A Huddersfield bus and coach company is celebrating 40 years in business this year … and there’s a side to this family firm many people don’t realise exists.
Stotts is based in Milnsbridge and runs bus services across the Colne and Holme valleys, daily school runs and coach trips.
But many people don’t know that Stotts is one of only 32 operators in the UK that run daily services for National Express to London, Blackpool and Birmingham with coaches in full National Express livery.
Stotts now employs 55 people, has daily school run contracts with Colne Valley High School, Honley High, Holmfirth High and Rastrick High and runs 15 local minibus services on routes across the Colne and Holme valleys.
It operates the coaches for Huddersfield Town fans travelling to away games and organises dozens of coaches for massive matches with 100 coaches supplied to the club back in 2017 for the play-off final when Town beat Reading at Wembley to reach the Premier League.
You’ll also see Stotts providing rail replacement buses when the train tracks are closed due to engineering works.
Its fleet is now 36-strong although it can operate up to 40 vehicles from its Milnsbridge site and has its own workshops where the award-winning engineering team maintains the fleet so everything is done in house.
The company began in 1984 when Eric Stott started to run one coach from the car park of the Toss O Coin pub in New Mill.
He soon got a great reputation, so much so that former Huddersfield coach companies Abbeyways and Ivy Coaches began subcontracting work to him when they were really busy.
Brothers Carl (right) and Mark Stott with one of the company’s many trophies
Eric’s two sons, Carl and Mark, joined the company in 1987 in their early 20s shortly after the fledgling E Stott and Sons moved to Marsden to a small garage next to the Shakespeare Inn on Peel Street.
Eric had bought the garage off Abbeyways and the deal came with a couple of contracts to run daily school buses to Colne Valley High School in Linthwaite. One was picking up pupils who lived at Scapegoat Hill and the other was for youngsters from Golcar.
The bus fleet expanded as more school contracts came in and the original plan was to move to a base behind the New Inn in Marsden that had been used by parcel delivery firm SBH Transport but there were too many objections so they moved to a large site tucked away beneath the railway viaduct in Milnsbridge and have been there ever since.
In 1995 Stotts won the contract to run minibuses on local bus routes in the Holme Valley, followed by getting routes in the Colne Valley too.
Stotts provided coaches for tours for well-known holiday companies National Holidays, Tourmaster and Omega Holidays which were mainly to UK towns and seaside resorts as well as weekend and theatre trips to London.
A gamechanger for Stotts came in 2005 when it started to run what’s known as duplicate services for National Express. It meant they were called into action if a National Express coach was fully booked and a second vehicle was needed for that route but the strict stipulation was the coach had to be white and unbranded.
After five years in this role National Express was so impressed with Stotts’ standard of service the company was invited to tender for a network contract. This means Stotts operates its own coaches but they must be to National Express’ specification and be painted in the National Express colours.
Since 2010 Stotts has run daily services from Huddersfield, Bradford and Leeds to London, Blackpool and Birmingham.
Carl, who is in charge of maintenance for Stotts, said: “It’s a very prestigious contract to have but also a very demanding one too as National Express has rigorous checking and audit standards – and rightly so.
“Our vehicles and drivers are audited on a regular basis for cleanliness of the coaches, punctuality, safety, reliability and customer service. We are also audited every year on health and safety and compliance, achieving 100% in the 2023 audit.”
Stotts has always strived to achieve the top standard in everything they do which is why the slogan ‘Committed to Quality’ is on the side of their vehicles.
They have operated to the gold standard since starting operations for National Express since 2010 and have also held the National Express Golden Spanner Award for Engineering since its introduction in 2015.
Stotts has a strong track record of winning awards and in 2009 was awarded the CoachMarque accolade. All CoachMarque members are regularly and independently audited in order to prove that they continue to comply with the very highest levels of safety, customer service and operational standards.
In 2012 Stotts won the Route One Operator Excellence Award for its local minibus services on bus routes. Route One is a media and promotions organisation for the industry.
Stotts was a finalist for Best Medium Coach Operator in the 2017 awards and Carl was shortlisted for Small Fleet Engineer of the Year in the 2022 awards.
Stotts has won many National Express awards including the Best Fleet Award which they have won seven times.
Stotts also operated daily express coach services for Megabus for four years from 2018 to 2022 and still run part-time services for that company.
Long-serving members of staff at Stotts include former Football League referee Richard Poulain (25 years) and Richard Cracknell (24 years). They both started out with Stotts as drivers but now work in the office alongside the directors.
The company gets lots of positive testimonials including this from December 2023: “Travelled on your National Express 173 service to Blackpool on Wednesday 27th December. Upbeat-spirited driver full of charisma, made us laugh amid the awful weather and driving conditions for him. Great advert for how customer service on public transport should be done.”
Carl, Mark and Eric said: “We would like to thank all our employees, customers and suppliers old and new for supporting and working with us over the last 40 years and for their help in making the business what it is today.”
Written by ANDY HIRST who runs his own Yorkshire freelance journalism agency AH! PR (https://ah-pr.com/) specialising in press releases, blogging, website content and copywriting.