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The earliest form of transport here, as elsewhere in North Devon, was the packhorse, with a pannier on either side of the animal. As roads and lanes improved, carts became more numerous, and from these it was only a step to the horse and cart. Better roads were brought about by the Turnpike Acts in the mid-eighteenth century. Carriers came into business, and a new wave of Turnpike Acts in the 1830s and 1840s encouraged the establishment of regular services.

In 1914, the advantages of the new motor transport struck two Witheridge carriers, the Tidballs and the Thomases. Tidballs got in first in July with their 30hp Overland, Reg T 4442. Thomases were close behind, for in September they took delivery of their 52.6 hp Scout Motor Service Bus, which took over the routes to Tiverton and Exeter. The new motorbuses could be hired for outings, and offered, speed and comfort (padded benches instead of wooden forms). The horsemen of the two families taught themselves to drive the new vehicles and gained their mechanical knowledge as they went along.

In 1920, the two two families decided that there was likely to be strength in union and jointly formed The Witheridge Transport Company. In the twenties there were regular return runs to Tiverton, South Molton, Barnstaple and Exeter. Special excursions were made to fairs, carnivals, shows and as early as 1921, there was a special trip to the Bath and West Show at Bristol. With the thirties came disagreement within the Company about the future. Fred Tidball was keen to expand, but Lambert Thomas preferred to keep to the level of operation as it had been. The result was that in 1932, control of Witheridge Transport passed to Greenslade Brothers of Exeter, which the following year became Greenslades Tours Ltd.

With peace in 1945 the bus business boomed. Tiverton, Witheridge and South Molton were linked four times a day. Greenslade coach hire and touring business expanded, but before long local services became less attractive to the firm. In 1947, Devon General bought the Witheridge services, the goodwill, one bus and spares. Greenslades retained the garage and the private hire business.

In 1949 the Witheridge - Chulmleigh School run began, and Greenslades sold their business to Douglas Venner, a local Thatcher from Drayford. Venners continued the Witheridge business and in 1966 bought Scarlet Coaches of Minehead. The business was sold in 1973 to Powell's of Lapford. Devon General in the early fifties had introduced double-decker buses to the Witheridge-Tiverton and Witheridge- Exeter routes, but car ownership increased and the bus office in The Square closed in 1955. During the seventies services were drastically reduced and, in November 1980, buses ceased to be parked in The Square. AD Coach Sales purchased premises at Newbridge Coach Depot in 1991 from Jack & Jill Yendle (Jack & Jill Coaches). The transport side of the business involved operation of School Transport (under contract to Devon County Council) and some private hire work, rather than bus service routes. The main part of the business has always been Coach Sales. In 2004 they ceased to operate PSV vehicles on contract to DCC. Now, the only remaining Public Transport service provided by AD Coach Sales is the recently introduced Devon Fare Car Service F9.

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Last Edited 03/07/2006    Copyright © 2000-2006 Witheridge

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