United Automobile Services

United Automobile Services[1] was a bus operator operating in North Yorkshire, North East England and parts of Cumbria. It provided bus services across England’s widest geographical area, stretching from Berwick-upon-Tweed on the Scottish border, south to Filey in North Yorkshire.

Bus operator

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United Automobile Services

Preserved Bristol L5G in May 2009
Founded 1912
Headquarters Darlington
Service area North East England
North Yorkshire
Service type Bus operator

. . . United Automobile Services . . .

United was founded in Lowestoft in 1912, with two routes, one in Suffolk and one over 200 miles away between Bishop Auckland and Durham. During the 1920s, the company expanded into Norfolk and south Lincolnshire, and in Northumberland, County Durham and North Yorkshire. In 1929 control passed to the Tilling Group and the London and North Eastern Railway,[2] and in 1931 the new owners split off the East Anglian operations into a separate company, Eastern Counties Omnibus Company.[3][4]

United also started East Midland Motor Services. This came about through the desire to expand. One of their managers, W.T. Underwood, was sent to Clowne (near Chesterfield) to set up a bus company in his own name. The Underwoods company later became East Midland.

United was nationalised in 1948, and controlled first by the British Transport Commission, from 1 January 1963 by the Transport Holding Company, and from 1 January 1969 by the National Bus Company.

Preserved Bristol LH in October 2009

The company ran vehicles from its head office in Darlington and garages across their area, including Durham, Hartlepool, Whitby and Peterlee amongst others. Most of those vehicles were Bristols with Gardner engines and Eastern Coach Works bodies, the LH and VR being common vehicles. Another vehicle commonly used was the Leyland National. United were one of only three operators (and the only English operator) to buy the Bristol REMH12-metre (39 ft) coach chassis.[5] These 35 vehicles, which had Plaxton Panorama Elite III 49-seat coach bodywork, were delivered between 1971 and 1975.[5][6]

During the mid-1980s, after deregulation, a huge number of Mercedes-Benz and Dodge S56 minibuses were purchased by United for use on new ‘town’ services in many areas, some replacing existing United ‘big bus’ services and others on brand new services which were highly competitive with local authorities existing routes (notably the Darlington and the Hartlepool networks). Most were branded with names such as Roadranger (Darlington), Clipper (Whitby), Hoppa (Hartlepool) and Panther (Peterlee) amongst others. These new minibus routes ran around housing estates to a Hail and Ride system and after some initial controversy, these services proved successful for United, most notably in Darlington where the minibus network was hugely expanded.

In the lead up to privatisation, the Northumberland and Scarborough areas were separated into two new companies, Northumbria Motor Services[7] and Scarborough & District[8] in 1986, with the latter then being transferred to East Yorkshire Motor Services.[9]

On 2 December 1987, as part of the privatisation of the National Bus Company, United was sold to Caldaire Holdings who had earlier purchased West Riding Automobile Company.[10][11][12]

In 1990, the Cleveland and Middlesbrough operations were separated and renamed Tees & District, with the Stockton-on-Tees depot operating as TMS (Teesside Motor Services).[13][14][15]

In 1992, United was sold to the Westcourt Group.[16][17] It was sold in 1995 to National Express, and again in 1996 to the Cowie Group.[18] Today it is part of Arriva North East.

. . . United Automobile Services . . .

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. . . United Automobile Services . . .

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