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Gloucestershire’s buses in Stroud since the 1900s
Green back on the Scene
Cotswold Green is a Nailsworth-based, lower cost, niche operator, specialising in supported local bus services and school transport. The traffic commissioner granted a licence to Cotswold Green Ltd on 5 November 2007 (Guy Fawkes Day!). Later that autumn & winter, buses began appearing in a tasteful and welcome return to a largely green livery—perhaps inspired by Asda delivery trucks of the time, perhaps not. Though applied in a very modern style, the chosen colours were redolent of the erstwhile days when Stroud’s buses were largely green. The shade chosen was deliberately akin to the Tilling green used on Stroud’s buses from 1950 to 1972. The large, frontal white swathe added a thoroughly contemporary feel. Ebley Bus Ebley Coaches’ bus and coach business separated in 2004 upon the granting of an operator’s licence in the name of Ebley Bus Ltd. This was reported to be because of fears that the bus side of the business appeared to dominate. Ebley Bus Ltd surrendered this licence upon the formation of Cotswold Green. Ebley Coaches Ltd and Cotswold Green Ltd each have two directors, one of whom appears as a director of both. They also share the same premises near Nailsworth, though since the granting of the Cotswold Green licence, the addresses are nominally different, with Cotswold Green occupying cabins to the right of the garage. Ebley Coaches Ebley Coaches first expanded greatly when a number of school services passed from Stagecoach. 1998 was a milestone when Stagecoach terminated the bulk scholars agreement that hitherto allowed pupils especially from the Downfield Schools to travel on public bus services. Some of the resultant Ebley Coaches contracts involved the collection of fares. Ebley also contented itself with a handful of irregular daytime bus services, principally in rural areas, notably to the north & east of Stroud. One of Ebley’s first services was nevertheless between Stroud and Standish Hospital. It gradually built up local bus service tendered work such that it operated the Stroud – Selsley – Uley – Dursley service, combining this with an extended Nailsworth – Minchinhampton, – Dursley in 2003. Break  Ebley Bus’ big break came in January 2004, when it won a number of local bus contracts, most of which augmented services at that time thinned by Stagecoach. This included services to Chalford, Cirencester, Minchinhampton and Mason Road/Uplands. From August 2005, upon the complete withdrawal by Stagecoach of services in these areas, Cotswold Green became the sole operator on these routes. Cotswold Green’s fleet of some 20 vehicles initially comprised Darts, 709Ds, a solitary Metrorider and, interestingly, two N113CRBs. Ebley Bus Ltd was a staunch operator of the Bristol VR type, withdrawing its remaining examples after last operation of the Summer 2007 school terms, one year after Stagecoach in the Cotswold withdrew its oldest Olympian, also manufactured in Bristol, of course. The designated transport manager (and director) is Robert Arkell, who worked as commercial manager for Stagecoach West, held supervisory roles at Stroud and who was operations manager at Ebley Bus Ltd. The name Cotswold Green was a previous trading name of a partnership of Messrs Arkell and Smee, whose operating centre for up to three vehicles was at Moreton Valance. One of the directors of Cotswold Green has a blog! Although this is not often updated, it tells of the issues (and successes) in operating a small bus company! For those interested, you can read about the comings and goings of the fleet! Meanwhile, Ebley Coaches Ltd continues, now with a largely all-white livery. Reports in early 2009 of its withdrawal from the tours market were premature. As a result, one of its drivers launched Lemon Holidays, though this effectively was stillborn owing to a change of mind at Ebley. In 2009, a statement from Lemon read, “As you may know, we had gone a long way in getting Lemon Holidays set up at the end of 2008, on the understanding that the owner of Ebley Coaches had decided not to do any day excursions for 2009. We are not looking to make huge profits or become millionaires overnight or anything like that but we have enjoyed driving these trips as much as you have apparently enjoyed travelling on them and want to continue to offer you superb value for money breaks. Since then, the owner of Ebley Coaches has decided to carry on doing a day excursion programme which hit our plans quite considerably, and has also been very upsetting for both Audrey and myself”.  A comeback in 2017 resulted in a lack of interest. 2016 Austerity tendering by Gloucestershire county council in 2016 resulted in some surprise losses at Cotswold Green and the part-unravelling of the Cotswold Green network. It first surrendered the Stroud – Uley – Dursley service and later that year the Stroud – Brimscombe – Minchinhampton – Tetbury. Both were won by Stagecoach. Meanwhile, Gloucestershire did not seek to renew the Stroud – Amberley – Minchinhampton 228. That between Stroud and the Stroud – Rodborough amalgamated with Cotswold Green’s existing Stroud – Wotton-under-Edge operation. The town service 8 was extended to Bisley and Oakridge, thereby reducing the overall mileage still further. Cotswold Green retains the 40, above, and the 54 between Stroud, Chalford and Cirencester, although since February 2018 that to Cirencester has seen competition from Stagecoach’s 52, basically a commercial positioning working for Stroud depot’s operations in Circencester, notably to Swindon on the 51. With a reduced income base in terms of financial support and revenue, Cotswold Green was forced to sell its new MAN. When the 40 and 54 are re-tendered, assuming Gloucestershire retains them broadly as is, there is the possibility that Cotswold Green will lose these. If so, this is something of a turnaround in the face of the national trend that sees larger operators doing less well at tender than niche providers.
Cotswold Green RED & WHITE RED BUS _____
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Cotswold Green Ltd
New to Warrington Borough Council in 1991, this 35 seat Dennis Dart midibus had a surprisingly modern look to it, particularly in green and white
In spite of recent changes, Cotswold Green continues as a common site in Merrywalks, here on the 8 to Mason Road, a service now exclusively operated by Cotswold Green (and Ebley Bus before it), from 2006
In 2006, between two good condition Bristol VRs is a Dennis Dart/Carlyle. Though the Ebley livery was majestic particularly on coaches, it did appear somewhat oppressive when compared to the newer green
By the mid-2000s, Ebley has moved to a largely white livery, save for a solitary Beulas in primrose
One of Cotswold Green's most unusual vehicles was 1988 F705 BAT (left), an ex-Hull 49 seat dual purpose Scania N112CR
A sea of green at the Ebley Coaches/Cotswold Green garage, near Nailsworth
At Frampton Mansell on the 54