Thames Valley Traction Company Limited, Reading

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Named the Thames Valley Traction Company (TV) in 1920, the company can trace its origin to 1915, a subsidiary within the BAT empire, the founders of which lived in Maidenhead. Thomas Tilling invested an early interest and this was to have an influence throughout TV’s existence. During the 1920s and 1930s TV acquired many smaller operators, the most notable being Ledbury Transport (Thackray’s Way) whose express coach licences TV continued to operate until 1950. In 1948 the Tilling group sold out to the British Transport Commission (nationalisation) as a result of which, during 1950, Newbury & District (N&D) and South Midland (SM) were placed under TVs control. In 1952 that part of United Counties that operated in Oxford was transferred to TV and integrated into SM. In appearance SM remained independent retaining their own livery and initially, fleet numbering sequence.

1 Jan 1969 saw the formation of the National Bus Company with the intention of integrating BET and Tilling into larger companies to provide economies in management and maintenance. Until then SM had been based in a heavily BET represented area although under Tilling control. It was therefore natural that it be absorbed into a company within that area and on 1 Jan 1971, control passed to City of Oxford Motor Services (COMS). Just one year later TV merged with Aldershot & District to become ‘Alder Valley’.

With garages at Reading, Newbury, Maidenhead and Newbury, areas of operation extended out to outposts such as Oxford, Aylesbury, Slough, Windsor, Camberley, Aldershot, Odiham, Basingstoke, Hungerford and Swindon, with express coach services continuing outside this area. A number of outlaying districts had ‘dormy’ sheds at which vehicles were out-stationed overnight.

Initial vehicle deliveries were Thorneycroft Js, Tilling-Stevens and Leyland TD and TS, with the first Bristol arriving August 1939. Following an intake of utility Guys during and after WWII, subsequent orders would see most classes of Bristol vehicles represented in the fleet, although TV turned to Bedford for some coaches from 1961. Vehicle transfers/loans/exchanges frequently took place between TV and SM.

Fleet numbering was consecutive until 1963, when a system for new arrivals saw double-deckers numbered Dx upwards, singe-deckers S2xx and coaches C3xx but by 1969 this system was out of favour, when many of the earlier blank numbers were re-used under a new system, built round the class of vehicle, that was never to be completed.

Livery was red and cream or white, the amount varying over the years; SM maintaining maroon and cream. During 1964 TV’s express vehicles too received this maroon and cream livery. TV vehicles were among the first in the country to carry reflective registration plates requiring the driver to carry special authorisation for production when stopped by the police!

The SU's were used mainly on route 18 - Maidenhead to Marlow service due to a weight restriction of 5 Tons on the Marlow Bridge.

SU's Operated

Fleet No Reg No In service Out Service Original Op Remarks
158 845 THY Dec 69 Jan 72 BO 305  
196 668 COD Jan 70 Jan 72 SN 612  
197 669 COD Jan 70 Jan 72 SN 613  
198 844 THY Dec 69 Jan 72 BO 304  
199 846 THY Jan 70 Jan 72 BO 306  

Fleetnames Used

bullet South Midland
bullet Thames Valley

Operating Depots

bullet Market Street, Bracknell
bullet Desborough Road, High Wycombe
bullet Bridge Street, Maidenhead
bullet Mill Lane, Newbury
bullet Botley Road, Oxford (ex United Counties)
bullet Iffley Road, Oxford (ex South Midland)
bullet Lower Thorn Street, Reading (Depot and Head Office)