Obituary: Jean Porteous, 1928-2021

Jean Porteous, co founder of Alpha Coaches of Hull

Jean Porteous, co-founder of respected operator Alpha Coaches of Hull, has died. She was 93.

Mrs Porteous began her involvement in the industry in 1959, when she and husband Terry established the business with a single minicoach. It continued on a small scale through the 1960s, operating on a part-time basis while Mr Porteous maintained employment elsewhere. By the middle of the decade three coaches were in use with the addition of various 29-seat Bedford VAS models and a Commer 14-seater.

In 1966 Alpha took delivery of its first new vehicle in the form of a Bedford CA with luxury 11-seat Martin Walker bodywork. It was supplied by dealer Jack Leah, who along with his wife Madge became lifelong friends of the Porteous family through many holidays and adventures abroad together.

After a lengthy conversation with Mr Leah when purchasing the CA, it was decided that Alpha would become a full-time occupation for Mr and Mrs Porteous. During the 1970s it expanded to six coaches, with the first full-size vehicle arriving in 1972. It was a Bedford VAL with Plaxton bodywork and came from fellow Yorkshire business Wallace Arnold. Various YRTs, also with Plaxton bodies, followed, along with Volvo B58-based models.

Mr and Mrs Porteous’s son Craig joined Alpha in the 1980s. During that decade its rapid growth began. The first new full-sized coach – a Ford R1114 with Duple Dominant IV bodywork – arrived in 1982 and that vehicle opened European operations to Alpha.

Securing contracts with tour operators in 1984 led to the arrival of further new Duple-bodied coaches in the form of a pair of Leyland Tigers. They were followed by a decision to standardise on the Volvo B10M with Plaxton bodywork. Rapid expansion from that point into the 2000s saw the purchase of a number of other local operators and diversification into bus services.

Alpha’s fleet peaked at 92 by 2002. Mrs Porteous retired in January 2006, when the business was sold to Dunn-Line. She remained a regular visitor to trade shows and other coach industry events until recent years, where she enjoyed the company of many longstanding industry friends.

Mrs Porteous leaves her son Craig, daughter Janine and grandson Lee, Mr Porteous Sr having passed away in 1998. Her funeral will take place at 1430hrs on Tuesday 18 January at Haltemprice Crematorium, Willerby, HU10 6NS. It will be followed by a gathering at the Star Inn, Willerby, HU10 6BY.