Thursday, 13 February 2020

'National' Centenary

2020 is a year of significant anniversaries from our transport heritage along the Thames Valley & Great Western corridor.

Today, 13 February 2020, marks the centenary of the National Omnibus & Transport Company Ltd. On this day in 1920, the company's name was officially registered and changed from the National Steam Car Company Ltd, recognising that, by then, all of the company’s operations used petrol engined motorbuses. 

'National' 2009, originally a World War 1 army lorry, purchased by
the National Steam Car Company in 1919. It was fitted with this
second hand clerestory roofed body, re-registered XA8366 and
moved to the West Country in 1920. (TV&GWOT Archive)

'National' was expanding rapidly to the east and north of London and establishing new operations in the West of England. It completed the purchase of a business in Stroud whose licence was transferred to 'National' on 17 February 1920. 

By the late Spring of 1920, services had been established from Stroud, Bridgwater, Yeovil and Taunton which hailed the development during the 1920s of a bus network covering the South West from Land’s End as far as Cheltenham in Gloucestershire, Devizes in Wiltshire and Bournemouth in Hampshire.  These were, of course, important foundations of the much celebrated Western and Southern National Omnibus Companies that would later be formed, incorporating the road operations of the local railway companies.

AD 6863 was an AEC YC, pictured on one of the earliest routes from Stroud, this
one running from Chalford through Stroud to Stonehouse. (Peter Davey Collection)

We will be celebrating the centenary of 'National' throughout the year, particularly at Penzance Vintage Bus Running Day on 19 April, on our Royal Blue Run in June, and at Kingsbridge Vintage Bus Running Day in September. 

For more details of these events visit, where you can also sign-up for our quarterly magazine and find out more about getting involved and supporting  the Trust.

'National' 2018 (BM 7763), an AEC YC, at the terminus in
Corporation Street, Taunton awaiting departure to Wellington
in 1920. (Brian Veale Collection)