A Potted History of Crosville
1906 – The company Crosville Motor Company Limited was formed by George Crosland Taylor – mainly with the intention to assemble cars in association with Frenchman Georges Ville. The name was derived from the name Crosland and Ville. This business was not totally successful, so the business developed into general motor car and boat maintenance. (There is a page on this website that details the members of the family that made a significant contribution to the success of Crosville at <<Crosland Taylor Family>>
1911 - The start of the first bus service from Chester to Ellesmere Port occurred on 2nd February George Crosland Taylor had been encouraged to diversify the business into passenger transport by his office manager. It took over twelve months to source suitable vehicles and obtain the necessary permissions to start the service.
1913 – by this time the bus fleet numbered five and the Ellesmere Port service was extended to New Ferry and a new service from Chester to Kelsall had been started.
1914-1918 – During the Great War the activities of the company continued.
Crosville under the direction of the Ministry of Supply provided buses to facilitate the workers travelling to the new munitions factory in Queensferry from Mold and Flint districts.
Crosville began their expansion into the mid Cheshire areas of Nantwich and Crewe. The business of retired railwayman John Gregory of Crewe was acquired together with his steam buses, although it is not clear as to whether these buses were ever used by Crosville. Services were established running between Nantwich and Crewe, Crewe and Middlewich and later the town services within Crewe. These latter services were obtained when the business of Ward Brothers (Crewe) Limited was acquired.
The initial base for operations in the Nantwich and Crewe area was the Victoria Cocoa House Yard in Pillory Street, Nantwich but a new depot was built in Station Road Nantwich by 1915.
1919 – Crosville started routes around Mold with a temporary depot at the rear of the Victoria Hotel in Mold very near the Railway Station.
1920 – The company began a period of running buses in Devon. A chance meeting occurred when the Crosland family were on holiday in north Devon with Captain Shiers, a manager of a local firm which had previously operated horse drawn coaches, . This resulted in the family investing and forming a company Colwills (Ilfracombe) Limited to operate buses in that area. The name of the company was derived from a former horse bus service 'Colwill's Greys'. Initially buses were transferred from the Crosville fleet to run the service from Ilfracombe to Barnstaple. A second company was formed - Croscol's Limited to operate from Tiverton and a service began in 1921 running from Tiverton to Dulverton. A second service from Tiverton to Exeter followed. These ventures into the south west were not a great success and by the end of 1924 the family ceased their interest in these companies.
1923 – Mold depot was opened. Having initially operated from the rear of the Victoria Hotel in Mold a new purpose built depot was constructed at Ponterwyl (recently Homebase) and this depot was used for over 75 years until Arriva moved their garage to Manor Park in Hawarden. The building was demolished shortly afterwards.
1924 – Crosville had started services on the Wirral and had opened a depot in West Kirby in 1923. One business that Crosville found to be a major competitor was Johnny Pye of Heswall who had built up a number of services in the area. Paying a massive £25,000 (including £7,500 in shares) the business of Pye was purchased. Some 20 buses transferred and also acquired in the sale was a large parcel of land in the middle of the town. Shortly afterwards a depot and a bus station were erected on this land. Today there is a pub standing at this location of the former depot near the bus station and it has the name 'Johnny Pye'. Johnny went on to run a coach and bus company in Colwyn Bay which he and his family ran until 1965.
1925 – The purchase of the business of George E Richards who traded as Busy Bee Motors of Caernarfon occurred in November. This made a significant in-roads to capture routes around Caernarfon. The businesses of A & R Motors of Criccieth, J Lewis Owens of Caernarfon, Cynfi Motors of Deiniolen were taken over shortly afterwards.
1929 – The Railway companies such as LMS (London Midland Scottish) were losing passengers to road traffic and began a programme of entering into the road passenger business by purchasing existing large companies. After some lengthy negotiations LMS purchased the company Crosville Motor Company Limited for £398,750 and Claude Crosland Taylor, (son of the founder), became the Manager of the new business. The Crosville name was retained and the logo LMS Crosville was used.
1929 – The new business continued the campaign of take-overs to increase the network of routes. The businesses of Mona Maroon (Holyhead Motors Limited) and William Webster who traded as UNU ('U Need Us') of Llangefni and Caernarfon were purchased. These were significant purchases. Both firms had a wide network of routes in Anglesey and Caernarfonshire and in the case of Mona Motors the price paid was £26,500 with 19 vehicles transferring. UNU's purchase price was £32,500 with 22 vehicles transferring. UNU had developed some express services to the Merseyside area and these became the forerunner of Crosville's coastal express services.
1930 (May) - After only a year of operating under the logo of 'LMS – Crosville' a complex agreement took place between the railway companies and the two major U.K. bus holdings. This resulted in a new company being formed - Crosville Motor Service Limited and this was the company that was to the run the business for a further 60 years. Claude Crosland Taylor was retained as General Manager thus the family connection remained.
1930 (May) - Discussion for the takeover of White Rose in Rhyl commenced during 1929 by what was then LMS Crosville. It culminated in the purchase of Brookes Brothers Motors Limited (White Rose Motor Services) resulting in Crosville being able to take control over most of the bus services in the Rhyl, Prestatyn and Denbigh area. The takeover took effect on the same day as the new Crosville company came into being and it marked a great start to the further expansion of the bus network in that area. With the purchase came 87 buses and coaches, four depots (Albion Garage and Crescent Road) in Rhyl, Sandy Lane in Prestatyn and Lenten Pool in Denbigh. Also included was the land and buildings that were being for the Bus Station in Rhyl High Street. <<LINK to White Rose / Brooke Bros>>
1930 (August) - The first of two very significant purchases to obtain control of bus and coach operations in Llandudno was the takeover of North Wales Silver Motors Limited of Llandudno. The purchase price was £18,000 and 27 vehicles transferred
1931 (February) - To complete the stronghold in the 'jewel' of the north Wales coast the business of Llandudno Coaching and Carriage Co Ltd (Royal Blue) was acquired. In addition to a considerable number of routes around Llandudno due to takeovers of other companies Royal Blue operated many routes from Bangor. The depots obtained included what became the main coach station in Oxford Road, Llandudno and the depot at Glan y Môr Road, Llandudno Junction which became the headquarters for Crosville Wales in later years. Royal Blue also had depots in Llanrwst, Bangor, Beaumaris and Llangefni. 80 vehicles transferred
1933 (May) - The acquisition of Western Transport Company Limited was possibly the last significant piece of the jig saw to ensure the presence of Crosville over the whole of north Wales. << LINK to Western Transport>> At the time of the acquisition Western Transport was owned by the railway company GWR (Great Western Railways) and its territory had extended from Wrexham to Ellesmere, Oswestry and along the Dee valley to Corwen and Dolgellau. This acquisition was enabled by a share transfer without any cash being paid. 133 buses transferred together with the Wrexham depots at Maesgwyn Road and Mold Road and also the depots at Johnstown and Oswestry.
1935 - Claude Crosland Taylor died on 31st March 1935 at the young age of 45 following a short illness. He was the son of the founder of Crosville and had been at the head of the company since his father's death in 1923. Even though the company had been owned by the Railways and were now part of a nationally owned group Claude had remained at the helm of Crosville throughout. However on Claude's death his brother James was appointed as General Manager and therefore the family's reign continued. <<Further details of the Crosland Taylor family here>>
1939 – 1945 - Not surprisingly, shortly after the outbreak of war, most express services and all tours were suspended. Whilst in a number of areas demand for passenger transport declined but in other areas there was a steep increase. Due to its location North Wales became the area where new factories were built and developed to aid the war effect. Also the North Wales coast was used by numerous Government Departments who evacuated their staff from London and other cities. The Royal Ordnance factory in Marchwiel, the Vickers Armstrong factory in Broughton were ones in particular that required a massive amount of workers who needed transport to convey them to their work place. During the period Crosville were able to call upon various other bus companies to provide loans of about 225 buses. The Company was able to purchase over 50 new buses during the hostilities with also a number of second hand vehicles. New staff were employed during the period and at one stage approximately 70% of conductors were female. In certain areas precautions were taken by not storing too many buses in one single location and there was not too many losses of vehicles despite there being hits at Crewe, Liverpool and Rock Ferry depots.
1945 - A decision was taken in 1945 to change the livery of the bus fleet to Tilling green. The change to green arose from the fact that in 1942 there had been a change in the financial control of the company. Crosville had moved from being managed by BET (British Electric Traction) to that of the Tilling Group. Initially that did not have an effect to outsiders. However the Tilling Group dictated various new policies bringing about a certain amount of standardisation. One of these requirements was that vehicle liveries had to be either red or green.
During the involvement of Crosville with LMS the livery had been maroon. Prior to the maroon livery the main livery was grey , although there had been a short period when it was actually red. During the initial stages of the company the brand name was used of 'Crosville Grey'.
1948 (January) - After the war the Labour Government introduced the Transport Act 1947 which set up the British Transport Commission. This then resulted in Crosville, which was part of the Tilling Group being state owned. Initially the nationalisation of the company did not have a major effect on the travelling public. One of the long term effects of nationalisation and being part of the Tilling Group was that for a number of years almost all the new buses purchased were manufactured by the Bristol Commercial Vehicles company with the bodywork undertaken by Eastern Coach Works (ECW) at Lowestoft.
1958 - From March 1958 new vehicles joining the fleet were allocated a new system of fleet numbers. Over a number of months during 1958 the fleet numbers of the rest of the fleet were also changed. A few vehicles about to leave the fleet were not re-numbered. The new system comprised of three letters followed by a number in the range of 1-999. The first letter indicated the use (or body type) of the vehicle, the second letter was a code relating to the chassis type and the third letter the engine type.
From the period of 1935 to 1958 the system in use comprised of one letter and then up to three numbers. The initial letter was a code to determine the type of vehicle.
The first method of identifying vehicles at the start of Crosville was the use of names. However only some eight names were allocated. Crosville next used a sequential numbering system. However numbers were re-allocated on numerous occasions following the withdrawal of vehicles and this proved to be a complex system to follow.
1959 - From 5th July 1959 the service numbers changed from a numerical system to an alpha numerical system. The first element of the route number was a letter which signified the area of operations. Immediately previous to this change route numbers were grouped according to the operational division of the company. A problem with this system was the limitation within the 100 numbers available to a particular area. Suffixes were utilised but it was not possible to show the full service number in the standard 3 track destination display. It has to be said that prior to the company coming within the structure of Tilling the destination display on Crosville vehicles was not particularly a quality provision and the firm was renowned for using what were called 'Widd' Boards or Indicators that were printed displays placed behind a 'T' frame on the front window of buses. Most of these being half cab buses and therefore not easy to read.
1959 - On 31st December 1959 James Crosland Taylor retired as General Manager and as a Director of Crosville. This brought to an end the involvement of the family in directing the activities of Crosville. <<Further details of the Crosland Taylor family here>>
1961 - On 27th May 1961 Crosville took over the Llandudno and Colwyn Bay Electric Railway Limited. This company had operated trams from Llandudno to Old Colwyn. Crosville had previously entered into agreements with the tramway during the 1930s. The Trams ceased with the last tram running on 24th March 1956. The Tram company decided that they would continue with the service and purchased a fleet of second hand buses. The first batch were war built Guy Arabs from Southdown Motor Services. Competition with Crosville was fierce and it did not help that the buses used by the tram company suffered from their age. No buses or any other assets were transferred when the tram company gave up. A payment of £40,000 was made by Crosville for the 'goodwill'. Crosville incorporated the former tramway services into its M17-18 route and later there was the inevitable increase in fares.
1965 - On 5th September 1965 Crosville commenced the L1 'Cymru Coastliner' which was a limited stop service running from Chester through to Caernarfon. This was a journey that took just under three and a half hours in each direction. A variety of vehicles were used on this prestigious service including Bristol RE coaches, Bristol FLF double deck buses with dual purpose luxury seating and a dedicated space at the rear of the lower deck for luggage.
1969 – This was the year that the National Bus Company (NBC) came into existence. Whilst Crosville had been part of the Tilling Group, which was nationalised in 1948, many of the other large operators in the UK had been part of the British Electric Traction group which remained in private hands. However in 1967 BET sold their bus operations to the Government. Therefore the purpose of the NBC was to manage all the nationalised bus companies working outside London and municipal areas. The NBC saw changes to corporate identity with what was known as the 'double n' sign being incorporated into all the branded names.
Various national strategies were introduced including :-
Standardisation of vehicles purchased,
The re-organisation of areas being operated by certain companies,
Coordination of express services resulting in the the brand 'National' later 'National Express' appearing.
A new company and brand was also introduced of National Holidays.
1971 - February 1971 saw the opening of the Runcorn Busway that had been described as the first fully segregated bus transit system in Europe. The trackway served this new town complex and was extended in April 1975 and May 1977. It is only capable of being worked by single deck vehicles. For a while Crosville operated buses with a distinguishing livery of green with orange and designated the routes with a prefix of 'T'.
1972 - From 4th March 1972 (officially 1st January) saw part of the re-organisation of the NBC (National Bus Company). Crosville took over the former North Western depots of Northwich, Macclesfield and Biddulph. 124 buses and coaches transferred including 5 brand new Bristol REs which had been ordered by North Western and were delivered directly to Crosville. Most of the these North Western vehicles were soon painted into Crosville livery from their former red based colour.
1972 - Also as a result of the NBC re-organisation Crosville took over the former Western Welsh depots in New Quay and Newcastle Emlyn. 11 buses transferred all of which were Leyland Tiger Cubs. In addition the former South Wales Transport out-station at Lampeter together with two AEC Reliances were transferred. This out-station had in fact been operated only four months earlier by Western Welsh.
1979 - On the 1st June 1979 a service '700' between Bangor and Cardiff was introduced and was named 'TrawsCambria'. It was operated jointly with Western Welsh. The following year in 1980 the network was expanded with a route '701' between Rhyl and Cardiff. This branding was used on a number of services across Wales until 2010 when the branding was replaced by 'TrawsCymru'.
1980 – The National Bus Company commissioned the Market Analysis Projects (MAP) which began as a complex data gathering exercise involving such things as surveys conducted on existing passengers, operational performance and the costs being incurred. After detailed analysis by computer systems using new technology from 1980 changes began to be made to the network.
One of the results of the MAP exercise saw regional branding such as :-
Mid -Cheshire, Trans-Port (Ellesmere Port area), Wrexham (with a distinctive logo), Bws Llyn and de Cambria.
Some rationalisation of services occurred mainly further cuts in the routes provided. In a number of cases this resulted in some local independent operators taking over some of these services.
1985 – In October 1985 the Transport Act 1985 was introduced by the Conservative Government which had two main provisions for the bus industry. The first was to privatise the National Bus Company which of course included Crosville. The other provision was to de-regulate the operation of bus services
1986 – In early 1986 the Secretary of State, to facilitate the future privatisation of Crosville, required that the company be split into two. He prescribed that the division should in essence separate the Welsh side of the business from the English side. The exception being that Oswestry was to be on the Welsh side.
The process began quickly and the assets of the Welsh side were transferred to a company Crosville Wales Limited. Strictly speaking this was not a new company as it was a previously dormant company of Devon General Omnibus and Touring Company Limited that had its name changed. The English side continued to trade under the company name of Crosville Motors Services Limited.
1986 - By 10th August 1986 the operations of services in Wales and Shropshire were fully transferred to the company Crosville Wales Limited.
1989 - On 25th November 1989 :-
The vehicles and depots of Congleton, Macclesfield, Rochdale and Bredbury passed to Beeline Buzz Company Limited.
The vehicles and depot of Crewe passed to Midland Red (North) Limited
The vehicles and depots of Runcorn and Warrington depots passed to North Western Road Car Company Limited
1990 - On 27th January 1990 the vehicles and depot of Northwich depot passed to North Western Road Car Company Limited.
On 3rd February 1990 the vehicles and depots of Chester, Rock Ferry, West Kirby and Ellesmere Port depots passed to PMT Limited.