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  WEB NEWS 65  

In this issue of WHOTT Web News we take a brief at the Associated Motorway and Fox Brothers

  Associated Motorways - We conclude our three-part story. Part One appeared in WN62, followed by Part Two in the last issue. This account illustrates the impact that country-wide coach services had on the west country.

It was agreed in 1953 that, by bringing Ribble into the Associated Motorways pool, the following conditions would apply. Firstly, that all Friday night and Saturday traffic from Liverpool to Torbay (excluding all stages on the route north of Exeter) should be run independently by Ribble vehicles throughout the journey length. Return journeys to these from the south to be worked similarly. Ribble to retain fares for the through journey in exchange for the mileage operated. Secondly, Sunday to Friday traffic to transfer at Cheltenham but one Ribble vehicle per day to run on to Paignton. Revenue for this journey to be retained by Associated Motorways and the mileage placed in a contra account. Thirdly, Liverpool to Bournemouth traffic to be carried by Associated Motorways vehicles. Revenue to be divided at Cheltenham with the Liverpool section placed in a contra account. Mileage accounts to be settled seasonally on terms agreed for the time being. Fourthly, the Paignton journeys made by Ribble vehicles at weekends to be covered by special running times secured by Associated Motorways within their Cheltenham – Paignton licence. Lastly, booking quantums to be agreed season by season.

Keeping a record of all of that must have occupied much time in the traffic audit section as data from way bills was carefully extracted. The whole manner of this was under constant review while maintaining the basic structure of the scheme. Adjustments to the methods for time-tabling, publicity, daily vehicle contacts and methods of charting daily and weekend ‘throughs’ followed the need to keep a tight control on revenue allocation, all at a time when the only means of communication was the telephone, a letter, or driver’s satchel. On top of this, having succeeded to embrace Ribble into the scheme, other operators ‘up north’ tried hard to compete on the route to Devon, but protective action by both Associated Motorways and Ribble managed to fend off the intruders. Before the war the amount of revenue reaped by Associated Motorways from traffic originated by Ribble was no more than £1,400 per annum. By 1950 this had increased to £7,600 but, by 1954, had leapt to £22,000. In that same year Ribble had benefitted from the pool by over £8,700. Ten years later these figures had risen to £35,700 and £17,400 respectively – (62.5% and 100%). In the summer of 1954 some additional through routes were introduced between Nottingham and Exeter via Leicester and Coventry, and from Derby to both Paignton and Bournemouth.

Inclusive holidays were re-introduced in 1954 with a wide range of good resorts offered at all-inclusive prices. Surprisingly, no more than 100 bookings per year developed from this, so to mitigate the costs of advertising, the scheme was suspended after three seasons. Objections to road service licence applications were not only common from other coach operators, but also the railway. They persisted in refusing an application to run a 4.30pm departure from Cheltenham to Paignton via Weston-super-Mare in summer and the 2pm Cheltenham – Paignton via Exeter service in winter. However, in 1954 the Traffic Commissioner came down in favour of the application on both counts.

The Black & White rolling stock, most of which was high mileage, averaged a life of about twelve years. During the period 1950 – 1953 thirty-one Willowbrook bodied Leyland Royal Tigers had entered the fleet, but in 1954 the choice of chassis was awarded to Guy in the form of the model LUF. By 1956 thirty-eight of these had been purchased with similar bodywork by both Duple and Willowbrook, sporting the traditional central door.

One of the difficulties arising from road service licensing was where picking-up points could be permitted along the route. Many people, especially in rural areas, could see an Express coach pass the end of their lane, but they were unable to board it there without making a separate bus or taxi journey to the nearest town. Many instances of this were submitted to the traffic commissioners and first the Western area, followed later by the Eastern area, agreed to modify the licences by attaching a special condition to them. This enabled any pre-booked passenger to be picked up or set down anywhere on the authorised route. Similar applications to other traffic areas were not made, however, because of varying circumstances.
Six of these Duple bodied AEC Reliances joined the fleet in 1961. Clearly distinguished by their integral sun visors, the body style gave the impression of speed. Here 217 (8217AD) is patiently awaiting departure to London. One of six Harrington bodied AEC Reliances delivered in 1964. These 41-seaters, of which 250 (AAD250B) is one, were used mainly on Cotswolds tours during the week and express duplication at weekends. A 1956 Willowbrook bodied AEC Reliance parked on loayover at Victoria Coach Station, London. This style of body with curvy embellishments was plentiful in the Black & White fleet. Here 197 (SDF197) is labelled ready for Gloucester.
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Fox Brothers, Wellington, Somerset - When WHOTT moved its archive to Coldharbour Mill in 2015 we described in WN60 our new surroundings of a working woollen mill. Fox Bros built the mill in Uffculme to supplement its Tonedale mill at Wellington and like most mills, they relied on water and later steam to drive the heavy machinery. The company employed many people throughout the Culm valley and young girls were put to work on the looms for up to twelve hours a day. The constant din and clatter of all that machinery was kept going by men who were mechanically skilled enough to keep the cogs of industry turning, and money pouring in. It seems that Fox Brothers were not only keen to have the latest mill machinery installed but were also ahead with mechanical road transport. Until the end of the 19th century their materials would have been brought to the mill by horse and cart and finished goods taken away by the same means. All this was about to change in 1898.
In Leyland, Lancs James Sumner had set up the Lancashire Steam Motor Company in 1884 and started building various types of steam vehicles or adapting others to run on steam, even a lawn mower. On 10th May 1897 a silver medal was won when they entered a steam van of under 2 tons at the Royal Agricultural Society Trials near Crewe, when none of the other entrants managed to start! In the winter of 1897/8 work took place on a larger vehicle capable of carrying 4 tons. It had an oil-fired boiler and condenser on the roof of the cab. The timber body had a hinged tail gate that could be lowered to form a ramp for loading. When finished it exceeded the tare weight of 3 tons set by the Locomotives on Highways Act of 1896, so was rebuilt of lighter components. It emerged later with an unladen weight of 2tons 18cwts, convincingly painted on the side, though judging by its heavy appearance one wonders if this was genuine, or simply near enough. In early1898 it was driven to Sutton Coldfield to take part in the RAS trials with other manufacturers and won first prize of £100. Shortly after, between 24th and 28th May, the same vehicle took part in the Liverpool Self-Propelled trials when it won the highest award of £100. A Silver Medal was won at trials in Blackburn though it is not sure if the same Leyland built vehicle was involved. Further trials took place in Paris in November 1898 when Leyland entered a steam van and a ‘lurry’, as they called it. This may have been the same vehicle or another that had been ordered by Liverpool Corporation. However, about this time the original lorry, now converted to run on coke, was sold to Fox Bros of Wellington and can probably be acknowledged as the very first Leyland lorry sold, certainly outside Lancashire. These vehicles weren’t called Leyland at the time, the town of their birth not being adopted until 1908.
WHOTT was unaware that they had walked into commercial transport history when taking up residence in Uffculme. We don’t know if the original lorry ever ventured that far from Wellington, but if it could make the journey from Leyland to Sutton Coldfield, then perhaps it did. Fox Bros sold it in October 1901 and replaced it with a Class B wagon from the same makers, which suggests that they were perfectly happy with the supplier. A photo of this, their second vehicle, shows it parked alongside two similar examples for the Ceylon Rapid Transit Company, perhaps an optimistic title in terms of speed.
In this view of three new Class B type wagons new in October 1901, the one for Fox Bros is seen far left. A Class B model that had seen five years service with the same customer. This Class H type long wheel base lorry was new to Fox Bros in July 1908. It was issued with a Lancashire registration number – B2146, and after delivery replaced the vehicle.


West Country Bristol - ECW Intermins

Obituary- Philip Leslie John Platt

Future Activities


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Web News 64

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Web News 66


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