Whitehaven Motor Service

In October, 1912, the Whitehaven Motor Service Company started the first regular bus service between Whitehaven and Cleator Moor. The first buses were a second-hand Arrol Johnston and a Commercial Car charabanc. Their names were Lady Favourite and Lady Florence.

On 1st June, 1921, the company became Cumberland Motor Services Limited having expanded to run services between Whitehaven and Carlisle, Keswick, Cleator Moor and Egremont and between Carlisle and Abbeytown and Maryport and Cockermouth.

By the 1930s, the buses acquired fast feline names like Leyland Lion and Tiger. The buses had taken on much the same overall shape as today’s vehicles, with the driver’s cab positioned right at the front.

The first double-deckers, the unsuccessful Guy FCX, were purchased in 1927, but the mainstay of the fleet throughout the thirties was the Leyland Titan, with its enclosed staircase and sloping windshields. Buses were everywhere on Cumberland’s roads, taking workers to coal mines, steelwork and a host of factories – and everyone about their business in the town or the country.

In 1969, Cumberland Motor Services became part of The National Bus Company (NBC). This was a nationalised bus company that operated in England and Wales between 1969 and 1988. NBC did not run buses itself, but was the owner of a number of regional subsidiary bus operating companies.

Buses were operated by locally managed subsidiary companies, with their own fleet names and liveries. In the early years of the company, there was some rationalisation, generally leading to the amalgamation of operators into larger units and the transfer of areas between them.

From 1986 buses were deregulated and progressively privatised, and the remaining larger companies were forcibly broken up. NBC was divided into 70 units. The last sale was completed in April 1988.

Stagecoach Cumbria & North Lancashire is a major operator of bus services in North West England. It is a subsidiary of the Stagecoach Group, and has its origins in the purchase of Cumberland in 1987 and Ribble in 1988 from the National Bus Company. The head office of Stagecoach Cumbria & North Lancashire is in Carlisle.

The art-deco style bus station in Whitehaven was opened in 1931 and was the hub of a group of buildings which included the adjacent head office, garage and paintshop facilities. When it opened, it was one of two in the whole country to be covered over with a roof.

Major refurbishment was carried out as late as 1991 which included re-roofing, new stands and new windows.

George Brockerton, a former Irish road racer was given the honour of driving the very first bus out of the new bus station. During the opening ceremony he lurched forward into the crash barrier causing extensive damage to both the barriers and the brand new bus. He was obviously a better motorcycle rider!

Today, the old Bus station in Whitehaven is set to receive £4.1 million in funding to transform the building into a innovative business centre, called the Buzz Station.

Whitehaven Bus Station
Whitehaven Bus Station c1960


Whitehaven had been small harbour and fishing village from 13th century or earlier. Expansion began in mid-17th century with building of piers by Lowthers 1632-4 and 1679-81 and granting of market charter 1660. By the 1680s it had grown rapidly, expanding from village of c.30 households in early 17th century to a town of over 1,000 inhabitants by 1685, which more than doubled to 2,281 by 1696. Sir John Lowther had laid out grid of streets by 1680s, making Whitehaven the earliest planned new town in post-medieval Britain.

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