Durham District Services Ltd - Darlington

Durham District Services Ltd - Darlington

Durham District Services was formed on the 1st August 1950, (the first day of DDS operations under its own name was 12th November 1950).
It was not as sometimes thought a subsidiary of United Automobile Services Ltd. (UAS), but was wholly owned by the British Transport Commission (BTC) and placed under United for management purposes. The Grange Road Headquarters at Darlington and the Area Traffic Superintendent based in Durham City were responsible for both local networks.
Durham District Services came in to existence after 3 local firms took the attractive offers made to them by the BTC to sell out.
These were The Express Omnibus Co. (Durham) Ltd., the *ABC Motor Services co-operative of Ferryhill, and Darlington Triumph Services.
These 3 operators had the common feature of crossing the 1924 Area Agreement between United and Northern General Transport Co. Ltd., which ran east - west through Durham City, and Easington Village, and a direct UAS takeover would have breached this agreement.
When DDS took over they inherited many pre-war vehicles and most were found to be unsuitable for long term operation and after a short time second hand Bristols were transferred in from the United fleet. The new operator's origins though tended to preserve an attitude of "no connection with the firm next door" at both crew and sometimes supervisory level.
As this is not intended to be a full history of the Company let it suffice to say that DDS continued to serve the people of County Durham for a further 18 years. The process of absorbing DDS into the UAS fleet began at the end of 1967 when the accounts of DDS were transferred to United.
The parent Company applied to take over all the remaining licences held by DDS, and the 65 buses of the Green and Cream fleet, were repainted in to the Red and Cream livery of United and displayed the United fleet name.
The takeover formalities were finally completed on 14th July 1968 when DDS ceased to exist as an operating Company.
It is interesting to note that former DDS vehicles remained to be numbered in a separate series until United's own numbering system was recast in January 1969.

Operating Depots for Durham District Services are shown below:-
Barnard Castle
Darlington - closed in 1961 and vehicles transferred to UAS Depot
Durham - closed in 1961 and vehicles transferred to UAS Depot
Middlesbrough - UAS Depot

*Aaron, Binks, and Coulson, 52 Darlington Road Ferryhill.


Stephen Howarth

EHN 548 is a Bristol L5G new to UAS in 1939 with an ECW B35R body and given fleet number BLO48.
It was rebuilt in 1951 by ECW (Rebuild No. R528) and the fleet number changed to BG62
1954 saw another rebodying again with an ECW body to B35R configuration.
July 1955 saw the inevitable move to DDS as their O168, and other re numbering to DB62 in 1956.
EHN 548 was taken out of service in December 1959.
In January 1960 the Chassis went to Holst (Contractor) in Durham, and the body transferred to DDS DB221 (HHN 207).
The photograph looks to be a posed shoot taken opposite South Park in Darlington, United office staff making up the full load.

SHN 732 is a Bristol LS5G with ECW B45F Bodywork.
It was new to United Automobile Services in February 1954 and allocated fleet number BU42.
It was transferred to the DDS fleet in November 1964 as fleet number DU42.
It was taken out of DDS service in July 1968 and placed back in the UAS fleet as U42.
In November 1968 it was sold to W. North (Dealer), Sherburn-in-Elmet.
The picture shows SHN 732 parked on a side street at the Ferryhill, North Street depot.

SHN 739 Bristol LS5G with ECW B45F bodywork.
New to United Automobile Services as their BU49 in June 1954
It was transferred to the DDS fleet in December 1963 and allocated fleet number DBU9.
In November 1964 it was renumbered to DU9, and transferred back to United in July 1968 as BU49
Renumbered once again in the renumbering exercise of January 1969 to 2049, it was withdrawn.
As DU9 it is seen here in Barnard Castle about to work a service to Middleton-in-Teesdale

575 LHN is a Bristol MW5G with B45F ECW Bodywork.
New to United Automobile Services in June 1960 and given fleet number BU575.
Transferred to DDS in March 1966 and numbered DU575 in their fleet number series.
In August 1968 it was transferred back to United as U575, and again renumbered to 2575 in the January 1969 renumbering exercises.
2575 was withdrawn from service in March 1975.
The picture shows it emerging from the Ferryhill, North Street depot.


04/06/13 - 07:08

Thank you, Stephen, for a wonderful concise history of the DDS. I hope you won't mind me pointing out one minor error. The DDS didn't have a depot at Sedgefield; United acquired the garages at Sedgefield when they acquired Wilkinson's in 1967. Although Sedgefield began operating on the old DDS services which passed through the village, this didn't happen until shortly after the absorption of the DDS by United.
Your photographs are particularly interesting, particularly those showing Ferryhill depot - the side street in which DU42 is standing is Hallgarth Terrace, by the way. The depot still stands - occupied by a motor repair business called something like Express Motors (almost a DDS connection!) and barely altered externally since its days as a bus depot. I must get over there and photograph it while I still can. It has infuriated me for years that I never photographed the old Express depot at Gilesgate Moor despite it being owned latterly by a school friend's father and despite me living about ½ mile away for about ten years and walking past it most mornings and evenings! In Crawford's ownership it was still (like North Street) almost unchanged from 1961 but, all of a sudden it was gone and now it's houses.
Are you intending to expand your article in the future and do you have any more DDS photo gems which will be coming in due course?

Alan R Hall

09/06/13 - 08:25

I thought you may like to see the rather nice letterhead of Darlington Triumph Services one of the operators bought to form Durham District Services.

Stephen Howarth

09/06/13 - 11:31

Every time I look at these pics I puzzle: the Durham livery looks like a sort of United Coaches olive green, but there is one stray HN registered United Bristol, which presumably started life in Tilling Red, here in Tilling Green: but the Durham District fleetname seems to have an olive background... and one has a white rail & another cream (classier). I don't think I have missed this in the expert explanations within this thread.... which was right: the differences are too marked to be a trick of the film process? Was the fleet generally single deck Bristols?


10/06/13 - 06:40

Some of the colours look odd, and this must be a matter of the film process; it looks to me as if SHN 739 is the most authentic.
Following the takeover buses of the constituents were largely replaced by elderly ex-United Bristols of various types, although in due course these were eventually replaced by new LS and MW single deckers, and a few Lodekkas. The livery was the Tilling standard but in green rather than United's red (to make it clear that they were in no way related!)

David Todd

10/06/13 - 06:44

Further to my earlier comment DDS did have some dual purpose seated single deckers (used on their Blackpool service when operating and otherwise usually on D1/D2 Middlesbrough - Sunderland). These did have the United olive green colour, but reversed (e.g. mostly cream with green trim rather than vice-versa).

David Todd

10/06/13 - 08:38

...but, David if you look at the fleet name on the Tilling Green Bristol you will see that its background is olive green... and the "sidestreet at Ferryhill" looks like the office/depot painted in the same colour, so perhaps not a trick of the film?


11/06/13 - 06:55

I have made this comment elsewhere before, although I don't know whether it was on this group. I believe some of these shade variations were the result of film seeing things that the eye did not, possibly because it was ultra-violet light. The effect is that on photographs some buses look like patchwork quilts but in fact didn't look like that in reality. It seems to affect green buses in particular and is probably due to touching up with paintwork thus of a different age and gloss.

David Beilby

11/06/13 - 06:56

David and Joe, in spite of appearances to the contrary in these photos, DDS livery was standard Tilling green and cream but, originally, with green rather than cream mudguards; as can be seen in the LS and MW photos, this distinguishing feature fell into disuse. I think the variations in colour must be attributed to the film, the processing or simply that the shot of DU9 has been taken on a filthy day. We were never aware that those transferred from United and which had previously been red were a different shade so I think this is just an illusion.
Joe, none of the 33 vehicles acquired at the outset from the three constituent companies (Triumph, Express and ABC) were Bristols, being a mixture of Leyland, Guy and Dennis vehicles. In later years the fleet became all-Bristol and was about 75-80% single-deck.
Just for clarification, DU42 is parked in a side-street (Hallgarth Terrace) but the office is in North Street which is a main road.
The livery for coaches and dual-purpose vehicles was originally cream and plum red but, with the arrival of DBE17-21 during the Winter of 1960/61 with green roofs and waistbands, this (cream and green) became the coach/DP livery; these vehicles entered service in May 1961. As well as their use on the D1 & D2 and the D20 (Sunderland-Blackpool), as mentioned by David, they also saw use on the Summer Only D19 between Sunderland and Barnard Castle. This service only operated on certain days of the week: Wednesday (Market Day in Barney) allowing 5 minutes or 8 hours (!) in Barney, Friday evening (one return trip), Saturday (2 return trips) and Sunday (3 return trips). Most journeys connected with the D8 to Middleton-in-Teesdale and one Sunday journey connected with the United services 8 and 23 to High Force although the return connections weren't very satisfactory.

Alan R Hall

12/06/13 - 06:19

I've just noticed an error in my last message: I should have written 'originally with green rather than BLACK mudguards'. Apologies to all who may have found my original incomprehensible.

Alan R Hall



Comments regarding the above are more than welcome please get in touch via the 'Contact Page' or by email at

If you have a bus related article that you would like to appear on this site please get in touch via the 'Contact Page' or by email at

Quick links to  -  Articles  -  Comments  -  Contact  -  Home

All rights to the design and layout of this website are reserved     Old Bus Photos does not set or use Cookies but Google Analytics will set four see this

Old Bus Photos from Saturday 25th April 2009 to Wednesday 22nd September 2021