The Western National Omnibus Company Ltd, which was a part of the National Bus Company, was split up on 1st April 1983. It became:-
Western National Ltd, based in Plymouth,
Southern National Ltd, based in Weymouth,
North Devon Ltd, based in Barnstaple,
Devon General Ltd, based in Exeter incorporating Torbay Bayline Ltd, based in Torquay
Western National Ltd, is now owned by the First Group.
Devon General is now owned by the Stagecoach Group,
and known as Stagecoach Devon.
Southern National and North Devon Red Bus were purchased from the National Bus Company in March 1988, in a combined transaction involving both sets of management's. A company called Cawlett Ltd was set up to act as a holding company.
Southern National, through Cawlett Ltd, has since acquired Brutonian of Bruton in Somerset, Smiths of Portland and Pearce, Darch & Wilcox of Martock. While the Brutonian fleet was absorbed, the others retained their own identity.
In April 1993, the Cawlett Group acquired Taylor's Coaches of Tintinhull, which retains its independent existence.
In 1994 Bere Regis & District sold the bulk of its stage, contract and coaching work to the Cawlett Group. These operations were organised as West Dorset Coaches Ltd, trading as Dorchester Coachways, operations commenced in the March of that year. A new colour scheme of white, with an orange roof and grey skirt panels was introduced in September the same year.
Smiths of Portland was returned to the independent sector by 1996, and was re-acquired in January 1998. Smiths of Portland was closed down 4/9/99.
The Cawlett Group was sold to First Group on 8th April 1999. First North Devon Red Bus came under the control of First Western National in June 1999, and at the same time, First Southern National came under the control of First Bristol.
The First Bus Group own all of the major bus companies in the South West of England, from south-westward of a line from Bristol to Weymouth, apart from the Exeter and Torquay areas with buses operated by Stagecoach Devon, and Plymouth Citybus in the Plymouth area.
First Southern National has garages at Bridgewater, Bridport, Taunton, Weymouth, and Yeovil, and outstations at Dorchester, Martock, Tintinhull. Also included are the fleets of Taylor's Coaches and West Dorset Coaches.
Pearce, Darch & Wilcox and Smiths have been absorbed and closed down.)
Preserved former Western National Pictures
Current Fleet list
1986 Fleet list
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