Plus parts of the South Hams and West Devon

  Brian Moseley, Plymouth
Webpage created: August 08, 2019
Webpage updated: August 10, 2019




When Lieutenant-Commander Francis Theodore Hare retired from the Royal Navy at the end of the Great War he needed something to keep him occupied.  Thus it was that on December 3rd 1919, with a Mr Henry James Grierson, he founded the Devon Motor Transport Company Limited.  It was a road haulage business and had its registered office at East Bridge House, Okehampton, with an administrative office at 7 Fore Street.

Gradually the operation of motor buses was added to the activities and in 1920 a service was started from Okehampton to Tavistock, running on market days.  The livery of the vehicles was green and white.

Early in 1922 the Company opened a road haulage depot at Bath Place in Plymouth, down by the arches near Plymouth Station at Millbay.  Business was not as successful as had been expected and on Thursday April 20th they extended their motor bus service number 12, Okehampton to Tavistock, into Plymouth.  This proved to be more successful and shortly afterwards they sold all their bus services east of Dartmoor to the Devon General Omnibus and Touring Company Limited in order to concentrate their efforts on developing services from Okehampton and Plymouth.

Carefully avoiding a route 13, this was quickly followed, on Monday August 14th 1922, with a new Service 14 from Princess Square, Plymouth, to Ivybridge, augmented by two short-run journeys to Plympton only.

With the start of the winter service on Monday October 9th 1922, DMTC started another new service, the number 15 from Plymouth to Tamerton Foliot.

The Company did not have an office in Plymouth but directed enquiries to their agent, Mr T Pengelly, tobacconist, whose premises were opposite Derry's Clock.

Ermington was the next destination to be linked to Plymouth when, on Monday March 5th 1923, DMT started its service from Plymouth via Yealmpton.  It is understood that no Route Numbers were allocated to services introduced from 1923 onwards.  By this time the Traffic Manager's office was at 10a Princess Square but it had moved to 18 Whimple Street by July.  It was also linked to the telephone network as Plymouth 1632.

During the first week of September 1923 a new service to Wembury via Elburton was started, the first timetable being published on 6th.  Interestingly, the Ivybridge service had been renumbered Route 3 by that time and from Monday August 13th was augmented by seven local journeys which terminated at Mr Harry Stephen's Stores in the Ridgway.

By May 1924 the Ivybridge service had been extended to Bittaford, South Brent and Totnes, although not all the buses ran that far.  Similarly Crownhill had bus every 15 minutes thanks to the services to Tavistock, Tamerton Foliot and Higher St Budeaux, the last-named having been taken over from a Mr Abraham Edward Peachey, a taxi-cab proprietor, who ran a service from Plymouth to Honicknowle.

From June 11th 1924 the Ermington route was extended to Ugborough although most of the services continued to terminate at Yealmpton.

At some point during 1924 the Company took over Mr Peachey's motor bus service to Crownhill and extended the service to Saint Budeaux.

On Tuesday September 23rd 1924 a new service to Cornwood was started.

When the Winter timetable came into force on Wednesday October 1st 1924 there was a new innovation -- a circular service.  The service to Ugborough was cut back to Ermington once again but now it was run via Caton to Ivybridge, where it linked up with the Plymouth to Ivybridge service.  Buses now ran in both directions.

  • DMTC Plymouth to Ivybridge, Caton, Ermington, Plymouth (circular)

One further acquisition in 1924 was Messrs A C Turner ("Turner's Tours"), who garage at Kirkby Place, North Road, became the new Plymouth home for DMTC's vehicles, allowing the Company to close the old premises at West Hoe.

Sometime towards the end of October 1924 (it first appeared in the timetables published on Thursday October 30th) another new service was started.  This augmented the route to Yelverton and then took the road to Dousland (for Burrator) and Walkhampton.

However, by the following year the buses terminated at Dousland and yet another new service had been started, from Devonport to Yelverton, replacing the route to Roborough previously operated by the "Sanfairyan" bus of Messrs Sharp and Company.  In October 1925 Noss Mayo on the river Yealm was the destination of a new service via Yealmpton GWR Station and Newton Ferrers.  During the year the timings on the Modbury road were co-ordinated with those of the Great Western Railway's Road Motors so as to reduce wasted competition.

But the Company still faced competition from smaller operators.  A Mr Packer had operated a service from Tamerton Foliot to Plymouth and this was later taken over by a Mr C H Took.  In 1926 his service was absorbed into DMTC's.

By the mid-1920s the fascination of the motor bus had taken a grip and DMTC found itself facing much competition, especially on the lucrative Plymouth to Exeter road.  This resulted in what has become known as "The Battle of the Colours", with DMTC's green buses vying with the red and white double-decker buses of the Plymouth and District Motor Services, the blue liveried vehicles of HB Buses, and the grey buses of Messrs Goad Brothers aptly mis-named Red Ensign fleet.  The pressure proved too much for Plymouth and District, who gave up in 1926, and for Goad's, who in May 1927 started negotiations with Devon Motor Transport.

This process of eliminating the competition continued in 1927, with Mr R H Baker's "Rex Tours" excursion business being taken over.

The introduction of the Summer Timetable on Monday May 16th 1927 saw the Dousland service extended to Princetown and a new service to South Brent and Buckfastleigh and a new circular service covering Bickleigh, Shaugh Bridge, Lee Moor, Sparkwell, Hemerdon and Marsh Mills.

Although not mentioned as a new service, the timetable published on May 26th that year included for the first time a service from Plymouth to Egg Buckland.   Curiously it was not even mentioned a couple of weeks later but had been re-instated by September 1927.  A second new route was to Clearbrook and Meavy.

At midnight on Saturday December 31st 1927 two important events took place.   The first was the take-over by DMTC of the Tamerton Foliot service of Mr Ambrose Octavius Facey, operating as "Pioneer Saloons".  His two vehicles had operated an hourly schedule for many years, having taken over from Mr Charles Vicary, a shopkeeper and one of the village carriers.

Also that night the Devon Motor Transport Company Limited was taken over by the National Omnibus and Transport Company Limited.