project complete with the bus on show in one of the UK’s top transport museums.

Sadly, 85-year-old Geoff lost his sight six years ago to macular degeneration and then a stroke so, although he couldn’t see his bus make its first outing onto a road in 90 years, he sat in it for one poignant last time before it left his Golcar workshop.

Geoff, an engineer who spent all his working life at Huddersfield engineering company Thomas Broadbent and Sons from apprentice to project engineer, is a transport enthusiast, historian and author.

The former Huddersfield Railway Circle chairman has written several books including British Trolleybuses 1911-1972 and Heyday of the Bus: Yorkshire but is determined to keep alive the memory of legendary Huddersfield bus and lorry manufacturer Karrier which was owned by the town’s Clayton family.

He recalls first seeing Karrier dustbin lorries while growing up on Lindley Moor and always wanted to find one to restore as he grew older.

Karrier only operated from just before the First World War until 1935 but made 2,200 chassis for army lorries and buses to help the war effort and in its peak years employed 1,000 people at its site on St Thomas’s Road near Folly Hall where Cathedral House now stands. The company built buses, lorries, vans and open-topped charabancs.

Karrier only ever built 169 buses in just four years from 1925 to 1929 and Geoff has a 1928 WL6 model that he’s restored over the last five decades after spotting it being used as a holiday caravan on sand dunes at a village called Talacre near Prestatyn in North Wales.

He’s been helped over the years by several friends, including most recently Stuart Young from Dalton, who has been his chief engineer, and the late Malcolm Powell from Golcar who worked on the electrics.

Geoff, who is now providing his extensive archive for author Mike Fenton to work on a book called Karrier The Huddersfield Years, was determined the renovation should be authentic and spent years tracking down five of the other 169 buses to get the spare parts he needed for his project.

He found the radiator in Scotland, a petrol tank in Kent and other bits and pieces across the country and reckons the renovation project will have cost around £80,000 over the 50 years.

“It’s been a treasure hunt that’s gone on for a large part of my life,” he said.

The bus has now gone to the Museum of Transport, Greater Manchester which will take it to Ashton-under-Lyne for an official unveiling on June 30 as the bus operated in Ashton 90 years ago.

Geoff, of Cowlersley, said: “Letting the bus go was a very sad day for me. It’s been such a massive part of my life.”

But he’s determined to keep the Karrier heritage alive. During the First World War 160 Karrier employees joined the forces and around 10% of them lost their lives.

Their names were on a wooden memorial board which Geoff saved, had it restored and it now hangs in Huddersfield Drill Hall, home to the territorial army. Symbols on the board indicate the men who never came home.

The Karrier brand was made obsolete almost overnight. Its vehicles were powered by petrol engines but were replaced by other makes that used the new diesel engines that were way cheaper to run.

Or, as Geoff admits: “With the Karrier bus you’d get three miles to the gallon … if you’re lucky.”

Geoff has been married to Ethel for 54 years and the couple have two daughters, Clare and Jane, and three grandchildren.

He has some other vintage buses, a 1938 Guy Wolf which he’s owned since 1966, a 1932 Commer Centaur and three other Karrier chassis.

All the buses are known as the Golcar Transport Collection which has traditionally been open to the public on just one day every year, Golcar Lily Day in May. Geoff says that now the Karrier bus has gone the collection won’t open again.

When Geoff and Ethel married on August 21, 1968, it was the same month local ITV news started and they featured the couple’s wedding as they used the 1938 Guy Wolf bus for the wedding party. The bus was also used when both their daughters got married.

“It has such a lot of happy memories for us,” said Ethel. “We’ve been all around the country in it over the years.

“Geoff has put his heart and soul into renovating the Karrier. After he finished work in 1992 he was up there in Golcar every day working on it until he lost his sight but it’s part of Huddersfield’s history and something that’s now preserved for future generations.

“Very few people remember that Huddersfield had a bus and lorry manufacturing industry so what Geoff has done is a wonderful gift for the town to see something from almost 100 years ago now back to just how it looked and worked in 1929. It really has been a labour of love.”

Written by ANDY HIRST who runs his own Yorkshire freelance journalism agency AH! PR ( specialising in press releases, blogging, website content and copywriting.