In late February 1924, Croscols, a bus company, wrote seeking permission from the Town Council, to start a daily bus service between Bampton and Tiverton. They proposed using a 20 seater bus and were offering to submit a timetable. They felt that the service would be well used. There was, however, quite a discussion reported in the Tiverton Gazette. The Railway had recently received permission to open a ‘halt’ at Cove. The Councillors were concerned to know how much income they might get from the bus company compared to the £60 a year they received in rates from the train company.

We have a timetable in our collection showing that Croscols were already operating a service from Uffculme, twice a week, and Cullompton, at least three times a day, to Exeter via Bradninch and Pinhoe.

In the early 1920s, the rural bus services were recent competition for the railways especially along the route of the Exe Valley line. In the archive and photo collections at the Museums, we have several items relating to these early bus services.

Our catalogue suggests that this photo of the Witheridge bus belonged to ‘Tidball and Thomas’.

An old fashioned bus parked next to a pavement with a man in a driver's outfit and hat standing next to it. There are buildings in the background.       

However, these clippings from the photo collection would seem to show that there were two operators on the route.


A newspaper clipping reading 'Tiverton Show Thursday July 30th. We invite you to inspect on our stand The New Motor which has been purchased from us by Mr. Thomas Tidball of Witheridge, and which he intends to use as a public conveyance between Witheridge and Tiverton. It is the most up-to-date vehicle of its kind on the market.'

It sounds as if the Thomas Brothers, at this time, only had one vehicle. The date of these adverts is unknown.

Newspaper clipping reading 'New Motor Bus Service between Witheridge, Tiverton & Exeter.' It also lists some bus times and lets people know that they can book private charter with the company.

From our library, ‘Wheels Around Witheridge’ gives details of the Tidball and Thomas families. They were both important carriers long before the advent of the petrol engine, running horse drawn vehicles to Tiverton and Exeter. Tidballs also served South Molton once a week. This booklet also confirms that the advert above, placed by H J Lane, the maker of the first Tidball bus, was for the Tiverton Show in 1914. It also shows that the two firms merged, as early as 1920 and became known as the ‘Witheridge Transport Company’.

Written by Museum Volunteer, Sue B