Brighton & Hove’s Transport History Trail
Organised horse bus routes first began running in Brighton and
Hove around the middle of the 19th Century particularly once the
Seventeen years later in 1901 Brighton Corporation began running trams within the Borough from a new garage in Lewes Road and in 1903 BH&PU started running the first motor buses which were initially frowned on by local shopkeepers annoyed at the mud splashing on to their windows in the narrow streets as well as the consequential petrol fumes and vibrations.
In 1915 the South Coast Motor Services Company took
over the Brighton to
Another significant development in 1915 saw competition beginning from the expanding Thomas Tilling empire who were running an extensive network of buses in London as well as other parts of the south east and had set up a garage in Holland Road, Hove. The following year, in 1916, Tilling took over the Brighton, Hove & Preston United Company and replaced all the remaining horse buses in the town with motor buses and included the Tilling name on their sides. The town’s transport was therefore provided by Tilling and Southdown’s motor buses and Brighton Corporation’s trams.
It was in 1935, on 26th November, that
Tilling formed a new separate company the Brighton, Hove & District Omnibus
Company Ltd (BH&D) as an autonomous subsidiary of the parent group. Buses were branded as
It’s pleasing that seventy fives years later in 2010,
the Company is still locally branded and, as then, is an autonomous subsidiary
The seventy five years of BH&D can be divided into four eras. The first, lasting thirteen years, saw the Company prosper as a private company within the Tilling empire. The second period lasted for twenty-one years and began when Tilling sold out to the British Transport Commission in 1948 as part of the post-war Government nationalisation programme. In 1964 the BTC was replaced with a Transport Holding Company which five years later in 1969 led to the National Bus Company being formed. Bus companies such as Southdown which had become part of the BET empire had become nationalised as BET sold its portfolio of bus companies to the Government that year and also became part of the new National Bus Company.
This third era, which lasted for sixteen years from
1969 to 1985, saw the bringing together of both BH&D and Southdown under
common local management within the National Bus Company. As both companies had head offices in the
towns it inevitably led to rationalisation and
savings of overheads as the organisations were
merged. As Southdown’s empire stretched
Gradually the head office at
Meanwhile the Corporation buses continued as part of Brighton Borough Council’s Transport Department. Bus routes had been coordinated for many years with an operating agreement between BH&D and the Corporation as early as 1939 with all buses carrying the same fleetname ‘Brighton, Hove & District Transport’ and wore a red and cream livery. This was replaced with a new BATS (Brighton Area Transport Services) Agreement in January 1961 which also brought in the services run by Southdown in the town for the first time.
Once Southdown and BH&D merged in 1969, their share of the BATS Agreement extended to a combined 79.5% of all the operations in the towns and the Corporation became a minor partner with 20.5%. The parties aimed to operate that proportion of mileage each year and agreed to pool all the revenue irrespective of what route it was taken on before sharing it out in those agreed proportions. The arrangement was way ahead of its time as a system of integrating transport in an area.
By 1985 privatisation
returned again to the Agenda and we enter the fourth era of the Company’s
history. The ensuing twenty five years
between 1985 and 2010, saw the recreation of BH&D trading simply as
Brighton & Hove and has seen deregulation of bus services in 1986 and privatisation of the company in 1987. This was initially through a management
buy-out from NBC and lasted until November 1993 when the Company was sold on to
the Go-Ahead Northern bus company. In Spring 1994 Go-Ahead floated on the stock market as the
Go-Ahead Group plc and has gone on to become one of the most successful
Meanwhile in December 1993 Brighton Borough Council sold its transport undertaking which had become an arms length company, Brighton Transport Ltd back in January 1986. Just over three years later in May 1997, the Go-Ahead Group purchased Brighton Transport and merged it with Brighton & Hove by the end of June 1997.
In September 2005 Go-Ahead purchased the buses and
goodwill of the routes operated by Stagecoach from its garage in Lewes and
outstations at Uckfield, Eastbourne
More details of the Company’s recent history during the period 1985 to 2010 can be found in Roger French’s book Pride & Joy available from the Company.
This history trail is dedicated to the memory of Jim Jones. Jim worked for the Brighton & Hove Bus Company and Southdown all his working life for 38 years until his untimely death in 2000. He took a keen interest in the history of the Company as well as its modern day operations. Much of the content of this section of our web site is only possible through the work he tirelessly carried out with such great dedication.
Railway line between
Railway line from
Railway completed from
Railway opened between
These railway developments had a bearing on the trade of local horse drawn cabs and carriages, and helped create demand for local public transport.
First regular horse bus service between Hove and
Volks Electric Railway opened, the first in the world.
Shoreham Tramway opened between Shoreham and
Major horse bus operators William Taylor Beard,
William Mayner and Henry Thomas amalgamate to form
Devils Dyke railway branch line opened. Originally steam hauled stock, but operated with a Sentinel steam railcar from 1/5/1933 to 1/5/1935.
Dyke Aerial Cableway opened (1,200ft long).
Volks Brighton & Rottingdean Seashore Electric Tramroad opened. Wrecked by the same storm that destroyed the Chain Pier in Dec 1896.
Rebuilt Brighton & Rottingdean Seashore Electric Tramroad reopens.
Dyke Steep Grade Railway opened.
Brighton & Rottingdean Seashore Electric Tramroad closed.
Brighton Corporation Tramways using electric cars commences service.
Brighton Hove & Preston United Omnibus Company introduce first motor bus (Milnes Daimler CD 103).
Both the Dyke Aerial Cableway and Steep Grade Railway
closed about this time, following the promoter James Henry Hubbard emigrating to
Portslade Station to Westbourne Villas section of Shoreham Tramway closed.
Thomas Tilling starts motor mail van service between
Final closure of Shoreham Tramway.
Brighton Corporation Trolleybus trial
using Leeds Railless Traction vehicle with under
Vehicle arrived on 23/12/1913 by train, It was used on
tram tracks with a return skate and also on a special route from Rose Hill
Hove Corporation Cedes Stoll Trolleybus
trial in Goldstone Villas and
Thomas Tilling starts motor bus service in Brighton
and Hove with vehicles transferred from
Brighton Hove & Preston United Brighton-Worthing route and excursions transferred to South Coast Motor Services (renamed Southdown from 2/6/1915).
Thomas Tilling buys out Brighton Hove & Preston
United Omnibus Company. Tilling moves to
Last horse bus withdrawn.
Southdown receives its first Leyland TD1’s.
Thomas Tilling begin replacement of the
Brighton, Hove & District Omnibus Company
replaces Thomas Tilling’s
Devils Dyke railway branch line closed.
Operating agreement between Brighton Hove
& District and Brighton Corporation. Adoption of common red and cream
livery and fleetname ‘
Brighton Corporation start operating AEC 661T trolleybuses and AEC Regent motor buses as tram replacement.
Last Corporation trams withdrawn.
Last AEC Regents withdrawn by
Southdown receives its first Leyland ‘Queen Mary’ PD3’s.
Brighton Corporation receives its first Leyland PD2’s.
New Brighton Area Transport Services agreement became effective incorporating Brighton Hove & District, Southdown and Brighton Corporation.
Brighton Corporation trolleybuses withdrawn.
Brighton Hove & District becomes part of the Transport Holding Company.
National Bus Company formed, Brighton Hove &
District merges with Southdown Motor Services with head office at
Ten Bristol VR’s ordered by
Brighton, Hove & District are delivered, the first rear engined
double deckers to operate in the
Brighton Corporation Transport withdraws its last AEC Regent.
Southdown withdraws the first of its Leyland PD3’s. However, it was ten years before the bulk of the type had departed, and two convertibles passed into Stagecoach ownership in 1989 with the rest of the Southdown fleet.
Brighton Corporation Transport adopt new livery of light blue and white.
Brighton Corporation Transport receives its first Leyland Atlanteans.
Southdown receives its first Leyland Nationals.
Brighton Corporation Transport becomes Brighton Borough Transport.
Last Bristol K disposed of by
Southdown receives its last VR’s, which are also its last new double deckers under NBC ownership.
With deregulation in the offing, small is again beautiful, and Southdown’s Brighton & Hove operations become separated and managed as an autonomous unit within Southdown.
Fifty years on from the formation of Brighton Hove & District a bright new livery of red, cream and black is launched with restyled ‘Brighton & Hove’ fleetname.
Brighton & Hove formally separates from Southdown
recreating the former Brighton Hove & District Omnibus Company Ltd which
had been a dormant company since 1969 and still owned by the National Bus
Company. All garages and vehicles based in the Brighton and Hove area as well
The Brighton Area Transport Services Agreement ends.
Mercedes minibuses introduced to Service 7
Company legal name changed to Brighton & Hove Bus and Coach Company Limited.
Almex electronic Timtronic ticket machines introduced.
Brighton Borough Transport becomes Brighton Borough Transport Ltd.
Brighton & Hove privatised by management buy out.
Southdown privatised by management buy out.
Bus Times published for first time.
Moulsecoomb Garage ceased to be operational.
Brighton & Hove receives its first Scania’s.
Stagecoach acquire Southdown.
Radios fitted to buses.
Brighton & Hove’s involvement on National Express 064 ceased.
A Passenger Charter is introduced for the first time.
SAVER tickets are introduced.
First real ‘outside’ competition to Brighton &
Hove is experienced from Haven Coaches, between
Brighton Borough Transport Ltd withdraws its last Leyland PD3’s
Three Mercedes 608 minibuses introduced on a new CentreBus service in bright yellow livery.
New Almex Eurofare ticket machines introduced.
CentreBus service withdrawn in favour of 60p CentreFare introduced on standard services.
Brighton & Hove purchased by Go Ahead Northern Ltd - their first acquisition prior to the Oxford Bus Company in early 1994 and floatation as the Go-Ahead Group plc in May 1994..
CentreFare reduced to 50p
Brighton Corporation Transport sold to employees, becoming Brighton Transport (1993) Ltd, and using Brighton Blue Bus as a fleetname.
New bus lanes introduced in
New segregated bus lanes
introduced alongside St Peter’s Church in
Updated B & H livery introduced on Dennis Darts.
The first low-floor vehicles in the
Services 1/1A: Whitehawk-Mile Oak with
new Dennis Lances in
Service 7: George Street-Bristol Estate with repainted Mercedes Mini-buses in Purple livery, and branded as ‘The Busy Bees’(a name which had been used on red vehicles since 3/86). From 4/97, Dennis Darts were also repainted purple, and in 5/97 the service was enhanced by a new leg to Brighton Marina (Service 7). The Bristol Estate service was renumbered 7A.
Service 25 :
Services 5/5A/5B:Hangleton-Patcham/Hollingbury with new Scanias
in Tangerine plus some repainted Scanias and
Nationals branded as ‘The Famous Fives.
Night Buses introduced to run on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights.
Go Ahead Group purchase Brighton Transport (1993) Ltd, and merge it with Brighton & Hove by the end of June 1997. Fleet quickly painted in Brighton & Hove colours, with Service 49/49A vehicles receiving dark blue livery for the METRO launch.
Brighton Transport Ltd formally absorbed into Brighton & Hove Bus and Coach Company.
Bus services cease running from
the Lewes base inherited from Brighton Transport. Certain routes centered on
Burgess Hill retained and transferred to the
Brighton & Hove launch ‘METRO’ concept as a network of major routes drawing together previous route branded services 1/1A, 5/5A/5B, 7/7A and 25 with the former Brighton Transport service 49/49A. Previous route brand colours retained, logos altered to Brighton & Hove METRO. Diagramatic Underground style map launched.
First low floor double deckers join B & H fleet in the form of twenty Dennis Tridents (801-820). A new trend begins with the naming of vehicles.
13 Dennis Darts named with personalities from the Walk of Fame to be built at Brighton Marina.
20 more low floor Dennis Tridents (821-840) join the fleet.
Last Bristol VRT operates with the Company - their withdrawal is marked by a special running day on Service 6.
Last Leyland National operates with the Company.
Brighton & Hove celebrates 15 years of operation.
£1 flat fare introduced for a four month trial, which has now continued to operate.
24 new low floor Dennis Tridents (841-864) arrive for METRO Line 5.
12 new low floor Dennis Tridents (865-876) arrive, two are in special gold livery to celebrate Queen’s Golden Jubilee.
Flat fare increased to £1.20, and SAVER all day ticket reduced to lowest price of £2.40.
18 new low floor Scania Omnidekkas (601-618) arrive, two of which are convertible open toppers.
New Wayfarer ticket machines introduced.
A new style of livery is announced, with curves rather than straight lines, Trident 810 is the first to be painted.
18 new low floor Scania Omnidekkas (619-636) arrive for METRO Line 1.
Flat fare increased to £1.30 and SAVER increased to £2.50.
New N7 night service introduced between Brighton
10 new low floor Scania Omnidekkas (637-646) arrive all for revamped Coaster 12 service.
Book detailing the Bus Names that have appeared on 140 Brighton & Hove buses published. Edited by Mike Cheesman and Adam Trimingham.
Flat fare increased to £1.40 and SAVER increased to £2.60.
Launch of the first 10 I’m on the bus adverts, featuring local passengers in photos 13’ high.
Routemaster RML2725 borrowed from London General to
give Brightonian’s a last chance to ride on this type
of vehicle before they are phased out in
8 more new Scania Omnidekkas (647-654) arrive, 2 for Coaster 12 and 6 for Metro 49. Some off bus SAVER ticket prices increased. BusID 30p fare increased to 40p.
12 more new Scania Omnidekkas (655-666) arrive, 6 for Coaster 12 and 6 for Metro 49.
Hove take over Stagecoach operations from Lewes, Seaford,
split into two types CitySAVER and SuperSAVER (for travel to
Flat fare increased to £1.50 and CitySAVER now £2.80.
4 more new Scania Omnidekkas (667-670) arrive, 3 for Coaster 12 and 1 for Metro 49. Also delivered are 2 12m long Scania Omnidekkas with coach seats and seatbelts fitted. One is normally seen helping out on the Coaster 12.
Some of the 18 new 12m long Scania Omnidekkas (901-918) start to arrive for Metro 25.
The second all night bus service is introduced on the N25.
Fares revised to £1.70 before 9am or £1.50 after 9am, with a CitySAVER being £3.20 or £3.00
A CentreFare is reintroduced for £1 for any journey in area
Camera enforcement of bus lanes begins in the City Centre.
Brighton & Hove begins operating the
Some of the new Scania Omnidekkas (671-688) start to arrive, very slowly! 4 for Metro 49, 5 standard and 9 for Regency Route 29.
Fares revised to £1.70 single, and Centrefare extended at £1.20, CitySAVER £3.20 or SuperSAVER £4.20, but day SAVER ticket available online for only £2.80
Route 29 between
The Englandwide National Concessionary Fares scheme began.
A special offer in The Argus linked to on-line sales of SAVER tickets saw a 7-day ticket for just £7 go on sale in connection with a special promotional code printed exclusively in the paper.
The first of thirty one Scania Omnicity buses with 27 branded for METRO 5 begin to arrive. The order is completed in July.
Due to cuts in Council funding the bespoke
The text service for real time information at any bus stop begins.
RML 2317 was formally launched in its wonderful Thomas Tilling tribute livery following its acquisition from Metrobus.
The A259 bus lanes between Peacehaven and Ovingdean are opened.
A London Bendy bus is used on trial on route 25.
Four Bendy buses arrive in the fleet before being given an extensive makeover and refurbishment and entering service in September.
On Route Radio is launched.
A new style bus stop flag is launched.
Roger French’s book Pride & Joy is published.
A hugely successful 75th Anniversary bus
rally is held on
Brighton & Hove celebrates its 75th Anniversary with a luncheon at the Old Ship Hotel attended by civic dignitaries, city leaders and staff. Cheques for £17,000 each are presented to The Martlets and the Argus Appeal.
New ERG Smart card enabled ticket machines are introduced.
The first of 21 Volvo Wright bodied Gemini double deck buses branded for routes 6 and 7 are launched.
The first match is played at the new AMEX Community
Stadium. Around 40 buses from
National Concessionary passholders begin using their smart card enabled passes on the readers.
The new smartcard, the key is launched initially to students and in
spring 2012 more widely to adults and then on a phased basis to young people
with busID cards.
The new smartcard, the key is launched initially to students and in spring 2012 more widely to adults and then on a phased basis to young people with busID cards.
Bus Times reaches it’s 50th edition.
4 more Bendy buses joined the fleet.
4 more Bendy buses joined the fleet.
Further Volvo Wright bodied Gemini double deck buses branded for route 1 are launched and two Hybrid buses are introduced on route 7.
10 more Bendy buses arrive for Route 25.
10 more Bendy buses arrive for Route 25.
11 more Hybrid buses arrive, eight for route 7 and 3 for use elsewhere.
M-Ticketing trial launched on routes 23/25.
2 Volvo Wright bodied Gemini double deck buses branded for route 49 arrive.
29 Volvo Wright bodied Gemini double deck buses branded for route 5 arrived over 6 months. Plus 1 for route 6 in November.