RIBBLE, ARRIVA Plc, NORTHERN BLUE & WOOTTENS

I haven't continued the history of any company, beyond the time 359 worked for them, in the knowledge that there are many great websites for enthusiasts of nearly all transport companies.

RIBBLE

Ribble Motor Services was formed in 1919, eventually growing to be the largest public transport service in the north west of England, providing bus services from southern Lancashire as far north as Carlisle in, what known then as Cumberland in the north. Its headquarters were in Preston.

Acquisitions included Standerwick in 1932, Scout Motor Services in 1961, being fully absorbed into Ribble in 1968.

Ribble had operated dark red liveried buses through its BET Group ownership, before becoming part of the National Bus Company (NBC), a nationalised bus company, operating in England and Wales between 1969 and 1988.

1972 saw NBC's introduction of it's corporate livery of either green or poppy red. Ribble was forced to change, along with all NBC owned bus companies, it's livery change was to poppy red. The first batch of Leyland Nationals were delivered from the purpose built factory in Workington, painted in dark red paint but were changed into poppy red by the company before they entered service.

Prior to deregulation in 1986, Ribble's territory was reduced with the company's north Cumbrian operations passing to Cumberland Motor Services, and the Merseyside operations to a reformed North Western.

During privatisation of the National Bus Company, Ribble was sold in March 1988, in a management buyout, before being purchased in May 1989, by Stagecoach in Lancashire.

ARRIVA Plc

Founded by TSK Cowie in Sunderland in 1938, was a second-hand motorcycle dealer trading as T Cowie Limited. After WWII, in 1948 the company was re-launched by the founder's son, Tom Cowie, still selling motorcycles. T Cowie plc was floated in December 1964, and began buying out, what was to become, a large number of car dealerships.

1972 saw the forming of Cowie Contract Hire, which was to become the largest contract hire business, in the UK.

In wasn't until 1980, that T Cowie made its first incursion into bus operations, when it bought the Grey Green operation in London, from the George Ewer Group.

Following major in purchases of Vehicle Leasing businesses, privatisation of London bus services saw the Cowie Group acquired the Leaside Buses and South London Transport business units in September 1994 and January 1995.

1996 saw Cowie plc buy United Automobile Services in July and British Bus, of which London & Country was a part, in August 1996. Both of these companies, had acquired a number of privatised bus companies.

These transactions led the Cowie Group to be reclassified on the stock exchange from "Motor Dealer" to a "Transport Group", in the October of 1996.

In November 1997, the Cowie Group was rebranded as Arriva Plc.

NORTHERN BLUE

In November 1999, Northern Blue was formed by two former employees of Blackburn Transport and began operating in competition with their former employers, from a base in Oswaldtwistle.

After two months fierce competition, Northern Blue sold out their initial business to Blackburn Transport and began to concentrate on school contracts and some coaching work.

In August, having already won some contracted service work in the Burnley area, Northern Blue acquired the Border Buses and Viscount Central businesses from the Stratus Group and took over its base at Dean Mill. Northern Blue dropped the Border Buses name, but kept the Viscount Central name going for a number of years.

The bus side of the business continued to trade as Northern Blue and was expanded greatly. A number of local bus services and school contracts have been operated, mainly on behalf of Lancashire County Council.

The coaching unit and the Viscount Central name were sold in September 2005 to the Coach Centre, Accrington.

Northern Blue operated a large number of school contracts for Lancashire County Council as well as some commercial and non-commercial service work and through associated company Lancashire County Transport as Accrington Transport, operated a network of routes in the Hyndburn, Clitheroe, Burnley, Nelson & Bolton areas, 359s old Ribble stomping ground!

WOOTTENS

Woottens Luxury Travel commenced operations, in April 1999, by Nick and Michael Wootten as father and son, with two coaches and a small depot in Princes Risborough.

School contracts for both Oxfordshire County Council and Buckinghamshire County were won in the first year, and in August 1999 the company moved to a purpose-built depot in lye Green, near Chesham.

In April 2007 the operations of Westways of High Wycombe, an operator established since 1990, were acquired, increasing the amount of day trip and brochure holiday work dramatically. Also in 2007, the company was shortlisted for the Route One Coach Operator of the Year award.

ANDREW PEARSONĀ 
July 2015

LINKS

Ribble Vehicle Preservation Trust
http://www.rvpt.co.uk/

Arriva Plc
http://www.arriva.co.uk/countries/uk/uk-bus

Northern Blue
http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Northern_Blue

Woottens en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Woottens_Luxury_Travel