Crosville in the Mold, Holywell and Deeside area
For over 100 years Crosville and its successors (Crosville Wales and Arriva Cymru) have been the largest operator of buses in north East Wales.
The firm of Crosville, which was initially formed in 1906, did not start as a bus business. The company of Crosville Motor Company Limited was formed with the intention of manufacturing motor cars. The name Crosville was derived from part of the family name Crosland and from the name George de Ville who was a French associate. The car manufacturing business was not a success and the firm concentrated on repairs and maintenance of cars and boats at their premises in Crane Wharf Chester.
Crosville involvement with running buses started in earnest in February 1911 when they began operating a service from Chester to Ellesmere Port. The plans to run buses started a few years earlier but the initial buses they purchased were not totally successful and it also took a year or so to gain the necessary approval to run the service.
Further services in Cheshire were operated and a number of businesses in that area were purchased.
<<Link to CROSVILLE TIMELINE>>
Crosville began running into North East Wales during World War 1 when they supplied transport to the munitions factory in Queensferry. This service was under the direct control of the Ministry of Munitions.
In July 1918 Crosville obtained a licence to operate a public service from Chester Market Square which ran through Mollington and Great Saughall to Connah's Quay.
Crosville started working in the Mold area during 1919. Prior to the Great War of 1914 – 1918 the railway company London and North Western Railway Company <<LINK to LandNWR page>> not only had a good network of rail services they also established a fleet of buses running services between Mold and Connah's Quay, Mold and Holywell, Mold to Llanferres and Mold to Buckley. However all these services stopped on the outbreak of the war with all of the buses being commandeered. After the war the railway company did not re-commence bus services and a vacuum was created which Crosville was able to fill.
Seen at Northop outside the Red Lion is the Milnes-Daimler
L & N W R No1 - LC1306
After some initial problems getting the appropriate permission a service was started by Crosville in February 1919 running a circular service in both directions passing from Mold to Buckley, Hawarden, Queensferry, Connah's Quay, Flint and Northop. A second service was started very shortly afterwards from Mold to Pentre Halkyn. This service expanded to become another circular service in both directions this one visiting Northop, Pentre Halkyn, Holywell, Greenfield, Bagillt and Flint.
(Timetable produced courtesy of Flintshire Record Office)
After a delay due to problems of Crosville failing to obtain a suitable bus, in July 1919 a service began which ran from Mold to Loggerheads and also from Mold to Ruthin.
Believed to have been the first bus to work the Mold - Loggerheads - Ruthin Service -
Crosville No 15 FM 1092 seen outside the We Three at Loggerheads probably in 1919
To provide the Mold based services a depot was established. Initially in 1919 this was located at the rear of the Victoria Hotel in Chester Street, Mold. This premises is currently a dentist and the garage at the rear was until recently part of the auction rooms of K Hugh Dodd. It was conveniently located near to the Railway Station (now Tesco). A small office was located here and it was also the starting point for the services run. A few years later in 1923 a purpose built depot was constructed at Ponterwyl (recently Homebase and now a branch of B&M Stores) and this depot was used for over 75 years until Arriva moved their garage to Manor Park in Hawarden.
An early view of the Crosville depot in Ponterwyl. Mold opened in 1923
By 1923 the services run by Crosville included :-
Chester to Connah's Quay
Chester to Mold
Chester to Higher Kinnerton
Chester to Greenfield (timed to connect with the White Rose service to Rhyl)
Mold to Holywell
Mold to Flint (circular via Buckley, Hawarden, Queensferry, Shotton, Connah's Quay)
Mold to Denbigh (timed to connect with the White Rose service to Rhyl)
Holywell to Queensferry
Holywell to Denbigh
Mold to New Ferry (via Buckley, Ewloe Green, Queensferry, Ledsham, Hooton and Bromborough)
(Photo courtesy of David Rowe)
In 1926 Crosville acquired land at the Loggerheads Estate and established a tea rooms and band stand. This further promoted visitors to the site and special services began bringing passengers from Liverpool, Warrington, Widnes, Runcorn, Frodsham, Speke, Chester, Wallasey, Liscard, Newcastle-under-Lyme, Crewe, Nantwich and Northwich, some by connection, others directly. <<LINK to further information on Loggerheads and Crosville>>
In addition to Crosville a number of individuals ran bus services in the area. A number of these businesses would involve taxi work and also the general haulage of goods. In fact very often the vehicles would be used for more than one purpose.
One such operator was Reginald Jenkinson of Berwyn Garage Buckley. A full account of this business is at <<LINK to page on Reginald JENKINSON>>. This business ran routes from Buckley to various locations including :-
Mold, Mold Alun School, Connah's Quay, Chester Infirmary and Queensferry.
Apparently there was fierce competition on these routes with Crosville. However in September 1934 Reginald agreed to sell his business to Crosville. Three buses transferred and his staff of drivers and conductors also went to work for Crosville. Reginald retained a number of cars used as taxis and his garage which also sold petrol.
Another business that sold its buses and routes to Crosville was Jones Motor Services in Flint This business was known locally as 'Jones the Oil'. Six vehicles went to Crosville in June 1936. A more detailed story of this business which actually ran until 2018 is to be found at <<LINK to page on Jones Motor Services>>.
Other business who sold to Crosville included :-
Harold Roberts of Breeze Hill, Connah's Quay ran a service between Flint and Sandycroft. In July 1936 £5,250 was paid for the business and 7 buses were transferred to Crosville. <<LINK to page on Harold Roberts>>
E Richards (Crowther and Company) of Kingsway Shotton also operated a service between Flint and Sandycroft and he sold his business in January 1937 for £5,000. Four buses transferred to Crosville. <<LINK to page on Crowther>>
Harold Stanley, Willow Garage, Buckley Common had routes from Buckley to Shotton and from Mold to Llay Main Colliery. He sold to Crosville in March 1939 and received £3,000. Only one bus transferred. <<LINK to page on Harold Stanley>>
One of the significant firms that continued to remain independent was Phillips of Holywell. Their principal route was between Mold and Holywell and after a period of competition with Crosville an arrangement took place and for a number of years there was joint working of this service. <<Link to PHILLIPS of Holywell>>
Photo showing E H Phillips with his ex Manchester Crossley Condor VU6292 -
(courtesy Rob Richardson)
In 1937 a second depot in the area was established by Crosville at Coleshill Road, Flint. Initially the intention was to build this near the Flint Railway Station but this proved not to be possible. The Flint depot closed in 1981 and for a while a relationship emerged with Phillips of Holywell and some buses were kept at their Holywell premises. Interestingly as part of these arrangements Phillips were able to acquire four ex Crosville vehicles which they soon painted into their red livery. Later premises in Bagillt was used as a local base for Crosville buses.
(Flint depot in 1981 - photo courtesy John Baker)
During the war years there was a concentration by Crosville on conveying work people to the various factories that were producing essential products. One of the significant ones in this area was the Vickers Armstrong aircraft factory in Broughton. Express services and tours were suspended during this period. Crosville had to supplement their fleet to convey work people with loans from many other bus operators in England.
Following the second world war Crosville maintained their position as the main provider of bus services in this area. There were other independent operators in existence in the area but these firms either concentrated on private hire or conveying work people to various factories. The largest of these firms in the area was the firm P and O Lloyd that was established in 1927. Their fleet was characterised by the vast amount of ex-municipal double deck vehicles that were used to convey work-people to places such as the various Courtauld's factories in the area and the Shotton Steelworks known at the time as John Summers. <<LINK to P and O Lloyd>>
During the 1950s 60s and 70s Crosville were very much the dominant provider of bus services in the area. Mold and Flint depots being the main bases in the area. During this period most buses in the fleet were built by Bristol with bodies by Eastern Coach Works.
(Seen passing the Post Office in Mold EMG343 a Bristol MW6G)
(Seen in High Street Mold DFB199 DFM201C a Bristol FLF / ECW)
In the area during 1986 significant changes began affecting Crosville and the bus and coach industry generally. The Transport Act of 1985 had brought about de-regulation of the bus industry with the intention of creating better competition of bus services which could have been to the advantage of various independent operators. The second element of the new legislation was to bring about privatisation of the nationalised bus companies. To facilitate this Crosville was split and the operations in Wales came under a different company 'Crosville Wales Limited'. Buses were soon given the new logos and there was a process where the buses turned from their former green colour to a green and white livery.
One major change to the way services were operated by Crosville Wales was the use of mini-buses. Until this period Crosville had concentrated on using full size buses but economy and convenience was seen in providing smaller capacity vehicles. In addition to saving in fuel there was also savings in wages paid as drivers were paid a lower rate for these types of buses.
(Photo courtesy of Dennis Kerrison)
Some local services were lost by Crosville to independent local operators. P and O Lloyd and Oare's of Holywell <<LINK to Oare's of Holywell>> being the first beneficiaries.
Two new operators appeared on the scene. Ironically they had a common factor in that their proprietors were ex Crosville employees. The first of these was Devaway in 1986 which grew to a fleet of well over 20 vehicles with depots at Bretton, Ellesmere Port and Pontybodkin. <<LINK to page on Devaway>>. Devaway were purchased by Crosville Wales in March 1998 and 19 buses were transferred together with the depot at Bretton.
(Photo courtesy of Keith Newton)
The second firm was Townlynx established in 1996 who started with a route between Mold and Flint. This firm still trades today <<LINK to Townlynx>>.
(Photo courtesy of Richard Turner)
In April 1998 the name of the operating company Crosville Wales Limited was changed to Arriva Cymru Limited thus ending the era of Crosville in the area.