A History of Brown Edge, a Staffordshire Moorlands Village

If I had a pound for everybody who said that Sam Turner had asked their Grandfather to go into business with them I would be quite satisfied.  It was probably true. What was also true is that they didn’t. Sampson Bratt wouldn’t support Granddad either saying that buses would take trade away from the village which of course was true. Setting up a bus company couldn’t have been easy, after all it was a new idea.

Sam as a young man

Brown Edge was a different place just after the First War.  My grandmother Pepper lived at Brown Knowles (the old golf course at Bradeley) and walked to Brown Edge with a friend when she was a girl.  She had to turn back at Barrie’s Bank (just outside Laughing Cottage) because a group of women came out and stoned them, telling them to go home as they were likely to take their men away!  So Brown Edge was quite isolated.

Sam eventually raised the funds from a loan from The British Wagon Company and bought a Charabanc with wooden seats and canvas roof that had served in the First War.  He parked it at the bottom of Jobs Pool.  Just before my Uncle Edwin died a couple of years ago, he told me of the excitement on the village when people saw it on that first morning, and how as a small boy in 1921, he ran down from the Rocks (where they lived) to proudly sit inside.  He slept inside it all night! It was green and cream which remained the company colours until the end.  The colours were changed for the “deckers” in the late fifties to Tudor Maroon as this was easier to keep clean.

To pay for the bus Sam changed his job from working at Whitfield to welding chains at the chain works at Ford Green where the pay was more and his shifts were different which enabled him to run the buses. Sam was descended from a long line of Master Blacksmiths from Longsdon so I suppose this also appealed as perhaps did the allocation of two quarts of ale per day bought over to the welders from “The Ford” Public House. Good job they didn’t have breathalysers then!


The early days saw him fetching and carrying miners from Whitfield to Brown Edge which the company continued to do for the next 70 years. Two nice stories that I have been told relate to the relationship he had with  the colliers. One told me that Sam always gave them a fag when they got on the bus (miners couldn’t carry “contraband” cigarettes and matches on their person) This clearly was a good way to build business. Frankie Holdcroft told me that he used to collect money and act as conductor and found a five pound note tucked in the money bag and told Sam.  Sam said it had been there for a while and was waiting to see who would tell him first, and did he want a job!

Whitfield pit has many memories for me personally because as soon as I could walk until I went to school my Uncle Edwin used to take me on the bus at dinner time to drop off the miners on noon’s and to pick up the men on days. This is how I learned to drive as the conductor would stand me on the front seat with the little window open and Uncle Edwin would say “listen to the engine and tell me when to change gear”  I don’t know what the miners thought as we lurched up Duke Bank. What I did find out though was that with an AEC engine if you got it wrong, the engine was so finely balanced that it would go backwards so you had 4 reverse gears and one very slow forward gear!


1212 RE

I also had memories of sitting on the knee of the driver of the cage of the Hesketh Pit and seeing the cable run out from this great engine.  I wasn’t sure about this as it must be unlikely for a child to be taken in this dangerous environment, but I was telling this to John Chadwick and he said it was true, as it was he who operated the cage. He of course lived opposite the garage that Granddad built in 1926 in High Lane. This wasn’t our first garage as he used to park where the Cross Edge Road is now and also where the Post Office is now situated.  I don’t know which garage it was but i have been told many times that one was made of oil drums and planks and that it was blown away  in a gale!

Sam was supported in his business venture by his wife Harriet Tomkinson the daughter of Daniel (Tunny) Tomkinson and Alice Mountford. She was the cousin of Mrs Sam Bratt,  Mrs Basnett,  Mrs Berrisford  and Lottie Hayes which just typifies the Brown Edge community where outsiders call us in-breds and my family tree research has shown this to be true. There are more Mountfords, Sheldons & Sharratts in my family than you can imagine.

Shortly after the charabanc, Sam bought another bus and retired the old bus (it was a hen cote when I was a boy in the back garden) This new bus was soon added to when he bought Lee Burges’s business from him

He left the Chain Works and started running a Public Service vehicle to Burslem (which changed to Hanley shortly after) and taking the Mill Girls to Leek which again conveniently had different shifts than the miners.

The trip to Leek wasn’t easy. Uncle Gordon once told me that people

Turner's Buses

were frightened when the bus used to go “round the corkscrew” and that some caught the train to Endon and then caught the bus up to Brown Edge.  It was quite a while before I realised that The Corkscrew was the name of the road before the New Cutting was made at Longsdon.

Harriet Turner died in 1954 and Sam died shortly afterward and on his death certificate the official cause of death is “Died of a broken heart” The business was carried on by their 4 sons and daughter.

I have a photograph of Uncle Gordon as a young man at Ilam in front of two buses on a Sunday Mystery Trip  He said that was the first time a bus had been down there and to get back all the passengers had to get out and push the bus up Bloor pastures because it was too steep.  He had lots of stories like that.  He used to love driving, he hardly ever looked at the road just looking round at the scenery and talking to passengers!

245 TRF


On one Llandudno trip he went off to Conway and tried to get across the bridge there only to find out that it was too sharp a bend at the end to cross.  A helpful local told him that no bus had ever crossed the bridge and he would have to wait until they built the proposed new bridge!  So
Uncle Gordon got out of the bus had a good look, reversed back, turned round and reversed over the bridge and managed to turn the corner, much to the dismay of the locals.

I could say so much more about the business I was born into and loved. The memories of incidents that happened keep flooding back, the local dialect that was used, as well as the knowledge and wisdom that was passed from Sam to his four sons Gordon, Edwin, Alan, Roy and his Daughter Olwyn all of whom have passed away now.

One thing typifies the hard working no nonsense attitude of these people is when Uncle Gordon was stopped in Leek by a police woman when he was bringing the Mill Girls home.  It was, and is,  illegal to drive a bus while smoking (I don’t know how Frankie Frost survived all those years driving for us, as he never had a fag out of his mouth) and he invariably had a cigar or pipe going.  It was pointed out to him by the police woman that he couldn’t smoke his pipe and he replied. “Arr arv get shees om mar feyt but ar anner wokin”  which roughly translated means “my pipe isn’t lit and there isn’t a law against that, so if you don’t mind I will proceed on my way thank you very much”

Turner's BusesI still get people calling at “The Garage” or dropping notes in  telling me of what is happening to the buses.  One is supposedly in USA painted red, another was in Germany but has been bought back to the Potteries where it is going to be restored and painted up in our colours and another is in  a yard on the Wirral which again is supposedly going to be restored so perhaps my final journey will indeed be possibly like my first (back from Leek Hospital) on one of  Sammy Turner’s Buses


29 Responses

  1. Hi when I lived at Norton we used to catch one of your buses to Hanley from outside the park on Ford Green Road just below the crossroads.

    I am writing a family history/tree book for my sister and would like to include ‘Memories of Norton’ and hope to include the big brown bus in it. What I cannot remember is the service number.

    Could you help please?

    Kind regards

    1. Hi Barbara
      We never used a service number and the buses weren’t brown they were Tudor Maroon and cream with silver trim. The official company colours were green and ivory until we changed the deckers to Tudor maroon in 1959.

  2. hi, you started your article mentioning Sampson Bratt – do you have any more info on this person. I am doing my familt tree and am related to a Sampson Bratt from Brown Edge, probably from the Sandy Lane area. Thanks.

    1. Hi Helen
      From memory there were two Sampson Bratts father and son I remember the younger one very well. what information do you require.
      Peter Turner

      1. Hello and happy new year Peter.

        I am Michael Turner the younger brother of Perter, Brian and Barbara. Our late parents were Tom and Nancy.

        We lived in High Lane and our father used to organise day trips to the seaside during the August Potteries holiday.

        My Grandfather Tom was the brother I think of Samuel Turner the founder of Turners Bus Company. Hence, we are related I do believe.

        I have lots of fond memories of Brown Edge and Turners buses if you wish to correspond further.

        I Live in Hastings East Sussex where I have been a Borough Councillor since 2010 to the present.

  3. Hello Admin,

    Used to use Turners buses from 60s until closure. I had a friend who used to drive there around about the 70s named Ron Elliot, does any one remember.
    Can you tell me what make of double deck bus they used around that period and is there any record of reg Numbers as I want to create a model. Also any markings and color scheme details if possible or where to obtain them.

    Ivor Slack.

    1. Hi Ivor
      Yes I now remember Ron Elliot. If you look at the Turners bus fleet list section on here an almost complete fleet list along with links to photographs which might be of assistance.
      The colours were tudor maroon and regency cream for the deckers
      Pete Turner

  4. Hi all, does anyone remember Leonard Griffiths? He was my father and worked as a conducted on Turners buses in the late 1960s.

  5. Thank you very much for posting this.

    It seems Sam is my great-grandfather and passed the buses onto my paternal grandfather Edwin and his brothers. I have very vague memories of the buses from the late 80s early 90s so it’s a really nice experience to read about the history of my family.

    Any other stories about our family would be greatly appreciated.

    1. Hi Simon
      Hope you are well. Quite a few stories I could tell you about your Grandfather and My Godfather Edwin. At some point i am threatening to have a Get together all descendants of James Turner your GGG Grandfather. Should be interesting.
      Peter Roy Turner

      1. Hi Peter

        Thanks for replying, it certainly would be an interesting one! I’d love to find out more. How many of us are there? Any ideas?


    2. Hi all. I am currently restoring LVT699V
      She is based at the NWVRT premises in Kirkby near lpool I bought her in a derelict state and have refitted the engine and gearbox , repanelled both sides and fitted new seats , now in undercoat and thanks to Martin will be painted soon with a target appearance at the Wirral bus show in October Hope this is of interest

    3. Please don’t forget there sister my mum olwyn it seems she is never mentioned but played a big part in the family I’m pauline Evans her daughter my grandad was sam

  6. My nana’s husband who passed away was Sam Turners son!!! Gordon is my dads uncle also.
    I now know the history of Turners busses ‘sammys busses’.

  7. Hi, i think we might be related, my mum says sam turner was my grandfathers couson. James Turner, He had a brother George and sister Rachel. Rachels daughter still lives in the family home in Brown Edge. I passed a Turners bus the other day and my Mum started to fill me in on the family tree. Nice to see the old bus still running Thanks Linda

  8. Sorry to hear about Marie I was very fond of her, I will see what photo’s I can find, do not hold much hope, Do you live in Brown Edge, and do you know Margret Bourne, if you do and she has a computer would give my E mail address and ask her to E mail me, she was my sisters best friend.
    Happy New Year to you and your Familey.

    1. Hi Geoff just read the very interesting story about Turner’s Buses and notice you are making enquiries about Dianne’s friend Margaret Bourne, I know this lady very well as she became my Wife, Margaret, I must tell you cannot switch a computer on
      (no interest) but you can certainly email her via myself.
      May I also say that Dianne was a best friend of Margaret & Myself.
      Kind regards.
      pp Margaret.

    2. Hello and happy new year Geoff.

      You might remember me ? I am Michael Turner the brother of Peter, Brian and Barbara Turner. Our late parents were Tom and Nancy.

      Dad used to organise day trips to the seaside with Turner’s Buses during August Bank Holidays.

      Some of my fondest memories of my life in Brown Edge involved The Holly Bush Pub where my friends and I used to gather outside before we became of age to consume alcohol. I now live in Hastings East Sussex where I have been a local Borough Councillor since 2010. Lots of memories to exchange should you wish to do so..

      Best wishes,


  9. I remember Turners buses very well, I live next door in the Holly Bush, I remember the family, it way my dads bus service Sam got from my grandad when my dad was very ill in hospital, my grandad did not thing my dad was going to get better, so he sold his bus service, then he got better, and went to do some driving for Sam Turners when they were short of a driver, if Marie is still with us, say hello for me, I know a lot about Turners buses. I was in Brown Edge a few weeks ago, had a lovely lunch Holly Bush. Geoff Burgess

    1. Sadly Marie and Michael have both passed away as have all the second generation. I still own the house and used it as offices until recently. I rent it out now.
      Do you have a photo of your dad and granddad or any of the buses as I want to do an article and include it in the website
      Pete Turner

      1. So shocked to hear that both Marie and Michael have passed away, I knew both very well, infact Marie Married a relative of mine Gerald Tatton I think they divorced and if i remember correctly Marie had the wool shop in Norton Green. Remember Turners busses too, they used to stop and wait for me most mornings outside my house (cant remember his name think it was Bill we called him Little Bill i think) well he would shout “HEY UP HERE COMES BLOODY 10 to 9” wonderful memories

        1. Little Bill was Billy Chaddock. That might be Chadwick as you know all Chadwickes are Chaddocks on Brown Edge!

          1. Are Billy Chakdwick and John Chadwick related to the Chadwicks who ran a bus service at Mow Cop.
            One of the family was a ships captain for the Leyland Line/
            Iam related to the Chadwicke through my grandmother Maria Hammond nee Jeffries.

    2. Geofrey Burgess a name from the past growing up we used to have some good times and bad i was thinking about Forky [Reg Eardley] i have not seen him for hongs

    1. Hi David
      Body number was 2341
      Body type was Ld PD3/1
      Chassis number was 583970
      seats were H41/31F
      month and year of production 6/1959
      fleet number 12

      Pete Turner

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