Big Four (British Railway Companies) - Big Four British Railway Companies Road Transport - C

Big Four (British Railway Companies) - C

Big Four British Railway Companies Road Transport

The Big Four inherited and developed networks of feeder bus services, and after 1928 began to acquire majority shareholdings in local bus companies, such as the Bristol Tramways and Carriage Company, Crosville and United Automobile Services. However, railway involvement in bus operations was transformed in the period 1928-30. The companies’ legal powers to run bus services were unclear and each promoted private legislation (the Road Powers Acts of 1928) to obtain clarity. Concessions were demanded in return, including the key one that the railways would refrain from taking a controlling interest in bus undertakings.

This led the companies to enter into partnerships with the bus combines: British Electric Traction, Scottish Motor Traction and Thomas Tilling, also the National Omnibus and Transport Company, soon afterwards absorbed by Tilling. The railways relinquished the majority stakes they had already acquired but also bought substantial minority shareholdings in other companies in the combine groups. Eventually there were investments in 33 bus and coach companies.

Where there was a local monopoly of rail services the agreements were bilateral but where inter-penetrating lines were common, there were two railway companies with minority shareholdings, for example, Devon General and Thames Valley Traction (both GWR/SR), Crosville and Midland Red (both GWR/LMS), and Eastern Counties, Eastern National, East Midland Motor Services, Hebble Motor Services, Lincolnshire Road Car, Trent Motor Traction, West Yorkshire Road Car, Yorkshire Traction and Yorkshire Woollen District Transport (all LMS/LNER). The LMS and LNER also sat with the local authority on Joint Omnibus Committees in Halifax and Sheffield.

In October 1933, the railways jointly purchased the Hay's Wharf Cartage Company Ltd., owners of Pickfords, and Carter Paterson.

Big Four British Railway Companies Other Activities

Air services were another area of co-operation. The GWR, LMS and Southern acquired British and Foreign Aviation Ltd. and formed Railway Air Services Ltd. Channel Island Airways Ltd. and its subsidiaries (Jersey Airways, Ltd. and Guernsey Airways Ltd.) were wholly owned by the GWR and Southern.

Thomas Cook & Son having come into Belgian ownership, its impounded shares were sold by the British Custodian of Enemy Property to the Big Four.


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