THE days when charabancs maintained a stately presence on our roads are well behind us -- but at least some tales about them remain.

Mr Terry Atherton, of Sherwood Avenue in Radcliffe wrote to inform us that we pictured his mother in a photograph of a cake weigh-in at St Philips church.

He also told us about her father, William Lees, who in the early part of the 20th century ran what was possibly Radcliffe's first bus company from his garages in Mellor Street.

Although his grandfather passed away before Mr Atherton was born, some stories about the garage and its original people carriers were passed down.

In 1923, being a Bolton Wanderers supporter, Mr Lees ran a charabanc to the first Wembley FA Cup Final.

Bolton were playing West Ham United in the game that famously became known as the "White Horse Final".

Mr Atherton said: "My grandmother went along, but was not interested in football and so stayed with the 'chara' outside the ground.

"A number of Bolton supporters who saw the vehicle thought the lady on the charabanc must have been important, so they asked her who she was.

"Her quick response was that she was the mother of David Jack, a famous Bolton player, which of course she wasn't.

"The fans were so impressed my grandmother signed several autographs for them as Mrs Hannah Jack!

"The charabancs weren't the fastest things and when full apparently used to grind up hills and inclines.

"My father used to claim that on the trips to Blackpool, travelling up Chorley Old Road in Bolton, women pushing prams would overtake them."

Mr Lees was quite adaptable when it came to his fleet. Some motor lorries used for trade freight during the week would have a charabanc body fitted at weekends for passenger traffic.

Behind the waggon in the bottom picture, one can clearly see the house adjoining the garage that the Lees family used to live in.

The coach pictured at the top -- the Blackpool Daily -- was one of the more elegant pieces in the fleet.

Note that it had three doors along the passenger side of the vehicle, and two runner boards beneath them. This was also one of the first vehicles ever to be fitted with NAP pneumatic tyres.

Also among the Lees vehicles was a black saloon car that he would loan or rent out to the local police superintendent.

"My mother as a young girl used to think it was wonderful riding around the town in the car.

"Every time a policeman saw the car they would salute, just in case the superintendent was inside!"

At some time in the 1920s, William Lees sold the business to a new operator with a fleet of more modern vehicles. He could no longer compete.

Mr Lees, who changed professions to become the licensee of the Church Inn in Whitefield, passed away in the 1930s.