North West Independents - Book Review

North West Independents - Book Review

One of the recent titles from Venture Publications is Neville Mercer's review of Independent Bus Operators in North West England, number 31 in the Super Prestige series. Although I have been based in Hampshire for over 40 years, my roots are in the North West, Bolton and Lancaster to be precise, so I had to buy a copy! I still have relatives in Lancashire and Westmorland. I visit several times a year - often as a day trip, which used to amaze some of my office colleagues.
Neville makes one very interesting omission - Lancashire United - for two reasons. In many sources, this firm is considered to be one of the biggest independents, if not the biggest in Lancashire. Neville begs to differ. His view is that - like West Riding - it was not a family concern or run under the control of a group of local residents (like Barton, for example), but based on a tramway undertaking which had its offices and directors in London, so it wasn't truly independent. If this isn't enough, Neville refers to the company history published not long ago. The ground's been covered already. Why go over it again? I have to agree with him. Given the formula for this series, including any more thoughts than these few on LUT would have reduced the available space for some real gems.
Another feature of Neville's review is that, like so many of us, he ignores the political meddlers and returns Warrington to Lancashire (from Cheshire) and Grange Over Sands and other parts of the Furness peninsula to Lancashire (from Cumbria). Carlisle is, of course, in Cumberland. Neville starts with a lengthy overview, followed by sections on Cumberland and Westmorland, Lancashire and Cheshire.
There is a section on each of the firms, about many of which a lot of us never knew, and others will have forgotten. Neville discusses the early pioneers and the involvement of the railways. There are references to Crosville, Cumberland and Ribble and their various acquisition strategies, but most of the book considers the likes of Blair & Palmer of Carlisle, Brownrigg of Egremont, Fishwick & Sons of Leyland, the Grange Motor and Cycle Company of Grange Over Sands, Robinson of Appleby, Sowerby of Gilsland and many more. Most photographs are in black and white, but there are several pages of views in colour. The Mountain Goat's services are considered but, on balance, he decides to exclude it from closer scrutiny, with the sentiment that "it won't starve"!
I found it to be a good read, and well worth the pain inflicted on my wallet!

Pete Davies

19/02/14 - 06:26

Can you tell me where I could purchase a copy of the Independent Bus Operators in North West England.
My grandfather and Father ran a Coach Company in Ambleside

Sue Conway

Ps. My family name is Faulkner, and the coach company was Browns Coaches of Ambleside

19/02/14 - 13:50

I bought my copy directly from MDS Book Sales (128 Pikes Lane, Glossop, Derbyshire, SK13 8EH) for £18.75 plus P&P. The ISBN is 978190530 4561 and the Browns of Ambleside enterprise is mentioned under McGregor of Ambleside, on pages 78, 79 and 80 - two illustrations in black and white are on 78. There are no illustrations in the colour section.

Pete Davies

19/02/14 - 17:39

The posting about Browns of Ambleside reminded me that I had a photo of JM 8303 seen when new in Hull with a Barnaby body.
Not sure if this is in the North West book!

Mike Davies

20/02/14 - 06:37

No, Mike, it isn't, but 7316 is!!!

Pete Davies



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