Charlie hangs up his keys

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A well known Arbroath businessman has finally decided to hang up his keys after 44 years at the helm of Riddler’s Coaches.

Charlie Riddler (72) says that the time is right to see more of the world and visit his grandchildren in Canada.

He spent his early years living in the country and attended Auldbar and Andover primary schools and Brechin High School.

On leaving school he followed in his father’s footsteps and worked on the land for a couple of years. However, his heart was not in it and he became an apprentice motor mechanic with Tayford Motors, Dundee.

He had thoughts of becoming a bus driver so gained his PSV licence and started as a driver with Greyhound Coaches, working out of Kirk Square, Arbroath.

He bought his first bus in 1969 and set up his own business, initially from a yard at Inverkeilor. He moved to his present premises in Cairnie in 1972. He bought his first new coach in 1974 and further new vehicles followed in 1977 and 1978.

Charlie said: “I have toured all over Britain and also parts of the continent. I have ferried many different organisations, from Arbroath Royal Marines, to Arbroath, Brechin, Montrose and Forfar football teams, and even Dundee United, during Jim McLean’s reign as manager.

“I have also driven pensioner outings, hen nights, weddings, birthday parties, business dances, theatre trips, swimming clubs and probably too many to remember.”

Charlie has fond memories of weekend trips to see Blackpool Illuminations, with as many as six coaches leaving Arbroath on Friday to arrive in Blackpool just after midnight, and returning on the Monday evening.

He went on: “We organised our own summer holidays and day tours for many years and they were a great success.”

He revealed that the takeover of Bean’s Coaches, in Brechin, following the death of the proprietor Kenny Bean expanded the Riddler Fleet to 14 coaches.

He paid tribute to his wife, Gwen, who he says turned her hand to many jobs, from the office to mechanic work and chauffeuring drivers to pick-up points. Another stalwart of the company was Anona Duthie, who was clerkess for 34 years but now plans to retire.

Mr and Mrs Riddler have a son, Fraser, and a daughter, Karen Robertson, who lives in Canada. There are three grandchildren.

In closing he expressed thanks to his many staff, who, he said, kept the company going.

The business and coaches have been acquired by JP Minicoaches, Forfar, and will be operated by Jock Petrie who will fulfill the Riddler contracts.