Traditional independent bus operators

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martinsh

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Following on from the “unchanged bus routes” thread, I was wondering how many traditional independent bus operators there were left. Although we have lost a few recently like Epsom Coaches, Felix, Hedingham & District and Longstaffs , there are still quite a few if you know where to look. Listed below are a dozen that I can think of offhand, covering most of the country. [ Unfortunately I can’t think of any in Scotland ]

Castleways, Winchcombe – Winchcombe to Cheltenham since 1971
Chambers, Bures – Colchester to Bury St Edmunds since 1920s
Clynnog & Trefor, Trefor – Caernarfon to Pwllheli since 1913
Delaine, Bourne – Bourne to Peterborough since 1925
Fishwicks, Leyland – Leyland to Preston since before 1930
Hulleys, Baslow – a bit complicated but Chesterfield – Bakewell since before 1930
Pennine, Gargrave – routes in Skipton area since 1925
Proctors, Hanley - share of Hanley to Leek via Werrington since 1922
Reliance, Sutton on Forest – Easingwold to York since 1930s
Richards Borthers, Cardigan – routes in west Wales since 1950s
Safeguard, Guildford – local routes in Guildford since 1927
Yarrantons, Eardiston – Tenbury Wells to Worcester since “god knows when”

I’m sure there are others – can you think of any ?

To classify as a “traditional independent”, operators must have been running bus services since before 1980 - preferably the same route(s). And the longer they have been in business the better.
 
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Ivo

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How old does a company have to be to qualify?

I note you have one from 1971. Stephenson's of Essex (formerly Stephenson's Coaches), based in Rochford, have been running since the mid-60s, and if anything are expanding their portfolio. They now run contracted services in and around several towns in Essex, as well as some school services, a fair few on the Dengie Peninsula (Southminster etc), several "minor" routes from Maldon and Witham, and also the odd route in and around Southend.

These days they are probably best known for the annual Southend Heritage Running Day, which falls on New Year's Day (when otherwise only the X30 to Stansted Airport operates). This year it had additional feeder services from as far away as Aldgate.
 

Nym

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EYMS Springs to mind for some reason...

1926 started out as a merger, then went through a few hands until becoming EYMS Group in privatisation. Now owning Finglands that has many cast offs I remember working the services around Hull when they were NEW!

Stagecoach work the other way round to Finglands, Hull get's Manchester's cast offs ;)
 

Eagle

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Damory (formerly spelt d'Amory) in Blandford? Been going for god knows how long, but can't properly claim to be independent as Go-Ahead bought it in 2003 (and it effectively operates as part of Wilts and Dorset now).
 

causton

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Would you count my local bus company, Uno?

http://www.unobus.info

They are owned by the University of Hertfordshire (as their name suggests a little bit, or rather their old name Universitybus) but are not owned by any national bus company.

Probably best well known for buying Centrebus' St Albans operation and revamping and improving it with new branding and recently, even more new buses to provide a frequency increase on just about all local St Albans routes!
 

MCR247

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Would Trent Barton count? Although it was founded in 1989, it was a merger of Trent buses and Barton. Barton have been around since 1908!
 

trentside

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Some local ones from my area;

Hornsby Travel, based in Scunthorpe, have been going since 1914.
Hunts of Alford, trading since 1930 - just celebrated their 80th anniversary.
Fowlers of Holbeach Drove have been going since the late 1940s.
Grayscroft, based in Mablethorpe since 1924
Travel Wright, or Wrights of Newark, established in 1926.
Skills of Nottingham, established in 1919

It should be noted that the Delaine can trace its history back to 1890 - though that was the provision of a horse and cart service transporting people to market days in Bourne!
 

martinsh

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Some local ones from my area;

Skills of Nottingham, established in 1919
Do Skills still run local bus services ?
--- old post above --- --- new post below ---
Would you count my local bus company, Uno?
They are an independent, but I don't think they've been going long enough.
--- old post above --- --- new post below ---
How old does a company have to be to qualify?
1980 - see original post.

N.B. former NBC subsidiaries don't count !
 

Yew

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Johnson Bros. do lots of school work in mansfield, alongside more coachy stuff. Wether they count as a 'bus operator' is slightly questionable though..
 

Rhydgaled

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Don't know how old they are, but (along with Richards Bros which you already have) there are quite a few operators round here who I think are independant:

Morris Travel (Carmarthen based I think, together with Richards Bros they are the only company to run into Cardigan 6 days a week, I'm pretty sure Arriva and First no longer go to Cardigan at all).
Midway Motors, midway between Hermon and Crymych (I think they don't run many bus services these days though, just once a month/week type stuff to my knowlage)
Silcox Coaches (down in Haverfordwest/Pembroke area)
Edwards Bros (Tiers Cross, nearish Haverfordwest)
Mid Wales Travel (up near Aberystwyth somewhere)
Lewis Coaches, Llanrhystud (south of Aberystwyth), I believe they now have a share of Bwcabus with Richards Bros
Lloyds Coachs, Machynlleth
 

trentside

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Do Skills still run local bus services ?
No, only school contracts now - though I think they also run a free shuttle for the University of Nottingham to an outlying hall of residence. The remainder I posted are still providing local bus services.
 

aformeruser

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Dobsons Buses Limited of Wincham near Northwich have been a registered bus operator since 1975. I don't know if they have any routes which they've operated since then as it seems to be almost all school and college routes they operate now.

What about council operated bus operators like Warrington, Halton and Blackpool, do they count?
 

beermaddavep

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Only a few companies running stage services uninterrupted I can think of in north east England-

Scarlet Band- been on the go for 90+ years or so?

Weardale motor services- also very long established.

Not sure about John Smiths in the Thirsk area- an old established company but may have been a late comer to stage services.

Wright Brothers of Alston go back a while too, also Rothbury motors to the early 70s.

The list of old established companies taken over is a fair bit longer.......
 

trentside

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The list of old established companies taken over is a fair bit longer.......
Yes, around here it could go on for quite sometime. The most recent was Kimes of Folkingham, which sold out to Centrebus last year - they'd been trading since 1945, but had become an employee owned company over their last decade or so of independence. Other established Lincolnshire names that have dissapeared in the last decade or so include Elseys of Gosberton (to Translinc), Reliance of Great Gonerby (to MASS, then Centrebus) and Appleby's of Conisholme (went bust, divided between Amvale and MASS - the latter now also defunct in Lincs).
 

trentside

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Just a footnote to this, Chambers of Bures can now be removed from the 'independent' list - as the operator has become the latest East Anglian company to join the Go-Ahead group.
 

Ivo

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Just a footnote to this, Chambers of Bures can now be removed from the 'independent' list - as the operator has become the latest East Anglian company to join the Go-Ahead group.
Source

Are they just buying anyone and everyone they feel like or something? Or are they perhaps trying to get a foothold in the area ready for a larger assault on a more prominent company (Ipswich maybe?).

The Chambers website claims that they are "the oldest bus company in the UK", having been formed in 1877. Is anyone able to verify this claim? Either way, that's a lot of horse food (and manure) to deal with, prior to other methods becoming available.
 

Deerfold

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Possibly Britain's oldest extant bus company (I'm sure London's first buses appeared in the 1820s or '30s, for instance).
The London General Omnibus Company was founded in 1855 so that's older than Chambers. There was a break in existence before the more recent London General.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/London_General_Omnibus_Company

George Shilibeer started operating in 1829:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Shillibeer

People were worried back then if this vehicle was just too big for the streets of London.
 

Welshman

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Mention should also be made of

Caelloi Motors of Pwllheli.

They claim to be Britain's oldest independent, going back to 1851, and in addition to tours and private hire work, they also provide 1 bus to Arriva's 2 on the route No. 3 from Pwllheli to Porthmadog.
 
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