The History of Coach Hire

The history of coach travel is a long one with many ups and downs and factors inside and outside of the coach industry’s control have led us to where we are now. In this post we give you a whistle-stop run through of coach travel history in the UK.

With the railway rearing its head in the 1800s it wasn’t until the 20th Century that coaches truly took off. The very first coaches were stage coaches, with some forms of coaches referred to as “slippers” and “toastracks” because of their look. People would pile onto a coach, some without roofs, to bobble along around town and to neighbouring towns. Many of these coaches were simply just a chassis, used as delivery vehicles for goods such as coal during the week, and when the weekend came they would bolt seats into the back for passenger trips.

The look of the first coaches resembled the horse drawn stagecoaches of the previous century, with low speeds and an uncomfortable journey due to there being no pneumatics in early motor vehicles. Despite this fact, people were in love with the local coaches, seeing the adventure in the journey.

Yelloways was one of the first organisations to provide fare based services and long distance travel having been established in 1911. After the First World War combustion engines became more reliable, efficient and powerful, helping to breathe more life into the industry. Some men coming back from the war kept surplus lorries and modified them into makeshift buses and goods delivery vehicles.

In the 1920s and 30s there was a boom in the travel industry, with more and more people travelling around the country for pleasure, the atmosphere of camaraderie on board the coaches was half of the fun for many people. After 1937 there was a rise in the amount of people being allowed paid holiday, which helped facilitate these day or weekend excursions and provided a boon for coastal towns and tourist attractions across the country.

While the railway struggled with strikes the coach industry benefited, with the general public showing an insatiable appetite to travel even if the journey did take longer via coach.

Vast numbers of companies sprang up across the country with a myriad of colours and routes, but there were teething problems throughout. WW2 saw a restriction on services as did the introduction of national standards for coaches and drivers by law. One of the biggest blows to the coaching industry came in the form of the motorways and personal cars, allowing people to travel when and where they pleased.

For those who couldn’t afford such luxuries however the coach was still king, as the rail industry failed to cater to the needs of the people, reducing services and their reach by closing stations throughout the UK.

As traffic became heavier it was clear official coach stations were needed and this heralded the opening of the Victoria Coach Station in London. Later a nationalised service was created which some feel killed the atmosphere of traditional coaching by removing colour and individuality from the routes.

Still to this day, though far fewer, there are many companies who provide a personalised and friendly coach service. Here at Wyatt Coaches we pride ourselves on continuing that long tradition with our modern coaches, fitted with all the required amenities. So if you’re planning any kind of coach trip to or from Doncaster this summer, then don’t hesitate to get in touch with us today.