DISPOSAL OF THE BUSINESS
By Andrew Shouler
During the 1970’s the Wesley business continued to grow and prosper thanks to the hard work of its partners, management and staff.
Being pioneers in the coach tours holiday had given them a leadership position, locally, to the envy of their competitors.
The famous slogan “Travel the Wesley Way” was seen in such diverse places as Scandinavia, North Africa, Austria Switzerland, France, Italy, and Ireland and throughout the United Kingdom. All of this was in addition to the local stage carriage services with the trunk route of Northampton, Stoke Goldington, Olney, Newport Pagnell and Milton Keynes. Indeed it was Wesley’s proud boast, and rightly so that they ran the first bus service through Milton Keynes, (then just a small village) on their Saturday Newport Pagnell Woburn Sands service.
And of course, the various workman’s services still ran for many years from Northampton to Newport Pagnell ferried skilled coach work panel beaters (many of whom had trained at Arthur Mulliner Coachworks and Airflow Streamlines at Northampton) to manufacture the hand beaten bodies of Aston Martin sports cars. In addition to this they ran regular service buses to Vauxhall’s at Luton together with a full daily schedule of School Bus services.
However, as the 70’s progressed the Partners looked to retirement. Bob was already passed the normal retirement age and Bill was approaching it. Their children were in careers unconnected with transport and likewise the children of the Partners' sisters. Hilda, famous for her fair looks and driving ability and her husband Syd (The senior tour driver and latterly depot running foreman) had no children.
The brothers made enquiries as to selling the business. It was an attractive proposition with a large fleet of modern coaches, a large depot yard containing modern workshops, stores and office buildings right on the main road between Northampton and Newport Pagnell and not far from the M1 Motorway. The main attraction however was the excellent selection of licences for extended tours both at home and abroad together with a loyal cliental. Once you had travelled with Wesley’s you rarely afterwards went with others. The hotels were of the highest standards and their attention to detail was superb. You felt that the holiday was arranged just for you and that you were not just a computer generated six digit number.
So attractive was the possible sale that the government owned National Bus Company’s offshoots United Counties and National Travel (East) were interested to purchase in spring 1978. United Counties being the operator responsible for Northampton and Milton Keynes town services wanted Wesley’s services in these areas. The tour licences were wanted by National Travel (East) to expand their programme. At the time it was easier to purchase extant licences as a means to expand rather than attend a Traffic Commissioners Court and to plead for them against opposition from competitors. Ironically when Yorks, the eventual purchaser gave up their Y1 service between Northampton and Milton Keynes in July1994 it was United Counties (by then owned by Stagecoach) which took over the service as Route 36. In the interest of completeness the route passed in summer 2006 to Arriva owned by MK Metro as route 1B.
Unfortunately matters were not concluded and negotiations were commenced with York Brothers (Northampton) Ltd of Short Lane, Cogenhoe, Northampton. These came to fruition in May 1979. Yorks took over Wesley’s interests making front page headline news in the 25th May edition of the local paper The Bucks Standard.
Andrew Shouler. August 2006