Trivia: Independent bus operators from pre 1930

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Eyersey468

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Which independent bus operators that were operating bus services pre 1930 are still running buses? For the purpose of this discussion they have to have always been independent and continously running registered bus services though not necessarily the same service. The only one I can think of is Delaine of Bourne in Lincolnshire but are there any others?
 
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cnjb8

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I guess you can say TrentBarton, albeit they were known as Trent Motor Traction back then. The Barton side of things was newer
 

Man of Kent

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Safeguard of Guildford has been a limited company since 1933, so may well have been around unincorporated since before that. Wikipedia suggests 1924.
 

Roilshead

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I thought Reliance Motor Services, Sutton-on-the-Forest, would qualify, but they only started in 1930 when they took over their York-Helmsley service from the previous operator.

Halpenny Travel, Blackrock, Co Louth, started in 1920 as "The Violet Bus Service" with a Blackrock-Dundalk service and are still going today - yes, they're based in the south of Ireland, but they enter the UK with a Dundalk-Newry service.

Northern Ireland's oldest bus operator is Yellow Line, Warrenpoint, who started-out with horse-drawn drays in 1819, before introducing a motorised Warrenpoint-Rostrevor service in 1915. Unfortunately, their business was compulsorily acquired by the Northern Ireland Road Transport Board in 1935 and - although they kept going with taxis and a funeral business - it wasn't until 1968, when there was some liberalisation of licensing, that they were able to start up again as coach operators, many years later returning to stage-carriage operation.
 

Roger1973

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White Bus Services have been running in the Windsor - Ascot patch since the 1920s, although the ownership passed from the Jeatt family to Fernhill Travel / Rowgate Group a few years ago.
 

Roilshead

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I guess you can say TrentBarton, albeit they were known as Trent Motor Traction back then. The Barton side of things was newer

Isn't TrentBarton just a trading name for Trent Motor Traction Ltd and Barton Buses Ltd? both subsidiaries of the independent Wellglade Group. The Trent side was certainly in business before 1930 but it certainly hasn't been independent for much of the intervening period, having been owned by TBAT (and BAT before), BET, THC, and NBC - surely there are common-enough acronyms that I don't need to spell them all out? - prior to privatisation. The Barton side of things has been independent since it started out in 1908, through to its sale to Wellglade in 1989. I'm assuming that as Wellglade isn't a listed company then ownership by Wellglade counts as being independent . . .
 

awsnews

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Craig of Campbeltown (West Coast Motors) who according to their website started operating their first bus service in 1921. This date is now part or their 'strapline' having replaced a later date of 1923 which had been claimed for some time.
 

GusB

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Isn't TrentBarton just a trading name for Trent Motor Traction Ltd and Barton Buses Ltd? both subsidiaries of the independent Wellglade Group. The Trent side was certainly in business before 1930 but it certainly hasn't been independent for much of the intervening period, having been owned by TBAT (and BAT before), BET, THC, and NBC - surely there are common-enough acronyms that I don't need to spell them all out? - prior to privatisation. The Barton side of things has been independent since it started out in 1908, through to its sale to Wellglade in 1989. I'm assuming that as Wellglade isn't a listed company then ownership by Wellglade counts as being independent . . .
TBAT and BAT are certainly terms which are unfamiliar to me. The rest not might not be familiar to anyone outwith the UK who may be reading the thread. The rules are there - please define your acronyms!
 

cnjb8

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Isn't TrentBarton just a trading name for Trent Motor Traction Ltd and Barton Buses Ltd? both subsidiaries of the independent Wellglade Group. The Trent side was certainly in business before 1930 but it certainly hasn't been independent for much of the intervening period, having been owned by TBAT (and BAT before), BET, THC, and NBC - surely there are common-enough acronyms that I don't need to spell them all out? - prior to privatisation. The Barton side of things has been independent since it started out in 1908, through to its sale to Wellglade in 1989. I'm assuming that as Wellglade isn't a listed company then ownership by Wellglade counts as being independent . . .
Yes, TrentBarton is a trading name for Trent Motor Traction and Barton.
I wasn't really sure to begin with, you're right in saying it definitely counts on wether you see Wellglade as independent
 

A0wen

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Seaview Services on the Isle of Wight has been around since 1922.

At one time it ran the stage carriage service to Seaview - aided AIUI by the fact they owned the toll road into the village ! But they sold the bus operation to Southern Vectis sometime in the 90s and retained the private hire business.
 

Eyersey468

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Would South West Coaches count I wonder? Although they haven't been around since 1930 they incorporated both the Wakes of Sparkford and Safeway of South Petherton businesses, both of which were around and running bus services pre 1930. They were also using the Safeway name on some coaches, though I am unsure if they still are.

Safeguard of Guildford has been a limited company since 1933, so may well have been around unincorporated since before that. Wikipedia suggests 1924.
Their website says 1924 but they are only running coaches now though

TBAT and BAT are certainly terms which are unfamiliar to me. The rest not might not be familiar to anyone outwith the UK who may be reading the thread. The rules are there - please define your acronyms!
I'm unsure about TBAT, BAT I think was British Automotive Traction (or something like that) BET was British Electric Traction Group, THC was Transport Holding Commission and NBC was the National Bus Company. Hope this clarifies things a bit.
 
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Man of Kent

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Their website says 1924 but they are only running coaches now though
Safeguard is very much a bus operator in Guildford, with three frequent local routes - 3s, 4 and 5. The s of 3s came about as a means of distinguishing it from Arriva 3, with which it briefly competed, until Arriva (the incumbent operator) gave up.
 

Roilshead

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Hornsby's, Ashby, Lincolnshire, have been operating their Ashby-Scunthorpe service since 1914.
 

daodao

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Mayne Coaches of Clayton, Manchester ran bus services mainly along Ashton New Road, from the 1920s up to 2008, when the bus division was sold to Stagecoach. It continues to exist as a coach operator, but does not quite meet the criteria of the OP.

Tanat Valley Coaches, founded 100 years ago in 1921, still runs bus services, but it is unclear when they actually started regular bus services.

Pulhams Coaches, of Bourton-on-the-Water, first started running bus services in 1927 and is still one of the main bus and coach operators in the Cotswolds.

John Leask & Son operated buses on Shetland from 1928, but ceased operating in August 2020.

Sargeants Motors Ltd of Kington was founded in the 1920s but I am uncertain as to when they started their bus services, which are still running.

Yeomans started weekly bus services in the 1920s and was running 19 stage carriage services by 1931. They are now (together with associated company Lugg Valley Motors) the main bus operator in Herefordshire.
 
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Strathclyder

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Craig of Campbeltown (West Coast Motors) who according to their website started operating their first bus service in 1921. This date is now part or their 'strapline' having replaced a later date of 1923 which had been claimed for some time.
West Coast may very well be Scotland's best contender for this thread, unless there's another company I'm completely overlooking...?
 

Eyersey468

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Hornsby's, Ashby, Lincolnshire, have been operating their Ashby-Scunthorpe service since 1914.
Oh of course, I should have remembered about this one.

Safeguard is very much a bus operator in Guildford, with three frequent local routes - 3s, 4 and 5. The s of 3s came about as a means of distinguishing it from Arriva 3, with which it briefly competed, until Arriva (the incumbent operator) gave up.
I wonder why there is no mention of the bus routes on the website.
 

Robertj21a

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Oh of course, I should have remembered about this one.


I wonder why there is no mention of the bus routes on the website.
It's certainly a well respected current operator of bus services and has been for generations.
 

TheGrandWazoo

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Would South West Coaches count I wonder? Although they haven't been around since 1930 they incorporated both the Wakes of Sparkford and Safeway of South Petherton businesses, both of which were around and running bus services pre 1930. They were also using the Safeway name on some coaches, though I am unsure if they still are.

This is one that I was thinking of.

South West Coaches is a modern name. The original business was Wakes of Sparkford and it was bought from Wakes by the Hulbert family and retained the Wakes name for a while before becoming SWC and also purchasing Safeway and Sureline. Therefore, that might be a continuation of the same business since 1930.

Also, Beestons of Hadleigh claim to be the UK's third oldest family owned operator?
 

Eyersey468

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Just to explain the significance of 1930 for the benefit of those not in the UK, that year the Road Traffic Act regulated the industry so services, fares etc had to be approved by Traffic Commissioners. Existing services were granted licences under grandfather rights.
 

DelphDonkey

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Clynnog and Trefor of Trefor, Gwynedd, have been operating continuously between Pwllheli and Caernarfon since July 1912, under the same ownership (local shareholders) for all their existence. Not far away at Pwllheli, Caelloi Motors are a continuous family-owned business started with a donkey-hauled carrier cart in 1851, and acquring their first motor bus in January 1923.
 

beermaddavep

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There were loads of small Co Durham independents of which many lasted until the late 80s to mid 90s; all gone but one survivor is Scarlet Band that celebrates its centenary this year.
In County Durham don't forget Weardale Motor Services- the Gibsons have been serving the dale since the 1920s, running pretty much the same service too. 'The Eden' of West Auckland sort of still survives, but as a resurrected independant company formed a while after the United takeover. Sadly OK, TMS, Diamond, Gyspy Queen, Wilkinsons, Armstrongs, Jolly, etc are now just memories.
 

Flange Squeal

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Oh of course, I should have remembered about this one.


I wonder why there is no mention of the bus routes on the website.
There is, but you almost have to go looking for it by scrolling down to the bottom of the front page, to find an image saying 'We're on the buses' and a link to https://www.guildfordbus.co.uk

Until 2010, Arriva and Safeguard actually jointly operated Guildford routes 3 (Bellfields) and 4/5 (Park Barn), with fully coordinated timetables and mutual ticket acceptance. It was at that time that they each took full control over routes - Arriva the 3, and Safeguard the 4/5. That lasted until 2018 when Arriva decided to start competitive route B around Park Barn after losing their access to the University grounds to Stagecoach, with Safeguard retaliating in 2019 by venturing back to Bellfields where Arriva had been upsetting the route's users for a while by using minibuses that reportedly kept filling to capacity and leaving people behind. Arriva later pulled out of Park Barn, as well as the surprise move of also quitting their established Mon-Sat service on the 3 (they continue to operate the Sunday service, as this is a county council tendered contract they already had).
 

TheGrandWazoo

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In County Durham don't forget Weardale Motor Services- the Gibsons have been serving the dale since the 1920s, running pretty much the same service too. 'The Eden' of West Auckland sort of still survives, but as a resurrected independant company formed a while after the United takeover. Sadly OK, TMS, Diamond, Gyspy Queen, Wilkinsons, Armstrongs, Jolly, etc are now just memories.
Of course, how can i forget Weardale!

The Eden has reappeared and in the same depot even, but very much different from the original.

There were so many Co Durham independents who managed to get to deregulation. Some went for expansion and were eventually bought up like TMS, Eden and OK, whilst others like Fultons, Martindales, Armstrongs, Diamond, Hunters of Tantobie, Gypsy Queen and Bond Bros seemed to carry on very much as always until someone came along with a suitable sized offer.

Not certain about Burrells (aka Barnard Castle Coaches) of Newsham who still do schools but haven't done stage work for a good few years
 

Eyersey468

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There is, but you almost have to go looking for it by scrolling down to the bottom of the front page, to find an image saying 'We're on the buses' and a link to https://www.guildfordbus.co.uk

Until 2010, Arriva and Safeguard actually jointly operated Guildford routes 3 (Bellfields) and 4/5 (Park Barn), with fully coordinated timetables and mutual ticket acceptance. It was at that time that they each took full control over routes - Arriva the 3, and Safeguard the 4/5. That lasted until 2018 when Arriva decided to start competitive route B around Park Barn after losing their access to the University grounds to Stagecoach, with Safeguard retaliating in 2019 by venturing back to Bellfields where Arriva had been upsetting the route's users for a while by using minibuses that reportedly kept filling to capacity and leaving people behind. Arriva later pulled out of Park Barn, as well as the surprise move of also quitting their established Mon-Sat service on the 3 (they continue to operate the Sunday service, as this is a county council tendered contract they already had).
Thanks
 
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