Wednesday 22 March 2023

Macclesfield Matters (2A)

More From The Mafia

Dom Juliano  contacted fbb with a thinly disguised warning. "Don't write about Arriva's pull-out of Macclesfield" he said in a husky and threatening stage whisper. "There are "things" to be sorted."

fbb can take a hint.

Dom continued, "But 'The Family' thinks you should take a look at C-Line".

Who is fbb to ignore the considered advice of the Middlewich Mafioso Mototbussa?

But beware - It's complicated!

Where to begin?

Drawlane and its immediate successor British Bus were part of the empire of Dawson Thomas Williams.
The two companies were very much the outsiders in the mad National Bus sell off, but they ended up with a whole list of companies.
One of the group's more outlandish activities was to start competitive minibus services in Manchester as the Bee Line Buzz Company.
It moved in to double deck operations with, amongst other marques, a batch of West Midlands double deckers.
Bee Line also competed against Manchester PTE with some ex Manchester buses.
That must have been quite galling!

So Bee Line moved into Crosville's depot in Macclesfield with an operation branded C-Line! The depot  accumulated a wide range of tat from elsewhere in the group. The management seems to have been in the hands of Midland Red North, so Stevensons (of Spath as was!) buses appeared incongruously in Macclesfield.

De-branded Bee Line buses also popped in ...
... and a few VRs.
It was a right hotch-potch.

Then British Bus sold out to Cowie, originally a car dealership from London. The company was named after its Chairman, Tom.

T Cowie Ltd was floated on 31 December 1964, and bought its first main car dealership (Vauxhall), the next year. Cowie's developed the leasing of fleet cars, and in 1979 acquired a London business with a division called Grey-Green Coaches, nucleus of the later public transport empire. By 1987, after acquiring Interleasing from the Hanger Group, 60 per cent of trading profits came from the company's finance division.

Grey-Green was one of the first sub-contractors to London Transport with its route 24 from Hampstead Heath to Pimlico.

The route in unchanged today.

Sadly Sir Tom fell out with the company he had created and absolutely hated its decision to rename.
Meanwhile the former owner, Dawson Williams, was not getting on too well.
His "activities" did him no good at all.
So in a very complex nutshell, that is how Arriva came to run the buses in Macclesfield.

Told you it was complicated.


Thanks to Mrs fbb, something of an expert in modern technology (NOT) for spotting the above.

fbb will complete his blogs on Macclesfield once Dom Juliano approves. fbb has no desire to be given a concrete overcoat!!

 Next Buda and Pest blog : Thursday 23td March 


  1. T.Cowie Ltd hailed from Sunderland. When they bought George Ewer & Co it was as much for the motor dealership side of their business, based in Hampshire, as for the coaching. At the time this was made up of Dix (in East London), Grey-Green (in North and East London), Orange Luxury (complete with Royal Warrant) and World Wide (both in South London).

  2. Drawlane didn't set up Bee Line Buzz Company, it was set up by BET (yes that BET, after their UK bus operations were nationalised they still had such activities elsewhere in the world and after deregulation they reappeared with a new operation) with new minibuses on a massive scale and it was only after sale to Drawlane that the many minibuses were replaced by elderly big buses.

    I did previously point out that FBB was precipitous in reviewing the new networks now as it was still very much a work in progress with final networks still being worked on by operators & councils.

  3. British Bus most certainly did not start the Bee Line operations in Manchester. That was United Transport, effectively a modern day incarnation of BET. It was bought by Ribble in 1988, before being sold (by Stagecoach, which had acquired Ribble) the following year to Drawlane.
    Internet research will not necessarily reveal all of this easily - printed books and contemporary magazines remain very valuable for checking on historical events!

  4. What's going on with Grey cars down your way, N&P shows licence revoked end March?

  5. Banged up with Dawson in Ford back in the day and Ian both top fellas

    1. If British Bus hadn't acquired M&D in 1995 then I may have kept my job in the bus industry. The bloke was clearly a crook.