Including Old Devonport UK  and Old East Stonehouse UK and beyond.

  Brian Moseley, Plymouth
Webpage created: June 15, 2017
Webpage updated: November 14, 2021




The relations between Plymouth Corporation Transport Department and the Western National Omnibus Company Limited were never cordial.  The Corporation wanted to extend their service to outlying districts like Saint Budeaux, Crownhill, and Eggbuckland to which Western National objected, and the Company wanted to improve its facilities in Plymouth by constructing its own bus station, to which the Corporation objected.  But the situation changed dramatically in March 1941.

In just seven nights of just one year the heart was torn out of Plymouth, Stonehouse and Devonport.  The Blitz turned the homes and businesses in the centre of Plymouth into a pile of rubble.  The people moved further and further into the outskirts and while that was to the benefit of Western National, it meant that the Corporation was losing its passengers.

To try to redress this imbalance, the Corporation sought powers from the Regional Transport Commissioner to extend its services outside the City boundary to Oreston, Dean Cross, Plympton, and through Compton and Crownhill to Saint Budeaux.  The Company objected.  In the weight of loads of complaints about the service in Plymouth, the Commissioner issued a memorandum to both parties on Thursday April 17th 1941, citing the forthcoming agreement of co-operation between Portsmouth Corporation and Southdown Motor Services as a suitable basis for use in Plymouth.

When the Corporation's application to extend its services was formally examined at a public inquiry on Friday June 13th 1941, the decision went, unsurprisingly, against them.

Even as late as October and November 1941, the Corporation's Transport Manager was still being told by City councillors to oppose any move on the part of the Company.  However, they could not ignore the Commissioner for ever and on Friday December 5th 1941 they had to attend a conference at the Commissioner's Office in Bristol.   The outcome was that on Monday December 23rd 1941 the City's Treasurer and Transport General Manager met with representatives from the Western National Company.

So the Joint Services Committee was formed and they met at the Commissioner's offices on Monday September 7th 1942.  Councillor R H Baker, the chairman of the City Tramways and Transport Committee, was elected to the chair.  The City's representatives were Aldermen Lovell Dunstan and Solomon Stephens, Councillors L J Hodge and W T Reeve, the Town Clerk, the City Treasurer and the General Manager and Engineer of the Transport undertaking.  Western National's team consisted of Messrs F C A Coventry and P G Stone, directors; Mr E F Horobin, the Traffic Manager; Mr H L Ellis, Secretary; and Mr B V Smith, General Manager and Chief Engineer.  Also present was Mr A G Dennis, the solicitor to the holding company, Messrs Thomas Tilling Ltd.

Mr Dennis presented a draft agreement he had drawn up in consultation with the Town Clerk.  It divided the revenue, mileage and operating expenses on the basis of 80% to the Corporation and 20% to the Company.  The Joint Committee would settle the matters of fares, timetables and alterations to services although they would not have jurisdiction over services that ran partly in and partly out of the agreed area and which had a minimum single fare of two shillings and sixpence.   Interestingly, traffic inspectors could board and carry out their inspections on the vehicles of either party.

The new arrangement became operative from Thursday October 1st 1942 and the notice "Use Any Bus, Red or Green" came into being.  The Agreement was legally executed on November 2nd 1942.  For the Plymouth Joint Services Route Network in 1942 click HERE.

New timetables for the Plymouth Joint Services operation were brought into force on Sunday January 10th 1943.

The Transport Act 1985, which received the Royal Assent on October 3rd 1985, required Plymouth City Council to establish its motor bus operation as a private limited company and thus on Sunday October 26th 1986 Plymouth Citybus was formed.  This in effect ended the Plymouth Joint Services Agreement and brought Western National Omnibus Company Limited into competition rather than co-operation with the Council.  In November 2009 it was revealed that the Council's motor bus services had been sold to the GoAhead Group and thus privatized.