Crosville in Wrexham
Crosville did not have a significant impact on the bus scene of Wrexham area until the 1930s.
For the first part of the 20th Century, after the development of the motor bus, the Wrexham area was served mainly by the Wrexham and District Transport Company Limited, the Great Western Railway and a number of much smaller independent operators.
The largest of these companies started their operations as the Wrexham District Tramways Company and in 1876 commenced a horse drawn tram service from Johnstown to the outskirts of Wrexham. For a while the trams were operated by a coal merchant who rented the track from the owners. This horse drawn service ceased in 1901 and was replaced in 1903 by electrically driven trams which followed the same route, albeit the lines had been replaced and widened to a 3ft 6ins gauge.
(Wrexham and District Transport Company Limited LC8618 a Republic 20hp 14 seater)
The trams service ended in March 1927 but by then the company had changed their name to the Wrexham and District Transport Company Limited. In addition from 1913 bus services had been introduced and there was a rapid increase to the route network. The bus company became known as Transport 'Red'. A more detailed outline of the development of this company can be found <<LINK to Western Transport>>
Competition from local independent operators in the Wrexham area came initially in the form of cars and taxis that would not follow any specific timetable but they would gather at busy points such as the town centre or the railway station and would take a number of passengers to a particular area. Some operators of these cars did in fact develop regular journeys. Some of these owners of the cars later themselves purchased buses and began working on certain routes in competition to Transport 'Red'. Some of these bus companies were taken over by Crosville at a later stage but some retained their independence for a number of years.
Another large bus operator in the Wrexham area was the Great Western Railway Road Services. They kept their buses on the Wrexham General Station forecourt. Their first service was to Farndon. Competition between the railways and Transport Red became an issue and the railway company did attempt to operate some services between Wrexham and Llay later Rossett. GWR also operated in the Oswestry area and out of Corwen.
In 1930 the bus services of Transport Red and that of the GWR were merged. The name of the combined company became Western Transport Company Limited.
The final merger occurred in May 1933 when Crosville took over the operations of the new Transport Red and thus Crosville had now control over most of the bus services in north east Wales.
Along with the acquisition of Western Transport by Crosville came 132 buses. A number of these had transferred from GWR and were soon withdrawn by Crosville. Also acquired were a number of properties that were to serve Crosville for a considerable period:-
The main depot of Western Transport was at Maesgwyn Road. This had been the main workshop and office accommodation. This continued to serve Crosville until the late 1950s when it became the property of Vincent Greenhous a motor dealer. Currently it is a tyre fitter's base.
Transport 'Red' acquired part of the former Maesgwyn estate on Mold Road and in 1928 built on part of this land a small depot. However it was used mainly as overnight storage for buses. This continued under Crosville until the site was fully developed and it then became the main premises for the firm in Wrexham. It was closed in 1991 and the building were completely demolished.
The former tram depot in Johnstown was later used by Transport 'Red' as a bus depot and this continued under Crosville until 1972. For many years whilst it was being used by Crosville and also subsequently when used as a maintenance facility for the haulage firm S E Jones the remains of former tram tracks could be seen in the forecourt. It has now been demolished and houses erected on the site.
(Photo courtesy of Dennis Kerrison)
The depot established by Transport 'Red' in Oswald Street Oswestry was also used by Crosville throughout their period and the building was demolished in about 2000 with the land being used for a new Aldi Supermarket.
Over the following decade Crosville mopped up a number of the local independents including :-
January 1934 - James Rothwell (Rothwell Motor Services) of Dee Lane Holt who operated a service form Wrexham to Holt and Broxton. 5 vehicles transferred. <<LINK to Rothwell Motor Services>>
May 1935 - Joseph Price (Price's Motors) Penrhyn Garage New Broughton. In addition to local services to Caergwrle, Tanyfron, Cymau and Llay Main Colliery this firm also operated express service to Rhyl, Llandudno and Blackpool. 9 vehicles transferred and the price paid was £12,500. There does not appear to be any connection between the firm that commenced operations as T Price and Son in New Broughton which is still operating today in New Broughton. <<LINK to Price's Motors>>
January 1936 - George Roberts, Southsea, Wrexham. 6 vehicles transferred and the business was purchased for £9,500. <<LINK to George Roberts>>
June 1936 – Sarah Williams and Sons, White Hart Garage, Pentre Broughton, Wrexham who operated services from Wrexham to Pentre Broughton and 4 vehicles transferred with a price paid of £7,500. <<LINK to Sarah Williams>>
May 1938 – J R Lloyd (Height o' th' hill Bus Service), Gwynfa, Bwlchgwyn ran services from Wrexham to Bwlchgwyn and Gwynfryn. 6 buses transferred and £9,500 was paid for the business. <<LINK to Height o' the' hill>>
March 1939 – Alfred Wright (Glynceiriog Valley Bus Service) Rhosymedre. He operated service between Chirk and Glynceiriog and Llanarmon Dyffryn Ceiriog. No buses transferred and a price of £1,000 was paid. <<LINK to Glynceiriog Valley Bus Services>>
March 1940 – Charles William Shone (Is-y-Coed Motor Services), Bowling Bank, Bangor-on-Dee who operated a service from Wrexham to Bangor-on-Dee. No vehicles were transferred and a price of £700 was paid. <<LINK to Is-y-Coed Motor Services>>
During the war years of 1939 – 1945 express services and tours were suspended but 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 Royal Ordnance Factory in Marchwiel and some 200 buses were required to serve this premises. Crosville had to supplement their fleet to convey work people with loans from many other bus operators in England. To facilitate the parking of the new enlarged fleet further land at the rear of the Mold Road depot was acquired.
Crosville remained the dominant provider of bus services in the Wrexham area during the post war years. There were a number of independent operators. Some of these worked on the Wrexham to Rhosllanerchrugog (and Penycae) corridor. These operators included Williams of Rhos <<LINK to Williams of Rhos>>}, J Phillips of Rhostyllen <<LINK to Phillips of Rhostyllen>> and Wrights of Penycae. Following a very long standing agreement joint working was maintained for a considerable period giving the largest village in Wales a very frequent service involving some 7 journeys each hour into Rhos with additional journeys to Pen-y-cae. Phillips sold out the route to Crosville in 1979 although no buses were transferred. Williams ceased his service in 1986.
(Photo courtesy of Dennis Kerrison)
Prior to the 1940s there were various terminus points within Wrexham making it difficult for passengers to complete journeys involving a change of bus. Some of the places used as a terminus were Brook Street, High Street, St George's Crescent and King Street. Crosville planned to establish a major bus station on land they had purchased on the Old Vicarage site in the middle of the town . However this did not meet with the approval of the local authority and after a battle between Crosville and the Town Council a decision was taken that the new bus station would be in King Street. This was opened in the early 1950s and soon afterwards a modern building housing shops, enquiry office and staff facilities were added.
The Bus Station in Wrexham was completely re-vamped in 2003.
In September 1986 Crosville became Crosville Wales as a result of the Government's policy to de-nationalise and re-regulate the bus industry. A number of significant changes that occurred included more effective competition, a move by Crosville Wales to use a large fleet minibuses and of course a change in the fleet livery. Crosville Wales added white to their already green colour.
(Photo courtesy of Dennis Kerrison)
The main competitor to emerge in the Wrexham area was Wrights. This firm had started as far back as the 1920s and for most of their lifetime had operated a service from Wrexham to Penycae. However after the death of the founder Charlie Wright his son John Wright took the company into various new avenues. This included continental travel but also an aggressive build up of services. Competition between Wrights and Crosville Wales was fierce with retaliatory action regularly occurring. For a while, mainly due to problems of timely registering services, Wrights ran their buses without charging fares. It is believed they did ask for donations. <<LINK to Wrights>>
(Photo courtesy of Keith Newton)
The situation in Wrexham for Crosville Wales became even more difficult as there was a bitter dispute between the company and its staff. This resulted in drivers taking strike action starting in October 1990. The company responded by sacking the 120 drivers. A number of other operators picked up the services that Crosville Wales were unable to operate and a large majority of these went to Wrights.
One result of this situation was that the company closed their Mold Road depot and it was sold off. They continued to operate some services in the area mainly with the aid of other Crosville Wales depots. For a while a depot was established in Ruabon which technically was an out-station of the Mold depot.
Crosville Wales gradually recovered some of their earlier position. Wrights expansion may have been too rapid or the competition with Crosville Wales too severe especially when their attempts to complain to the Authorities were unsuccessful. John Wright gave notice at the end of 1993 that he intended to close his business and by early 1994 he had done so. John Wright moved to the Midlands and set up another company more or less from scratch. This company Thames Travel in Wallingford, Oxfordshire was very succesful and was acquired by one of the industry’s larger groups, Go Ahead, in 2011
In early 1994 Crosville Wales opened a new depot in Caego which is still the current base of the successor company Arriva Wales.