The final curtain for Crosville

The writing was on the wall for a long time but Saturday April 21st marked the end of another chapter in the long-running Crosville Motor Services story. Although this is now old news, it deserves an airing here because of my involvement with the latter-day company.

To recap, a combination of falling revenue and some difficulties with the Traffic Commissioner made it inevitable that the company would have to cease trading.

The management of the Weston-super-Mare company decided to go out with a flourish, so organised a running day on the last day of operation. Based at the Beach Lawns on Weston’s seafront, heritage vehicles were either lined up on display or used in service on the 100 route to Sand Bay. With Crosville’s Sentinel steam bus ‘Elizabeth’ joining in the action as well, that meant that the road to Sand Bay got very busy at times! (Photo copyright Paul Jones, used with permission).

Sadly I was committed elsewhere on that day so missed most of the action but did have a couple of hours to spare in the morning so I was able to help ferry some of the heritage buses out to the seafront site, including recently restored Bristol K6A HLJ44 and Bristol FS6G YDL318.

Then it was time to put all the toys away in the box and go home. With local bus routes and private hire bookings unable to run due to the lack of an Operators Licence, the next few weeks were rather sad as the once-busy depot was gradually cleared out. Most of the service buses and coaches were sold off, either for further use or for scrap. I drove two ex-school contract vehicles, Leyland Tiger CRZ9853 and a yellow Dennis Javelin coach (whose number I have already forgotten), up to a coach trimmer near Banbury. In a final twist, each had only been bought for its seats. With most of the ‘modern’ vehicles sold, the vast hangar which served as the Crosville depot looked forlorn.

There was a plan to continue running the heritage fleet, which had a healthy order book for 2018, under the auspices of Southern National (another JJP Holdings company) but this failed to materialise due to licencing issues. All bookings were cancelled and refunded. This had a direct impact on me because I had been, up to this point, managing the bookings and crew rosters for the heritage fleet.

The only part of the company that remained unaffected by the closure was the seafront Land Train so I was planning to survive the summer months on heritage work and driving the Land Train but, without the hoped-for heritage work, my position was unsustainable. There was an abortive attempt to train me as a Driver Trainer for Somerset Passenger Solutions, which provides the construction workers’ transport for Somerset’s Hinkley Point C power station. But neither the job nor the salary were suitable so I looked around for other work.

Part of the fall-out of the Crosville closure was that my nephew had booked a heritage bus for his wedding at the end of May and it had been cancelled. After discussions, the owner of the company kindly let me have a bus for the day, free of charge. So Busman John and his trusty conductor Peter swung into action again for a family occasion! Even Mrs Busman John was roped in on the day before the wedding. I parked the bus, BOC LC8515 (LD6B 972EHW), outside my house so that we could decorate the inside with ribbons and bows. Well, if other people can bring their work home with them, why can’t I?!

So, after a promising start, Crosville and I have parted company. Looking back, you could say that moving up to Weston-super-Mare last August was a mistake but I think otherwise. As a family we are Christian believers and we felt strongly led to this place and believed that it must be for a good reason. This has proved to be the case, for family reasons and for others which I may refer to later. Life’s certainly an adventure, whatever/whoever you believe in!

12 comments on “The final curtain for Crosville

  1. Sorry things did not work out John.
    But as the saying goes, as one doors closes another one opens.

  2. Ray Bounsall says:

    Hi John,
    So sorry to hear of the demise of Crosville. In turn the issues you and your wife face in having recently relocated. I do however support your sentiment that things happen, and whilst initially they seem unfortunate, often I have found that things turn out for the better. I’m sure this will be your outcome.
    I would assume that the Busman’s Holiday blog will cease to be published, and that is also a great shame.
    Irrespective of what the future brings, may I say how much I have enjoyed your writings and thank you for the enjoyment it has brought me.

  3. Alan Bond says:

    Sad news indeed. Hopefully the heritage vehicles will survive to run another day. Good luck to you for the future John.

  4. Robert Boyd says:

    Sad news indeed. I have now read and would highly recommend your book to all.
    It reminded me that in 6th Form, just turned 18, I worked as conductor in Scarborough with United Automobile Services. Other vacations and a gap year brought me to the South of England.
    Your book reminded me that “Duplicate” in the north became “Relief” in the south, Buses returned to the depot in the north rather than the garage as in Salisbury! I wonder how the differences arose?
    I hope things work out for you, you keep a connection with the bus industry and your excellent blog continues.

  5. Ian Comley says:

    I would also like to wish you the best for the future.

  6. Ken Jones says:

    Of course some of the vehicles such as 869 NHT and 972 EHW were not owned by Crosville WSM. so we will still see them around. Quantock Heritage still have excellent vehicles for hire and I crewed a vehicle from West Midlands recently to help them, such is the demand for their vehicles. I hope the blog continues – you can write about driving modern coaches and your experiences. I’ll also be crewing at the Kingsbridge event again this year on September 15th

  7. Alan Dowler-Smith says:

    This is indeed sad, John. I can only hope you get yourself sorted out with new employment very soon – you have a beautiful part of the world to do it in. How about another book? Really enjoyed your last one…..!


    • busmanjohn says:

      Thank you Alan. I’m now working for another operator, which will be the subject of my next blog post.

      Another book is planned for publication next year. More details later.

  8. Mike Harris says:

    Hello John I do hope that you continue with your column – it is most enjoyable. I drove for Crosvile (original company) in the late 60’s, from the West Kirby and Rock Ferry depots. I have fond memories of those times, including being in the first one man group. I now operate a small mini coach business in Dumfries but I would love to get my hands on an ex-Crosville single decker (A Bedford OB is a dream! I only ever drove Bristols with Gardner engines at Crosville). Do the Weston Crosville still have any for sale?

    • busmanjohn says:

      Hello Mike, thank you for your comment. The heritage collection belongs to the owner of the business. While Crosville Motor Services has ceased trading, other parts of his business will continue. As far as I know, none of the buses will be sold.

    • busmanjohn says:

      Mike, if you’re still interested in an ex-Crosville Bedford OB, there is one for sale at the moment. Until recently SL71 (MFM39) was based at the Crosville depot and I can say from personal experience that it’s a lovely vehicle. Contact Paul Smallwood (paul.smallwood [at] for details. It has also been listed in Bus & Coach Presevation magazine for the last few issues.

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