The Encyclopaedia of Plymouth History
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The earliest known operator of a motor bus service in Plymouth was the Plymouth Motor Company. In 1900 they were running a service from Salisbury Road to the Plymouth Market but it did not survive very long.
When Mr William Mumford died in March 1959 it was stated that he had started the first motor bus service to Crownhill in 1908, using a De Dion Bouton vehicle.
While the outbreak of the Great War interrupted any further growth of motor bus services, it also provided a catalyst for the massive expansion of services once the War had ended. Many demobilised troops returned home to find that their jobs had been taken over by women. They had to find new employment opportunities.
When the military services sold off their redundant lorries, many old soldiers bought them and started their own carrier businesses. From this evolved the country bus service, where wooden benches were placed in the backs of the lorries and passengers as well as goods carried to the nearest town. It would appear that this was how the motor bus service run by Mr C H Took from Tamerton Foliot started. It is not clear whether Messrs Sharpe & Company, whose Sanfairyann Bus Service ran from Plymouth to Crownhill and Roborough, or Mr A E Peachey, who ran from Honicknowle into Plymouth, were also one of these enterprises.
One independent operator who does not appear to have started in that way but dates from either 1914 or just after the end of the Great War was the Pioneer Saloon Buses of Mr Ambrose Facey at Tamerton Foliot.
Plymouth Corporation Tramways Department started to run motor buses in 1920. They quickly expanded their services as they purchased more vehicles.
Next on the scene was the Devon Motor Transport Company Ltd. In April 1922 their motor bus service from Okehampton to Tavistock was extended through to Plymouth. This evidently annoyed the Embankment Motor Company (Plymouth) Ltd and in 1923 they started a motor bus service from Plymouth to Buckland Monachorum and Dousland in competition.
At around the same time Palace Motors started running motor buses from Plymouth to Plymstock, Oreston and Hooe, and the Plymouth & District Motor Company started a service to Totnes, which was later extended to Torquay. The folks of Plympton were not to be left out and Messrs Goad Brothers, who owned a garage at Saint Mary Bridge, started a service to Plymouth and later to Cornwood. And down on the coast, at Wembury, Mr J W Newton used an old lorry to start carrying passengers to the market in Plymouth: the business later became the Star Motor Services.
By 1925 the Devon Motor Transport Company was running services to Ivybridge, Ermington, Wembury, Totnes, Bigbury-on-Sea, Ugborough, Cornwood, Dousland and Walkhampton, and Noss Mayo. But the main road to Exeter was very attractive to other operators and in 1926 a newcomer, HB Buses, started running to Ivybridge. On January 1st 1928 the the Devon Motor Transport Company was taken over by the National Omnibus & Transport Company Ltd.
An express service to and from London was started in 1928 by Highways, of London. This was to be the forerunner of the Royal Blue, Trathen's Rapide and National Express services.
On August 3rd 1928 the Royal Assent was given to the Great Western Railway (Road Transport) Act 1928, which allowed the Great Western Railway to take a share in motor bus companies operating within their territory. As a result, on Thursday February 28th 1929 the GWR and the National Omnibus and Transport Company Ltd jointly formed the Western National Omnibus Company Ltd. In time they in turn took over the Plymstock and Hooe services previously operated by Palace Saloons and the Buckland Monachorum and Dousland service of the Embankment Motor Company (Plymouth) Ltd.
During the 1930s, after giving thought to running trolley buses, Plymouth Corporation finally decided to start a tramway replacement programme. The programme would have been complete by the end of the decade had not the declaration of War in September 1939 stopped the closure of the final stretch of tramway from the Centre to Peverell Corner. Plymouth's last tram ran in September 1945.
The destruction of vehicles, lack of manpower and need to conserve fuel brought about discussions on co-operation between the Corporation and Western National, who were the only other major operator in the area by then. Those discussions resulted in the Plymouth Joint Services Agreement being signed in October 1942.
Plymouth's last totally independent bus operator, the Heybrook Bay Motor Services Company Ltd, was sold to the Western National Omnibus Company Ltd in December 1959 and their services were integrated into the Plymouth Joint Services.
Thus from 1960 onwards motor bus services in Plymouth were provided by either Plymouth Corporation Transport Department and Western National as partners in the Plymouth Joint Services or by Western National independently in the case of some country routes.
A few services or journeys were operated by Southern National Omnibus Company Ltd and Devon General Omnibus & Touring Company Ltd.
It should be pointed out that
at present the Plymouth
Data Website does not concern itself with any motor bus services in Plymouth after January 1st
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