LISS & DISTRICT OMNIBUS COMPANY

 

The somewhat complicated story of a Hampshire operator of bygone days 1929 - 1969



Please note - this is a site of historical record and does not contain current service information
  


Situated below the northern slopes of the South Downs, Petersfield is a substantial market town on the rail line connecting Portsmouth and London, at the crossroads of the well-used north–south A3 trunk road and the east–west A272.  Founded in 1929 by Charles Cartwright the main daily route of Liss & District Omnibus ran from Petersfield eastwards to Liphook by way of Sheet, Liss, Liss Forest (where the depot was situated), Greatham and Longmoor; the latter place having a historic army camp and training area, with its own military railway from 1903 until 1969. A second route ran on Saturdays from Petersfield to Hawkley by way of Liss. The business became a limited company in 1940, and heavy passenger loadings were carried to and from Longmoor Camp during the war years.

In July 1945 the business with its fleet of six vehicles was acquired by Basil Williams and incorporated into his Hants & Sussex group of companies. By 1948 the fleet had grown to ten, including some new Bedford OB Duple-bodied 29-seater coaches and a 56 seat Leyland PD1 double deck bus (FOR536).  Route number 1 was allocated to the daily Liphook service and the Hawkley route was numbered 2. During 1949 the latter service was improved to run on Wednesdays in addition to Saturdays. October 1949 saw the introduction of a daily Petersfield town service northwards to Tilmore Gardens and in October 1950 a second town service was introduced in a westerly direction to Princes Road. These were numbered 5 and 6 respectively. The missing numbers 3 and 4 were allocated to services from Petersfield to Midhurst which were licenced to Basil Willimas - the route number sequence was not unique to Liss & District but spanned all the routes in the various parts of the Hants & Sussex group, ranging from 1 to 51.

A perhaps too rapid expansion of the group post-war led eventually to financial difficulties for Hants & Sussex and economies in operation were needed. From the end of May 1954 the two Petersfield town services were withdrawn. At Christmas 1954 the Liss & District business was sold by Basil Williams to Hollands Tours of Oldbury near Birmingham (proprietor Arthur Patrick), who had previously acquired in June 1954 another company in the group, Empress Coaches of Stockbridge.

The new owners from the Midlands did not retain their two acquisitions for long, less than a year in each case. In April 1955 Budden of West Tytherley took over Empress Coaches and in October 1955 Creamline of Bordon (proprietor Charles Wilkins) took over Liss & District.  Why a Birmingham operator should have wished to acquire businesses in Hampshire remains a mystery, perhaps the weekend forces leave services of the two companies were the attraction.

Liss & District return ticket

Resuming the Liss & District story, under Creamline ownership 1957 saw one man operation come to service 1, although a double decker was still sometimes needed on Saturdays (market day in Petersfield). This role was usually fulfilled by VHO123, an AEC Regent 56-seater with Roe body, purchased in 1959.  In that same year Percy Lambert, proprietor of Little Wonder Coaches, a long established Petersfield operator, announced his decision to retire. His company provided services from Petersfield to Buriton, Alresford, Alton and Froxfield. Southdown wished to take over his Buriton route, along with his programme of forces leave express services, but no-one was interested in assuming the other bus routes. With some reluctance following local complaints Liss & District took over the routes from October 1959, to Alresford on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays; to Alton via Ropley on Tuesdays and Saturdays; and the Froxfield circular on Wednesdays and Saturdays. In February 1960 the Alresford route was withdrawn and the Alton and Froxfield routes reduced in frequency.

Further change came when in February 1964 Liss & District was sold to Sydney Jefferys of Grayshott Coaches, based across the county boundary in Surrey, at Grayshott near Hindhead. Economies were needed once again and the Hawkley route was reduced to a feeder service to and from Liss. Operations were concentrated on the garage in Grayshott when the lease on the depot in Liss expired in 1966 and the weekday evening and Sunday services on route 1 were withdrawn. More cuts were to come and in May 1968 route 1 was reduced to Saturdays only, as was feeder route 2. The Alton route from Petersfield was truncated to run West Tisted to Alton and to operate on Tuesdays only. With the rundown of the military presence and the cloure of the military railway at Longmoor all routes ceased to operate in October 1969 and Liss & District was no more.



1964 timetables (route 1 to Longmoor and Liphook scanned in two halves)


The other routes in 1964

     The basic timetable for service 1 changed little over the years, being operated by one bus covered by two driving shifts


first half of Liss route 1 timetable 1964 


second half of Liss route 1 timetable




wartime timetable 1939-1940


wartime timetable 1939-1940




Cover of 1966 timetable booklet and tours guide


cover of timetable booklet 1966


DORSET (RURAL)
DORSET (URBAN) SOMERSET
WILTSHIRE
HAMPSHIRE
FAROE ISLANDS FRANCE (NATIONAL) NORMANDIE ISLE OF SKYE
LINCOLNSHIRE