History of Western Greyhound
In December 1997 by Mark Howarth and his wife Mari started Western Greyhound. At the time they also brought on board Robin Orbell who, like Mark is a former First Group man. After leaving his position as Managing Director of First Western National, Mark and Mari decided to stay on in the West Country and commit themselves to Cornwall.
When faced with the problem of space, the company expanded quickly. A lease was negotiated on the old Harris Coaches’ yard in Summercourt for parking and maintenance, although the Leylands were maintained by Saltash Trucks.
Rural Challenge money became available in December 1998 and WGL embarked on a new venture – bus services! It won service 592 (Newquay-Truro) and 594 (Truro-Wadebridge) for which they ordered three brand-new Plaxton Beaver-bodied Mercedes-Benz Vario 27-seaters, S501 to S503 SRL, painted in striking pink and white livery.
The reason was that WGL wanted its buses to stand out from the crowd. It certainly worked as WGL became very distinctive. The bus services started on 14th December 1998 and as the new Beavers could only be delivered on 1st January 1999, WGL hired in four vehicles from their old friend Simon Munden in Bristol. These came in the form of four Mercedes 709’s, one ex-Swiftlink M675 TNA, and three 20 seaters D408/D413 TFT and E446 AFT, which was subsequently purchased as a spare.
At this stage, WGL took the opportunity to rationalize the minibus fleet, having experienced DAF, Dodge, Ford, Sherpa, Iveco and Mercedes and finding Mercedes to be by far the most reliable and economical. A 24 seat Mercedes 614D Vario, registered R668 DNS, came from Reays in Cumbria and in consequence all non-Mercedes minibuses except the Ford Transit were withdrawn and quickly sold.
A further development took place, when Carminow Taxis, who had been renting the depot at Summercourt, gave notice and WGL immediately took over the lease. This enabled all maintenance to be undertaken on site and some fitters were employed and all outsourcing of maintenance to Saltash Trucks ceased.
WGL also inherited ex-Carminow Plaxton bodied Leyland Leopard 674 SHY which was soon repainted and pressed into service and also Optare City Pacer E915 NEW, which was used as a storeroom, and source of spares for some other operators before being finally sold.
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