A man about to celebrate his 100th birthday shortly is still driving – despite never having passed a test.

Francis Morris, who was born on November 2, 1914, never needed to pass a test as he began driving before such things were required.

These days he says he still pops to the newsagents in his blue VW Polo to buy his Examiner as well as the occasional shopping trip.

His son Malcolm, 64, said: “He didn’t take a test to drive a car and in fact he used to ride around on a motorbike as a young man and he didn’t have one for that either. But he did actually take a another test later on as he drove buses in a career that lasted almost 40 years”.

Malcolm added: “You have to renew your licence every three years once you hit 70. You have to take an eyesight test and so on. I have just helped him fill in the forms as his three years are up on November 2.”

Francis grew up on a farm in what is a bygone era. He lived in the Midhopestones area, near Stocksbridge and left school aged just 13 when he was offered a job on another farm 14 miles away in the Sheffield area where he could hear the sound of Sheffield Wednesday fans cheering on a Saturday afternoon.

The decision meant he had to leave home at a tender age and he recalls his mother Sarah buying him a spare pair of trousers before he bid them and his five siblings farewell to make his own way in the world.

Later he went to work in Farnley Tyas before deciding he needed a change and began a lifelong career on the buses.

Life on the buses for Francis Morris
Life on the buses for Francis Morris
 

Bizarrely, in those days, you needed a licence to be a bus conductor and he began conducting before becoming a driver, inspector and a driving instructor for Huddersfield Corporation Passenger Transport.

When the Second World War broke out in 1939 he joined up with the RAF Police and was stationed in Malta and Italy. Before the outbreak of war he had started courting a young lady called Ann Thompson, known as ‘Winnie’ whom he had met on a bus when she got on every morning in Honley.

Strangely, they did not keep in touch at all during the six years of the war but they took up where they had left off – on the buses just as if nothing had happened.

100-year-old Francis Morris of Quarmby. Francis pictured in 1940
100-year-old Francis Morris of Quarmby. Francis pictured in 1940
 

Despite some strenuous objections from Winnie’s family, who were quite well-to-do, the couple got wed at St Mary’s Church, Honley, in 1946 and went on to have two children, Malcolm and Paul, 61.

Francis also has five grandchildren and five great grandchildren. After his career on the buses ended he found part-time work at Blacker Road Garage and continued with that until he was 74. His wife died in 1997 and he now lives quietly at home in Hunston Avenue, Quarmby.

Asked the secret of his longevity he replied: “Keeping busy.”

To celebrate his centenary his family have organised a party for 60 in Hepworth next month.

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All about the driving licence

UK driving licences were introduced in 1903 but no test was required

The early licences cost 5 shillings (25p)

Compulsory testing was introduced in the Road Traffic Act of 1934 but was only for those who started to drive on April 1 of that year and later

Today’s driving theory test was brought in 1996 and that must be passed before a practical test can be taken

In 1939 there were just 3m drivers in the UK; now there are an estimated 27m