Charles Henry Roe
Many heritage organisations have a particular person from the past whom they pay special tribute to. There are various railway organisations to remember Gresley, Thompson, Stanier, Brunel, Ivatt, et al.
For those of us preserving Leeds buses, Charles Henry Roe is the person without whom we simply wouldn't be here today; his legacy continuing into the future through the new Optare building at Sherburn. Whilst its probably safe to say that while he was overseeing the bodying of AEC Regent and Leyland PD buses he probably didn't envisage anything like the Optare Solo or the Leeds Jumbo, the foundations were put in place by him nevertheless.
So who was Charles Henry Roe? We know that he was born in York on 22nd May 1887. The Leeds Engine site has a more detailed history of him, but he set up on his own as a coachbuilder in 1917 in Balm Road, Hunslet. Charles Henry and his wife Kathleen lived in the Cross Gates/Austhorpe area and a suitable site north of Manston Lane became available. Many beautiful bus bodies were produced at the Cross Gates Carriageworks from 1921 to closure (and the move of Optare to Sherburn) in 2011. Charles Henry resigned as Chairman in 1962 and died 30th November 1965. We have been unable to trace his resting place but perhaps a reader knows?
Most of the other transport pioneers of Leeds have been commemmorated via the Leeds Civic Trust's Blue Plaque Scheme. There are plaques for railway builders the Hunslet Engine Company, J&H McLaren and John Fowler, then Thomas Grainger's railway roundhouse in Armley has been honoured, as has aviation pioneer Robert Blackburn and the father of civil engineering John Smeaton. On the bus side, we are grateful that Samuel Ledgard has been honoured.
The Blue Plaques Committee have considered our request for a Blue Plaque for Charles Henry Roe in their April meeting but declined it on the basis that there is no original fabric to attach it to, which is fair enough. There are a couple of Leeds Blue Plaques that have been affixed to plinths or to modern buildings but sadly it is not to be for Charlie.
What we decided instead is to try to have some kind of heritage information board erected at the western corner of the Cross Gates Carriageworks site. Avant Homes are mid way through building on the site (note that the houses that front onto Manston Lane are all now occupied) but a piece of land at the south western tip of the development (next to Manston Lane and the former Cross Gates to Wetherby railway line) hasn't been allocated to a property and is an ideal location for a tribute.
A letter was sent to Avant Homes in mid April but to date no response has been received. This is where you come in. Negotiating with both large corporate organisations and councils/government is much easier if the strength of support for something can be quantified.
We have created an online petition which we hope everyone will sign: SIGN THE PETITION BY CLICKING HERE in order that we can see the level of support there is for Charles Henry Roe and his memory.
Whilst the present appeal is for recognition of Mr. Roe, it is worth noting that there are potentially a few other people/companies in Leeds for whom recognition via a Blue Plaque or similar could be appropriate. From our perspective, Thomas Lord (the last general manager of Leeds City Transport, and the person who specified the Jumbo) is probably second on the list. Whom would you recognise from the past?
We are the biggest collection of preserved West Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive (Metro or WYPTE)/Yorkshire Rider buses, all housed or periodically displayed in their homeland of Yorkshire.
Take yourself back in time, and remember how West Yorkshire was. Many things might have changed, but those green and cream buses are one thing that people remember fondly.
Here at Transport Yorkshire Preservation Group, we relive the era of buses painted in verona green and buttermilk, and later in Yorkshire Rider's bright green and jonquil.
Transport Yorkshire Preservation Group Ltd is a not-for-profit company (limited by guarantee)
registered number 06125986 that exists solely for the restoration and conservation of our historic
vehicles, together with education of all sections of the community, not only in our vintage vehicles,
but the role they played in the political scene of 1970s, 1980s and 1990s Yorkshire.
Transport Yorkshire Preservation Group Ltd is a not-for-profit company
(limited by guarantee)
registered number 06125986 that exists solely for the restoration and
conservation of our historic
vehicles, together with education of all sections of the community, not only
in our vintage vehicles,
but the role they played in the political scene of 1970s, 1980s and 1990s
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