Thu, 23 Apr 2020
MEMORIES of a family-owned bus company that grew from a horse-drawn carrier to become an institution across the Newbury area are being revived in a new book due to be published shortly.
The origins of what became Reliance Motor Services can be traced back to a carrier’s round that woodman James Hedges bought from a neighbour in 1917 to operate between Brightwalton and Newbury.
Reliance founder George Hedges with the 1931 Gilford (fleet no 4) that was his pride and joy
His elder son, George, took over when he came home from war in 1919 and set in motion the beginnings of a motorised service that grew to become one of the most respected independent operators in the UK.
The book telling the story Reliance Motor Services – The Story of a Family-Owned Independent Bus Company is due to be published at the end of the month.
It has been written by George’s grandson, Barrie Hedges, and his school days friend and devoted bus
industry enthusiast David Wilder.
David retired in recent months after nearly 50 years service in the industry, most recently as general manager of Newbury & District.
Together, David and Barrie have pieced together the story not just of Reliance, but also of the local communities whose horizons it helped to expand.
Mr Hedges said: “In the days before most families had cars, country buses made it possible for people to travel to work, to school and for leisure.
“Reliance carried on under huge pressures during the last war and made it possible for women to get to work in local wartime factories and munitions depots; and from the 1950s at the atomic establishments at Harwell and Aldermaston.
“Many people visited the seaside, major events and large cities for the first time by bus.
“Friendships and even marriages were forged on a Reliance bus.”
The book includes memories from the few Reliance drivers and conductresses still surviving.
It also features more than 150 photographs of old vehicles, family, employees and local scenes.
Reliance Motor Services – The Story of a Family-Owned Independent Bus Company will be published by Pen & Sword and you can follow its progress on a new Facebook page Reliance Motor Services – Memories.