Webpage created: June 18, 2017
Webpage updated: August 07, 2018
MOTOR BUS SERVICES IN OLD PLYMOUTH
DEVON MOTOR TRANSPORT COMPANY LIMITED
When Lieutenant-Commander Francis Theodore Hare retired from the Royal Navy at the end of the Great War he needed something to keep him occupied. Thus it was that on December 3rd 1919, in partnership with a Mr Henry James Grierson, he founded the Devon Motor Transport Company Ltd. It was a road haulage business and had its registered office at East Bridge House, Okehampton, with an administrative office at 7 Fore Street.
But road haulage did not run out to be as profitable as had been anticipated so in 1920 a motor bus service was started from Okehampton to Tavistock, running only on market day. The livery of the vehicles was green and white.
Early in 1922 the Company opened a road haulage depot at Bath Place in Plymouth, down by the arches near Plymouth Station at Millbay. Also that year they extended their route number 12, Okehampton to Tavistock, into Plymouth. But here they hit a small problem. Whereas Plymouth Corporation omnibuses were regarded by the Corporation was stage carriages the DMT ones, from outside the Borough, were classed as hackney carriages plying for hire. This meant thatt hey came under the authority of the Corporation's Inspector of Hackney Carriages, at that time Mr J W Lovelace. Assisted by Sergeant W Mead, of the Plymouth Constabulary, Mr Lovelace stopped a DMT bus on North Hill on July 26th 1922 and the number of passengers were counted. In addition to the licensed 29 seated ones were 22 standing ones, in contravention of the regulations. Interestingly it was not the Company which got hauled before the Magistrates but the driver, Mr John George Land, of 35 Exeter Street, Tavistock. When Sergeant Mead interviewed him the following day, with Police Constable Weeks as a witness, Mr Lang said "I have got to obey orders. My orders are to push in as many as I can, and I don't want to lose my job". He was defended by Mr Eric R Ward. The defendant was fined one pound.
Shortly afterwards the DMT sold all their bus services east of Dartmoor to the Devon General Omnibus & Touring Company Ltd in order to concentrate their efforts on developing services in the areas surrounding Okehampton and Plymouth.
Carefully avoiding a route 13, this was quickly followed, in August 1922, with a new Service 14 from Princess Square, Plymouth, to Ivybridge. It was augmented by two short-run journeys as far as Plympton.
With the start of the winter service in October 1922, DMT started another new service, the number 15 from Plymouth to Tamerton Foliot.
The Company did not have an office in Plymouth at that time but directed enquiries to their agent, Mr T Pengelly, tobacconist, whose premises were opposite Derry's Clock.
Yealmpton and Ermington were the next villages to be linked to Plymouth when DMT started its route 17 in March 1923.
By July 1923 the Traffic Manager's Office had moved from 10a Princess Square to number 18 Whimple Street. The telephone number was Plymouth 1632. Their adverts also asked people to: 'Travel by the Green Buses'.
During the first week of September 1923 a new service to Wembury via Elburton was started, the first timetable being published on 6th. Interestingly, the Ivybridge service had been renumbered Route 3 by that time and from Monday August 13th was augmented by seven local journeys which terminated at Mr Harry Stephen's Stores in the Ridgway.
Sometime during 1923 DMT acquired the motor bus service between Plymouth and Honicknowle belonging to Mr Abraham Edward Peachey, a taxi-cab proprietor from Plymouth. They promptly extended the route through to Higher Saint Budeaux.
By May 1924 the Ivybridge service had been extended to Bittaford, South Brent and Totnes, although not all the buses ran that far. Similarly Crownhill had bus every 15 minutes thanks to the services to Tavistock, Tamerton Foliot and Higher Saint Budeaux.
From June 1924 the Ermington route was extended to Ugborough although most of the services continued to terminate at Yealmpton.
Devon Motor Transport planned to start a new service to Cornwood in October 1924, intending it to run through the Ridgeway and Chaddlewood. This was evidently not popular so they changed it to via Colebrook and Hemerdon. However, they were out-manoeuvred by Messrs Goad Brothers, of Plympton, who placed their charabanc over that route at the end of September. Suddenly, isolated Cornwood found itself getting 28 buses a day.
When the Winter timetable came into force on Wednesday October 1st 1924 there was a new innovation -- a circular service. The route to Ugborough was cut back to Ermington once again but now it was run via Caton to Ivybridge, where it linked up with the Plymouth to Ivybridge service. Buses now ran in both directions.
During 1924 DMT acquired Messrs A C Turner ("Turner's Tours"), whose garage at Kirkby Place, North Road, became the new Plymouth home for DMT's vehicles, allowing the Company to close the old premises at West Hoe.
Sometime towards the end of October 1924 another new service was started. This augmented the route to Yelverton and then took the road to Dousland (for Burrator Reservoir) and Walkhampton. It was extended to Princetown during the summer months. However, by the following year the buses terminated at Dousland and yet another new service had been started, from Devonport to Yelverton, replacing the route to Roborough previously operated by the Sanfairyan Bus Service.
In October 1925 Noss Mayo on the river Yealm was the destination of a new service via Yealmpton Station and Newton Ferrers. During the year the timings on the Modbury road were co-ordinated with those of the Great Western Railway's Road Motors so as to reduce wasted competition.
But the Company still faced competition from smaller operators. A Mr Packer had operated a service from Tamerton Foliot to Plymouth and this was later taken over by a Mr C H Took. In 1926 his service was absorbed into DMT's.
By the mid-1920s the fascination of the motor bus had taken a grip and DMT found itself facing much competition, especially on the lucrative Plymouth to Exeter road. This resulted in what has become known as "The Battle of the Colours", with DMT's green buses vying with the red and white double-decker buses of the Plymouth and District Motor Services, the blue liveried vehicles of HB Buses, and the grey buses of Messrs Goad Brothers aptly mis-named Red Ensign fleet. The pressure proved too much for Plymouth & District, who gave up in 1926, and for Goad's, who in May 1927 started negotiations with Devon Motor Transport.
This process of eliminating the competition continued during 1927, when the excursion business of Mr R H Baker's "Rex Tours" was taken over.
The introduction of the Summer Timetable on Monday May 16th 1927 saw the Dousland service extended to Princetown again; a new service to South Brent and Buckfastleigh and a new circular service covering Bickleigh, Shaugh Bridge, Lee Moor, Sparkwell, Hemerdon and Marsh Mills.
Although not mentioned as a new service, the timetable published on May 26th 1927 that year included for the first time a service from Plymouth to Eggbuckland. Curiously it was not even mentioned a couple of weeks later but had been re-instated by September 1927. A second new route was to Clearbrook and Meavy.
At midnight on Saturday December 31st 1927 two important events took place. The first was the take-over by DMT of the Tamerton Foliot service of Mr Ambrose Octavius Facey, operating as "Pioneer Saloon Buses". His two vehicles were not included in the arrangement.
Also that night the Devon Motor Transport Company Ltd was taken over by the National Omnibus & Transport Company Ltd.