Jolly Buses

One of the earliest Jolly buses, PT 6174.
One of the earliest Jolly buses, PT 6174.

William Henry Jolly was born in 1896, the son of a clerk on the railway.  At the age of 18 he decided on an Army career and he worked in transport between 1914-1918.  When he returned home in 1918 he worked in an office at Doxford Engines where he met Ann Lee Swaine whom he later married in 1924.

After several months of unemployment he decided to buy a 1918 Ford Bus, registration no. DC 2344.  The bus was only 4 years old, and although it only had 14 seats it was a very useful vehicle. All seats were removable and the celluloid windows slotted in so that the bus could be converted into a wagon.  Therefore this bus served two purposes, running a passenger service and delivering coal.

During the General Strike, William Henry Jolly took turns with the other local operators (Laybourn, Chilton and Brown) to deliver coal and run the public service.

The early Jolly buses ran from the Railway Station, to the cemetery gates in Hylton Road, then the licence was extended and buses travelled as far as The Plaza in Pallion Road.  Laybourn was bought out by W.H.Jolly in December 1956.  It wasn’t until 1964 that the first Jolly bus ran into the centre of Sunderland as the direct train service between South Hylton and Sunderland ceased on May 4th 1964.

William Henry Jolly died in 1952 at the age of 55 and the business continued to operate by his widow Ann Lee and his 2 sons Kenneth Kearsley and Matthew Lynn.  Sadly, the last Jolly bus to serve the village ran on the 1st July 1995 – the end of an era.

The Railways

Hylton Railway Station circa 1926

An act of the 27th July 1846, gave authorisation to build a railway from the line at Penshaw (opened 24th August 1838) to Sunderland (Fawcett Street).  The new line opened on the 20th February 1852 for freight traffic and on the 1st June 1853 passengers.
The station at Hylton had two platforms; the north side accepting trains to Sunderland, and the south side, trains to Durham.  It was possible, with some trains, to board at Hylton and not leave the carriage until the terminus at Middleton-in-Teasdale was reached.

 Sometimes, one had to “change” at Durham.
During World War II, a train left Durham for Sunderland.  This was known as the “Midnight Mail” since it left about midnight.  It was popular with members of H.M. Forces coming home on leave, BUT, one had to remember to inform the Guard of the train where one wished to alight, as this was a “Request Stop” train.  Failure to do this meant that one ended up at one of the stations beyond Hylton.

Hylton Railway Station circa 1905

Hylton Station was quite a busy one and the signal box there controlled a good deal of traffic.  In addition to the normal passenger trains, coal trains of the Lambton, Hetton and Joicey Collieries ran frequently up and down to the staithes at Sunderland. The railway was also much used by the forges which existed by its side, Reay & Usher’s (later Forster’s) and Bagnall’s.  The Paper Mill, too, was served by this branch line and had its own signal box at Claxheugh Rock.  There was also a coal depot behind the station and this was also supplied by the railway.

According to the late Cecil Brown’s researches, the “chairs” and “spikes” for holding the rails of the “Penshaw Branch” were made at Hylton Iron Works.
On the 4th May, 1964,  following Lord Beecham’s “Axe”, Hylton Station closed and later the railway track was lifted.

The last train to depart Hylton Station for Durham on May 2nd, 1964.
The last train to depart Hylton Station for Durham on May 2nd, 1964.

After many years of planning and millions of pounds invested,  the extension to the “Metro” finally arrived at Hylton on Sunday, 31st March 2002.

There is more information available about the history of South Hylton Railway Station available by clicking on this link to go to the Disused Stations website.