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SAFEGUARD COACHES

The bus services of a long established family business in Guildford.  1924 to 2014  -  90th anniversary year

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




A family business still and nearly ninety five years old, the firm was founded in 1924 by Mrs Annie Newman, and is now run by the fifth generation of the same family.  Calling themselves Surrey's premier coach and bus operator,  Safeguard have been providing local bus services and luxury coaches to Guildford and the surrounding areas from the days of the charabanc to the present modern fleet of some seven buses and thirty coaches. The first bus route commenced in 1927 with two 14 seat Chevrolets going from town via Woodbridge Hill to the Aldershot Road estate at Woodside.  A third vehicle followed and a new service to Onslow Village via Guildford Park.  Competition was ever present from Aldershot & District but agreement was reached in 1929 that Safeguard would operate to Woodside, Aldershot & District to Onslow Village and both companies would serve Guildford Park.  In time the Woodside route was extended to Westborough and in later years to Park Barn; whilst the Guildford Park route would reach Dennisville. 

With Guildford lying on the boundary line between London Transport's Country Buses and Aldershot & District there was always some scope for independent operators like Safeguard, Yellow Bus Service and Tillingbourne. There were some challenging and unprofitable years in the 1930s but the wartime years bought Safeguard heavy loadings and post-war years bought further route development with a route for Northway starting in 1947 (terminating temporarily in Westway until a link road into Northway was completed in 1951)  and in the following year 1948 Park Barn was reached from Westborough.  With increasing loadings on the Dennisville route a double-decker HWA787 was acquired in 1950, a second hand Guy Arab II / Weymann from Sheffield Corporation.  It was the firm's only double-deck vehicle and stayed for just two years; subsequently the continuing heavy loadings required the introduction of the first 36 foot long single deckers in the area.  The first was AEC Reliance / Willowbrook 1637PF, a 53-seater. In 1963 the Dennisville route was diverted to serve the Cathedral then in 1970 certain journeys were diverted to serve the new University of Surrey. Coaching activities continued to grow in importance and the business of Cookes Coaches of Stoughton was bought in 1966. Excursions, weekend breaks and holiday tours were further developed, and additional licences were obtained from Conway Hunt of Ottershaw in 1975. This extended the tours pick-up area into Woking and Chertsey.


ticket

A major reorganisation of all operators bus services in Guildford took place in 1979.  Vehicles of local operators were operated under the Weyfarer brand name with an interavailable ticket. The Safeguard services to Park Barn were not altered but the Northway route was incorporated into one of Alder Valley's services (as successors to Aldershot & District).   Joint operation continued to Dennisville but Safeguard gained an extension from this as a cross-town route from Royal Surrey County Hospital to Bellfields Estate (being shortened to G3 town centre to Bellfields in a further reorganisation in 1984). In earlier years Bellfields had been the province of Yellow Bus of Stoughton. The route diversions to the Cathedral and University were discontinued at this time through insufficient patronage. The fleet in 1981 comprised nineteen vehicles: six buses, twelve coaches and a minibus. By the time of Safeguard's diamond jubilee in 1984 there were twenty vehicles in the fleet; a souvenir booklet was produced at the time. A proposal was put forward about that time jointly by Safeguard, Tillingbourne and Blue Saloon to take over all of the town services themselves. After some favourable consideration by the local authority it was impractical to proceed.  Another significant acquisition by Safeguard was that of the business of Farnham Coaches in 1988.

In 2000 Safeguard gained the contract for the Guildford Shuttle, a free service connecting various parts of Guildford town centre.  Then in 2002 Safeguard lost some school bus work and the Onslow routes 10 and 11 passed to Countryliner after ten years operation. At the time the bus fleet was cut from ten to seven vehicles. In August 2008 the Guildford Shuttle was withdrawn with the council saying it was costing too much. There was considerable opposition to this, so from January 2009 Safeguard reintroduced the service commercially.  It was finally withdrawn in May 2010, at which time further changes took place to the town services in Guildford. Safeguard withdrew from shared operation with Arriva on the G3 route to Bellfields Estate and in exchange took full control of the G4 and G5 routes, connecting Park Barn and the Royal Surrey County Hospital with the town centre.

The timetable below represents the local service operations as they were in 1988, including not only the traditional town services in Guildford but also the post-deregulation expansion onto the Aldershot to Camberley route.  Coming forward to the spring of 2014 we find Safeguard still operating the circular services from Guildford to Woodbridge Hill, the Hospital and Park Barn (services 4 and 5 according to direction as successors to G4 and G5 below and now marketed as
intotown). The Merrow park and ride service 300 passed to another operator in August 2013. With a fleet of nine buses and twenty six coaches and a 1956 heritage AEC Reliant bus (200APB) the company continues to serve the Guildford area as it has done for ninety years, and has even equipped their buses with wifi for passengers use.




local services



1988 cover



The operators website can be found here: Safeguard Coaches  Ltd

The full story can be found in Safeguard Coaches by Laurie James published in March 2014



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