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Associated Motorways - routes in 1968

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Associated Motorways’ was formed as a result of the Road Traffic Act 1930, which encouraged competing coach operators to co-ordinate their services. In 1934 six coach operators came together to form Associated Motorways’, to pool their services between the Midlands and the south and west of England and between London and South Wales. The founder members were: Black & White (Cheltenham), Red & White (Chepstow), Royal Blue, (Bournemouth), Greyhound (Bristol) Midland Red (Birmingham) and United Counties (Northampton).

Associated Motorways' was an early example of a travel brand. It did not own or run any coaches. Each member company committed itself to providing an agreed mileage of coach journeys for Associated Motorways’ and took an agreed share of the profits. The pool mainly operated the hub and spoke model, the hub being the art-deco Cheltenham Coach Station which Black & White opened in 1931.

The consortium had to suspend operations during World War II from 1942 to 1946, but prospered thereafter. New members joined: Lincolnshire and Eastern Counties in 1956, Crosville in 1965 and finally Southdown in 1972. All of the members (except Black & White) also operated their own bespoke express coach services outside of the consortium.

On a peak summer weekend the consortium could have over 800 coaches on the road. Every day, coaches from all over England and Wales converged on Cheltenham Coach Station and exchanged passengers with each other. At 2pm an inspector blew his whistle, and all the coaches departed on-mass for hundreds of towns and cities across Britain. It caused temporary traffic chaos in the centre of Cheltenham, especially on busy summer Saturdays!

Two things killed Associated Motorways'. First, the expansion of the motorway network during the 1960s and ‘70s made coach services faster and more direct. It made the Cheltenham services, which mainly only ran daily uncompetitive. Second, in 1973 the National Bus Company formed National Travel (later National Express) to run coach services with a greater emphasis on more frequent, direct and quicker routes. Travel trends had changed and interchanging at Cheltenham was no longer an attractive proposition.

Cheltenham Coach Station closed in 1984 and was finally demolished in the late-1990s. The plot on St Margaret’s Road, where it once stood, is now a temporary car park awaiting redevelopment.

During Ruby's Golden Anniversary we shall be illustrating examples of the express coach routes that she worked in her first year in service in 1968.
Each month we shall present for you a different ASSOCIATED MOTORWAYS express coach services timetable from fifty years ago.

The fifth Associated Motorways route Ruby probably operated regularly in the late 1960s and early 1970s.
CARDIFF - BLACKPOOL via Newport, Monmouth, Hereford, Shrewsbury, Birkenhead, Liverpool.

Cardiff-Blackpool

Click on the images below to see other ASSOCIATED MOTORWAYS timetables from 1968 that Ruby probably operated regularly.

GWO1D Cheltenham

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