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Title: Crosville  
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Subject: Knutsford, National Bus Company (UK), Bristol Lodekka, Western Welsh, National Welsh Omnibus Services, Big Four (British railway companies)
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This article is about the former bus operator in north Wales and north west England. For the present operator in Weston-super-Mare, see Crosville Motor Services (Weston-super-Mare).
Crosville Motor Services
Bristol Lodekka G792 at the 2009 Cobham bus rally.
Founded 1906
Headquarters Chester
Locale United Kingdom
Service area Chester, Lancashire, Flintshire, North-mid Wales, Liverpool
Service type Bus

Crosville Motor Services was a bus operator running within the north west of England and north and mid Wales.


The company was formed as Crosville Motor Company Limited on 27 October 1906 in Chester, by George Crosland Taylor and his French business associate Georges de Ville, with the intention of building motor cars. The company name was an amalgam of 'Crosland' and 'de Ville'.

In 1909 Crosville had commenced its first bus service, between Chester and Ellesmere Port. By 1929 Crosville had consolidated an operating area covering the Wirral and parts of Lancashire, Cheshire and Flintshire.

The Railways (Road Transport) Act, 1928 gave the four railway companies the opportunity to provide bus services. But rather than run in competition they bought into or purchase outright existing bus companies. In February 1929, the London, Midland and Scottish Railway made an offer of £400,000 to purchase Crosville, which was completed in November 1929. The new LMS (Crosville) company then in the next few months purchased Holyhead Motors, and UNU Motor Services of Caernarfon.

Shortly afterwards, the four railway companies reached an agreement with the Tilling and British Automobile Traction (T&BAT) to complete a cross-holding deal, whereby each organisation held a 50% share in a series of jointly-held and consolidated regional bus companies. LMS (Crosville) was therefore merged with T&BAT's Royal Blue of Llandudno, and renamed Crosville Motor Services Ltd. on 15 May 1930, after only nine months of outright LMS ownership.

In the next few months the company consolidated its majority share of the North Wales coastal services, buying up various smaller private companies that operated in the Crosville area, including: White Rose Motor Services of Rhyl; Red Dragon of Denbigh; Burton of Tarporley; North Wales Silver Motors; and Llangoed Red Motors. On 1 May 1933, the Great Western Railways northern Welsh service Western Transport was amalgamated with Crosville.

World War 2

Although the start of World War II brought about cuts in the company timetable, by the end of the war the company had increased passengers by 50% and revenues by 90%. This was through North Wales being seen as a safe area from Luftwaffe bombing, resulting in a number of Shadow factories and Munitions factories being built in the area. This resulted in the expansion of a number of formerly quiet villages, and hence the route map changed quite dramatically. In example, ROF Wrexham at Marchwiel needed over 200 buses daily.

This passenger demand brought about a change in fleet policy, with double deckers appearing in the fleet for the first time, albeit second-hand as war time production was give over to the war effort. This changed on 3 December 1942, when Crosville became a subsidiary of the Tilling Group, resulting in a change from maroon to Tilling-green livery, and Bristol-chassised buses replacing Leyland as the manufacturer of choice.

Crosville emerged from the war far stronger in many ways, with healthy cash reserves in the bank or accumulating nicely in property assets, unable to replace their fleet at their normal renewal rate. However, although Crosville focused on replacing its single-deck fleet with double deckers, Tilling had a group policy against investment in coaches, resulting in a rise across the geography of a number of new coach operators. By the time that the post-war government of Clement Attlee merged both Tilling and the railway companies into the British Transport Commission on 1 January 1948, and Crosville was nationalised, the coach operators were a sustainable competitive entity.


New Bristol double-deckers had become the standard fleet purchase for all Tilling/BET fleets, which allowed the company to service the post-war boom until 1950, when traffic began to fall again thanks to the increase in the number of private cars. The combination of this, plus the Suez Crisis of 1956 and a lack of staff due to low wages, lead to a general contraction of the network out of countryside routes and to reduce operations by at least half on a Sunday. The network continued to decline, except in the provision of new service to replace railways removed by the Beeching Axe, with the 1965 introduced "Cymru Coastliner," between Chester and Caernarfon anticipating the closure of that British Rail route and the intermediate stations.


The 1968 Transport Act created the National Bus Company, and the principle that rural bus services needed to be subsidised by councils. Although having reduced costs through the introduction of one-man operation, Crosville submitted a list of 196 routes that required financial assistance.

With the transfer of routes within Greater Manchester to the local Passenger Transport Executive in 1971, NBC spilt the residual service between Trent and Crosville, with the company taking over 119 vehicles and depots in Northwich, Macclesfield and Biddulph in March 1972. A consolidation of companies within NBC resulted Crosville taking over services in parts of West Wales from Western Welsh, including those from the depots in New Quay, Newcastle Emlyn and Lampeter.

The company continued to consolidate and regress its network through the 1980s, making a loss of £1M in 1980, and £2M in 1981. Rebranding of local service in metropolitan areas assisted in a flattening of the rate of revenue reduction, but losses continued to mount.


On 13 February 1986, the Secretary of State for Transport decided that, because of their size, the four largest NBC companies would be split, as they provided too great a competitive threat on deregulation. Crosville was split into two in preparation for the privatisation of the National Bus Company in the 1980s. Crosville Cymru was to remain generally in one piece, but most of the remainder of Crosville based in England was to be split between then-sister companies Midland Red North and the new North Western company based in Liverpool. The latter move was quite a reversal of fortunes, as much of Crosville's territory in the eastern half of Cheshire had been gained from the original North Western company at its dismemberment in 1972.

The remaining Wirral and Chester Crosville operations were sold in February 1990 to PMT who retained the Crosville name, however it passed into history ten years later with the corporate First Group branding. Following losses, FirstGroup sold the three depots (Chester, Rock Ferry and Wrexham) in the Wirral and Chester operation to Stagecoach Plc in December 2012.

North Western, Crosville Cymru and the Cheshire depots of Midland Red North are today under common management as Arriva North West and Wales.

Crosville today

Main article: Crosville Motor Services (Weston-super-Mare)

The "Crosville Motor Services" name has been resurrected by a new operator in Weston-super-Mare. As well as modern vehicles, it has a heritage fleet which includes several vehicles from the original Crosville fleet.[1]

See also


Further reading

  • Anderson, R C; History of Crosville Motor Services; David & Charles PLC; 2001; ISBN 0-7153-8088-5
  • Banks, John; The Prestige Series - Crosville; Venture Publications; 2001; ISBN 1-898432-39-2
  • Carroll, John; 75 Years of Crosville; Transport Publishing Company; 1981; ISBN 0-903839-70-9
  • Carroll, John & Duncan Roberts; Crosville Motor Services : Part 1 - The First 40 Years; Venture Publications; 1995; ISBN 1-898432-12-0
  • Crosland-Taylor, W J; Crosville: The Sowing and The Harvest; Transport Publishing Company; 1987; ISBN 0-86317-136-2
  • Crosland-Taylor, W J; Crosville: State Owned Without Tears; Transport Publishing Company; 1987; ISBN 0-86317-139-7
  • Hillmer, John; Exploring Crosville Country: Part 1: England; Past & Present Publishing; 2005; ISBN 1-85895-248-4
  • Hillmer, John; Exploring Crosville Country: Part 2: Wales; Past & Present Publishing; 2005; ISBN 1-85895-249-2
  • Jenkins, MArtin & Charles Roberts; The Heyday of Crosville; Ian Allan; 2009; ISBN 0-7110-3401-X
  • Maund, T B; Crosville on Merseyside; Transport Publishing; 1992; ISBN 0-86317-168-0
  • Roberts, Duncan; Crosville Motor Services : Part 2 : 1945 - 1990; NBC Books; 1997; ISBN 0-9531895-0-3
  • Roberts, Duncan; Crosville 3 - The Successors; NBC Books; 2001;

External links

  • History of Crosvile Motor Services 1911-1990
  • Crosville (Weston Super Mare)
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