Crosville Wales



A Potted History

1986: In May the Government announced that Crosville Motor Services was to split into what was referred to as a Welsh company and an English company. However Oswestry depot, its out-stations and workings were to be part of the Welsh side. This split was to facilitate the eventual sale of the business in accordance with the policy of the government of the day which had been contained in the Transport Act 1985. This Act of Parliament was intended to bring about de-regulation and de-nationalisation of the bus industry.

1986: In May the dormant company of Devon General Omnibus & Transport Co. Limited was renamed Crosville Wales Limited and this was to become the legal entity for the new company operating in Wales and Oswestry.

1986: On 10th August 1986 Crosville Wales officially began operations. At that stage there was a fleet of 402 buses and coaches together with some 30 ancillary vehicles. There was a staff of just over 900 with about two thirds being drivers. After some consideration it was decided that the headquarters of the new company would be at Llandudno Junction using rooms above the depot which had to be vacated first by other tenants. There were 19 depots (at Aberaeron. Aberystwyth, Amlwch, Bangor, Blaenau Ffestiniog, Caernarfon, Corwen, Denbigh, Dolgellau, Holyhead, Llandudno Junction, Llangefni, Machynlleth, Mold, Newcastle Emlyn, Oswestry, Pwllheli, Rhyl and Wrexham) and 8 out-stations.

More details of these depots and outstations can be found <<HERE>>

A full historic fleet list can be found <<HERE>>

1987: Crosville Wales experienced tough competition with many local operators including such firms as Wrights of Wrexham, the newly formed company Devaway, Alpine in the Llandudno area, Express Motors in Gwynedd and many others who were able to expand their service routes during this de-regulation era. In an attempt to combat this competition Crosville Wales embarked on a policy of using numerous minibuses with both new and second hand vehicles being acquired. The principle was that these minibuses would reduce costs including paying drivers a lower rate. The plan included running these minibuses on a more frequent basis on certain services. During the two year period of 1987 and 1988 a total of 172 minibuses joined the fleet - 109 were new and 63 were second hand.

These 5 x Mercedes-Benz L608D / Reeve Burgess had 20 seats and were seen at Wrexham in 1987 shortly after delivery.

Photo courtesy Dennis Kerrison

1987: In an attempt to attract visitors onto a special service from Prestatyn and Rhyl to Betws-y-Coed a vintage Leyland Tiger was hired from its owner who had lovingly preserved it. KA27 (BFM144) had been new to Crosville in 1937. Unfortunately this service was not repeated in further years. It is believed that the vehicle did not prove reliable – not surprisingly in view of its age but there was also a reluctance by certain drivers to use this vehicle.

Leyland Tiger KA27 (BFM144) seen in July 1987 near Glan Conway

Photo courtesy Dennis Kerrison

1987: The process of selling the company from the ownership of the former nationalised National Bus Company began during 1987. There was keen interest to buy the company by a number of bodies and consortiums and at the end of the year it was announced that the purchasers, with a successful bid of £3 million, was the management team of Crosville Wales who had formed their own company named Notiontreat Limited. Thus the owners of the company became the Directors of Crosville Wales together with a number of the managers of the company. Staff were also allowed to purchase shares which some did making mainly modest investments.

1988: After just a few months of being owned by the management team the company Crosville Wales was sold in October to National Express Holdings for a reported sum of £6 million.

1988: The management of Crosville Wales were conscious about the history of the firm and with attempts to use its heritage two former half-cab double deckers were refurbished and brought back into service. One vehicle DFG27 (308PFM), which had been new to Crosville in 1960, was converted to open top and the other DFG234 (JFM234D), new in 1966, retained its roof. Initially both buses were given a special livery to celebrate ‘The White Rose Motor Services’ which was the business located in Rhyl that Crosville had purchased in 1930 to enable a base to be established in that town. The 'White Rose' liveries did not last long and the following year the two heritage buses were given a Happy Dragon green and yellow livery and they were used on the 100 service running from Conwy to Talacre.

DFG234 (JFM234D) was initially given the commemorative livery to White Rose (Photo Courtesy Dennis Kerrison)

The two heritage vehicles were later given this Happy Dragon livery when used on the 100 service from Talacre to Conwy.

DFG27 (308PFM) seen at Rhyl (Photo Courtesy Dennis Kerrison)

1989: In June the new owners, National Express, purchased a company named Amberline based in Merseyside and this was made a subsidiary of Crosville Wales. Amberline had started in 1976 at Speke in Liverpool and evolved rapidly in a number of ways including operating National Express services which they managed to acquire from Ribble. Some 55 vehicles were involved in the acquisition of Amberline. There followed some transfers of vehicles between Crosville Wales and Amberline. A small fleet of six Fiat / Carlyle minibuses left Wales for Merseyside with the Little Dragon on the sides of the bus replaced by a Liver Bird.

Former Crosville Wales MCF488 (F488EJC) at Liverpool in July 1990 now displaying a 'Liver Bird'.

(Photo courtesy of John Baker)

Coming to Wales from Amberline was a fleet of three Auwärter Neoplan N722/3 / Plaxton Paramount 4000. These double deck coaches seating 72 passengers were based at Pwllheli and used on a London service. These vehicles looked very smart but it understood that they were extremely unreliable.

CPM178 (C178KHG) former Amberline

Auwärter Neoplan N722/3 / Plaxton Paramount 4000

Photo courtesy Dennis Kerrison

1989: Crosville Wales had inherited with the split a preserved Bristol SC4LK - 782EFM which had originally been SSG612 when with Crosville Motor Services. In October 1989 the company purchased sibling 783EFM which had also been preserved after leaving Crosville. Both vehicles displayed their original 1957 fleet numbers of SC12 and SC13. This pair, sometimes called ‘the Great Little Buses of Wales’ were used at various tourist locations over the years. In the 1989 season they operated from Rhyl running a free service to Bodelwyddan Castle. In following years they worked a Conwy Valley service based at Llandudno Junction and they were also later used from Bangor running between Beaumaris and Penrhyn Castle.

Both of these Bristol SC4LKs SC12 and SC13 still exist (Photo courtesy of Dennis Kerrison)

1990: In October an unofficial strike started at Wrexham concerning pay. The company gave a deadline to the drivers concerned to return to work and when this was not met all the striking drivers were sacked. The subsequent void of services was quickly filled mainly by rival independent operators such as Wrights of Wrexham. However Crosville Wales also resumed some services by employing new drivers and by using vehicles and drivers from neighbouring depots of Mold and Oswestry. To assist with this part of the fleet of ex Hastings Mercedes Minibuses were transferred to Oswestry and a number transferred to Mold.

MMM59 (D959UDY) and MMM33 (D433UHC) at Oswestry

(Photo courtesy of Dennis Kerrison)

1991: In February an out-station of Oswestry was established in Plas Madoc. The location is today occupied by a caravan sales business and it is situated on the old road from Ruabon to Rhosymedre. The fleet of minibuses MMM33-46, 53, 56, 57, 59, 60, 182. were transferred to this depot.

1991: In March the Wrexham depot on Mold Road finally closed

1991: In July a syndicate involving the company Drawlane purchased the National Express Group thus making further changes to the ownership of the company Crosville Wales.

1991: In December due to some rationalisation within the Drawlane company the work of Oswestry depot including its out-station at Abermule was transferred to Midland Red (North). Eight double deck service vehicles all Bristol VRs transferred (DVG458/60/7/70/515/519/20/3) together with twelve Leyland Nationals (SNL559/55/60/80/7/95/6/641/2/52/62/79) and five mini-buses (MRF275/6 and MSL111-2). Midland Red (North) became the tenants of the depot at Oswald Street Oswestry but Crosville Wales remained the owner.

Oswestry depot as seen in 1983 (Photo courtesy of John Baker)

The out-station at Plas Madoc did not transfer to Midland Red and for a short while it became an out-station of Mold. However a new location was found for this out-station on the Gardden Industrial estate in Ruabon and the transfer occurred by February 1992.

1992: The ownership of Crosville Wales went though further complex changes and for a while became a direct subsidiary of Drawlane Limited. Following further changes within Drawlane Limited involving the split between the bus and express services operations the company Crosville Wales Limited became owned by British Bus plc.

1994: In late 1993 Wrights of Wrexham gave notice that they intended to close the business and they finally ceased operations in January 1995. The fierce battle with Crosville Wales had lasted for seven years and during that period the fleet of the local company rose to some 36 vehicles. The strike had enabled Wrights to expand their routes but Crosville Wales had fought back and it became clear that Wrights were not able to continually finance their expansion.

Wrights ANE1T a Leyland Titan / Park Royal

which had been new to Greater Manchester PTE

(Photo courtesy of Keith Newton)

1994: A new depot was opened at Wrexham in January located at Berse Road, Caego. This had been an operating base for British Road Services and was initially shared with them. Later in the year the Ruabon depot was closed with all vehicles and work transferred to the new Wrexham depot.

1995: In July a deal was entered with the company Hughes Bros (Llanrwst & Trefriw) Limited which traded under the name of Alpine. This firm operated in the Llandudno and North Wales coast area and had run a number of services in competition with Crosville Wales. The deal was complex and was essentially for a two year period. During that time Hughes Bros (Alpine) agreed to withdraw all of its stage carriage services and allow Crosville Wales to use the trade name Alpine. In return Crosville Wales agreed to withdraw its coaching operations in that area and also to transfer the Guide Friday tour of Llandudno that had been established. The vehicle that Crosville Wales had been using for that service - the open top HAL105 (JPL105K) was transferred to Hughes Bros.

HAL105 (JPL105K) is seen in Llandudno after the transfer from Crosville Wales.

(Photo courtesy of Dennis Kerrison)

1995: Following the 'Alpine' deal a ‘low cost’ unit was established at the Llandudno Junction depot mainly involving drivers that had transferred from Alpine. The initial vehicles chosen for this unit were minibuses MMM58/191/203/4/6 and Leyland Nationals SNL386/443/558/571/572/600. They were given a new livery of red and white with an Alpine Bus logo.

National SNL572 (JTU572T) seen in Llandudno in the Alpine Unit livery April 1996

(Photo courtesy of Dennis Kerrison)

1995: The 8th July 1995 saw the last running of the prestigious ‘Cymru Coastliner’. This service, for almost 30 years was a significant route worked on the North Wales coast. It started in September 1965 running mostly hourly from Caernarfon to Chester taking just under three and a half hours with 50 limited stops. During the period of operation by Crosville Wales it went through a number of transformations. At the time of the split in 1986 there was one vehicle working by the ‘English’ side of the company operating from the Chester Depot. However after only a few months it was fully transferred to Crosville Wales and the vehicle concerned EOG203 (B203DTU) was acquired being allocated initially to the Mold depot. In 1987 the service lost its initial service number ‘L1’ and it became the ‘X1’. Various other modifications were made with extensions of the service to such places as Porthmadog, Holyhead, Manchester Airport. Manchester Granada Studios, Chester Zoo. However none of the various attempts to expand the service was totally successful so just having marketed the celebration of 30 years of operation the service ended in 1995.

EOG211 (C211GTU) in June 1987 -(Photo courtesy of Dennis Kerrison)

CTL47 and 52 (B147/52ALG) in the Coastliner / Airliner livery September 1990

with the base Celyn Green colour - (Photo courtesy of Dennis Kerrison)

DVG514 (YMB514W) in the revised livery May 1991 (Photo courtesy of Dennis Kerrison)

CTL95 (FAZ3195) showing the '30 years' of the Coastliner logo May 1995 -

(Photo courtesy of Dennis Kerrison)

1996: With effect from the first day of 1996 Crosville Wales re-organised its working divisions to three. The East division comprised of Wrexham, Mold and Corwen. The North division was Rhyl, Bagillt, Denbigh, Llandudno Junction with Llanrwst. The West division was Bangor, Caernarfon, Pwllheli, Amlwch, Holyhead, Dolgellau, Machynlleth, Aberystwyth, New Quay and Tregaron.

1996: In August a further change of ownership occurred when British Bus plc sold out to the Cowie Motor Group.

1997: Cowie, the new owners of Crosville Wales and many other bus companies throughout the United Kingdom decided to develop a new corporate image and branding which led to the name Arriva appearing. It was decided that all of its subsidiary companies would use this name and that a new livery would be established for the whole fleet.

1997: Following the end of the Alpine two year agreement that had been entered into with Hughes Bros in Llandudno it became necessary to remove the Alpine branding. The unit continued but a new name of Shoreline was used and a new livery of blue and yellow was adopted.

Sporting the Shoreline livery is SLC33 (E33EVW) seen in Rhyl August 1997

(Photo courtesy of Dennis Kerrison)

1997: At the end of this year the first buses appeared in the Crosville Wales fleet with the new Arriva livery

One of the first buses to receive the Arriva livery was MMM981 (K981KGY)

when in November 1997 it arrived from its previous owners Kentish Bus.

(Photo courtesy of Dennis Kerrison)

1998: In March the firm that had been operating under the name of Devaway was purchased. The business was formed in August 1987 by two former Crosville staff members, Brian Randall and Paul Edward Donnelly. Their main base was at Bretton situated between Hawarden and Chester although they also had established depots in Ellesmere Port and Pontblyddyn. They had competed with Crosville Wales on a number of corridors including Chester to Mold and Chester to Deeside. Nineteen vehicles were transferred together with the depot at Bretton. This unit continued as a separate entity for a short period but in October of the following year (under Arriva) both the Bretton depot and the Mold depot were closed and a new depot opened on the Manor Park Industrial Estate in Hawarden where the integration was concluded.

104 (A104CVN ) a Ward Dalesman GTX1/ Wadham Stringer Vanguard

which came to Devaway from Darlington Transport - (Photo courtesy of Keith Newton)

1998: Also in March Crosville Wales took delivery of a fleet of 7 new Volvo Olympian / Northern Counties 73 seater deckers which were to commence service on the prestigious Route ONE from Chester to Wrexham. They arrived in Arriva livery ready for service in early April 1998.

Seen on delivery in March 1998 are five of the fleet of seven Volvo Olympians DVV234-8 (R234-8)

(Photo courtesy of Dennis Kerrison)

1998: On 2nd April the name of the company Crosville Wales Limited was changed to Arriva Cymru Limited and the process that had already started of changing the brand to Arriva was accelerated.