After 44 years of operating it was time to call it a day
A proud coachman from the north east of Scotland has retired from the industry he loves dearly. Charlie Riddler, proprietor of Arbroathbased Riddler’s Coaches has sold his fleet to J.P. Mini Coaches of Forfar. Charlie’s O-licence was for eight vehicles and he had been operating for more than four decades. His son Fraser also worked in the business for a spell.
“After 44 years my body and my wife Gwen are telling me to give up my steering wheel and keys,” said Charlie. “In 1974 I bought my first new motor from Moseley’s showroom in Durham, a Ford Estoril 53-seater followed by other new coaches in 1997, 1998 and 2002. I’ve toured all over Britain and some of the continent, and ferried many different organisations from the Royal Marines to all of the Angus senior football teams – and Dundee United under the reign of Jim McLean.
“Blackpool illuminations were a great experience with as many as half a dozen coaches leaving Arbroath on a Friday evening to arrive just after midnight, returning on Monday evening. The summer holiday and day tours we organised for many years were also a great success.
“At the height of the business I was changing vehicles on a regular basis. The takeover of Bean’s Coaches in Brechin extended the fleet to 14. This would not have been achieved without a great workforce of mechanics and drivers, and a very thrifty clerkess who has been with me for 32 years.
“My wife Gwen has turned her hand to a variety of jobs from office to mechanical work. The last few years have seen major changes in regulations and I decided to retire and do some travelling of my own, including visiting my daughter in Canada.”
Raised in rural Angus, Charlie followed in his father’s footsteps and worked on the land for a couple of years after leaving school. However, his heart was not in it. He started his career with a mechanical apprenticeship at Tayford Motors of Dundee before taking his PCV licence with Greyhound Coaches in Arbroath Kirk Square. He founded his own business with a 41-seater Duplebodied Bedford SB bought from Napper Thomson Coaches, Dundee in 1969. He began to work from premises in Inverkeilor, followed by a 1972 move to the Cairnie Loan yard which has been the company’s base since.