Peter Melville-Smith obituary: Harrogate mourns a cherished character

Peter Melville-Smith

Peter Melville-Smith

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Harrgoate continues to mourn for Peter Melville-Smith who has died aged 62; a larger-than-life character known for his skill and passion for his job and enduring generosity and love he showed towards his family and friends.

Peter was a well-known and well-loved face in Harrogate, having dedicated almost 45 years of his working life to his passion for buses.

Peter Melville-Smith (s)

Peter Melville-Smith (s)

As well as his long and loyal career at Transdev, Peter spent a devoted 43 years married to his wife Pauline with whom he had two children; Andrew and Susan.

The reaction to Peter's death on December 23, 2016 and the affection expressed for him, gives a true insight into a man who touched many hearts during his life.

Early Life

Born in Burnley General Hospital on May 23, 1954, Peter was the eldest of three siblings along with his sister Christine and brother Anthony.

Peter (far right) working as a conductor - image by Gary Steel

Peter (far right) working as a conductor - image by Gary Steel

After moving with his family to Harrogate soon after his birth, Peter graduated from Leeds Grammar School before getting a job at the West Yorkshire Road Car Bus company in Leeds.

Despite a brief period working as a salesman for Birdseye, he returned to West Yorkshire and began a training scheme with the bus company.

He began to learn and experience a variety of roles within the company but soon Peter began his bus driving career initially as a conductor.

Pauline

Peter with his wife Pauline (left) and Susan (right)

Peter with his wife Pauline (left) and Susan (right)

It was during his time working as a conductor in 1973 that a 19-year-old Peter met his beloved wife Pauline whilst on the Ling Lane bus out of Leeds.

Pauline was working as a nanny to a family in Leeds but originated in the North East from a small town called Peterlee on the Durham Coast.

After meeting in the July of that year, by November the couple were engaged and by Christmas they had already put a deposit down for their first house in Bilton.

On September 21, 1974 Peter and Pauline married in Peterlee at the Hartlepool Methodist Church in Peterlee.

Peter and his wife Pauling (s)

Peter and his wife Pauling (s)

The couple settled down in Bilton and soon had two children with their eldest Andrew being brown on May 4 1975 and Susan born the following year on December 11.

Career in Harrogate

After working at West Yorkshire Road Car Bus company, Peter began his career with Transdev in 1973 when he passed his bus driving test.

Peter enjoyed many different jobs and roles during his career with the company, including a conductor, scheduler and bus driver before eventually becoming a duty manager.

His colleagues soon recognised his skill and expertise in all of his roles, particularly managing rotas, and fostered a reputation as a reliable, generous and kind-hearted member of the team.

He soon gained the title Detailer and Duty Manager and excelled in this role this role, which included managing the bus station operations, until his death.

Peter with his Transdev team (s)

Peter with his Transdev team (s)

Despite his array of positions, Transdev hailed Peter's importance to the company as he was often seen doing anything needed to help "keep the show on the road".

Chief executive of Transdev, Alex Hornby hailed the skilled and committed employee as "visible and well known to customers" and "a loyal servant to local public transport".

Hobbies and interests

Away from his beloved passion for buses, Peter was a keen quiz member at Bilton Working Men's Club, a member at Bilton Cricket Club and had a keen love of music.

However, on his days off, Peter would enjoy travelling to Leeds or Redcar with Pauline as well as their dog Ruby.

The family enjoyed many summer holidays in Malta, where they again rode on the buses and made close friends with many of the Maltese people there.

His love of travel and family was evident with his frequent visits to see his sister and her family in Mumbles, Wales.

Peter was a committed, hard working and hugely valued member of the Harrogate community whose generosity and larger than life personality will be greatly missed.