Sheffield United Tours Limited



Originating on 31st December 1926, Arthur Kitson commenced trading in charabancs with the purpose of providing transport for private hire and excursions for patrons of Sheffield and the surrounding area. However, after only eight years of operation he decided to sell out to the British Electric Traction subsidiary of Yorkshire Traction (YTC) in Barnsley, who purchased the entire shareholding on the 18th December 1934.

Yorkshire Traction resold half the shares almost immediately to the Chesterfield based company of East Midland Motor Services (EMMS), this company again being part of the British Electric Traction group.

Sheffield United Tours LimitedOther companies were approached with a view to takeovers, some by the shareholding companies , others by Kitson himself. John Grocock of Ellesmere Road was acquired in January 1935 together with Ernest Warriner of Rock Street, George Thomas Nicholson of Burns Road-all Sheffield based whilst the coaching interests of Aaron Frost Hancock of Bamford in Derbyshire was also purchased.

February 1935 would see Jack & Wilfred Kavanagh of Blonk Street in the city added to the growing new empire. The original operating title of Arthur Kitson Ltd was superseded by that of Sheffield United Tours Ltd on the 1st March 1935. It was decided to operate excursions and express under the United Motor Services banner whilst Tours and private hire would operate under the Hancocks Motor Tours title.

The image of the fleet was to change with the adoption of a new livery of Oyster Grey & Red which was to replace the myriad of colours previously seen on the constituent companies vehicles.

Sheffield United Tours LimitedThe coaching side of the William Caudle haulage business situated on Queens Road in the city was purchased in May 1935. Shortly afterwards, the North Western Road Car Company of Stockport lodged an objection with the two existing shareholders stating they were in a similar position to both YTC and EMMS in that it too operated services to and from Sheffield and was therefore entitled to a one third share. Eventually this was agreed and shareholding divided equally between the three. During April 1936, Harold Barker of Doncaster Gate in Rotherham was acquired whilst in March of the following year, A&L Bailey of Earsham Street, Sheffield succumbed.

A new garage was built at Charlotte Road to house the entire fleet, opening in May 1937. No further takeovers were to be undertaken before the war but this was to change in 1953. The Beauchief Coaches enterprise of Abbey Lane Motor Services was taken over on the 20th May that year. This company had been established in December 1930 and had absorbed the fleets of Brooks & Senior of Abbeydale Road during May 1933 and followed this up with the purchase of Samuel Bernard Hogg of Pitsmoor Road in May 1936.

Sheffield United Tours LimitedIt wasn’t until June 1957 that the next acquisition was to be made which was that of Gladys Hibberd of City Road. Following closely was another Derbyshire company by the name of Edwin Pashley of Brookside Garage in Bradwell who sold out on 1st July 1958. The garage here was retained for a number of years afterwards as an outstation.

Emanuel Jeffcock of Balaclava Road was next on the list which took place in June 1959 being followed up by Ernest Whiteley of nearby Langsett Road on 1st November 1960. The penultimate takeover was that of the highly respected John Walter Fantom of Duke Street and Queens Road who was absorbed on 10th May 1963.

Lastly, Hirst & Sweeting of Holme Lane in the Hillsborough area of Sheffield completed takeovers by SUT on 15th March 1967.

Sheffield United Tours LimitedSome of the acquisitions involved vehicles, others didn’t whilst that of Hibberds involved vehicles which were immediately disposed of. When coaches were taken into stock only a small number would be repainted into their new owner’s livery in the post war period, in fact only two Abbey Lane coaches, one Jeffcock, two Fantom and one Hirst & Sweeting would appear in grey & red. All other retained coaches would operate in their previous owner’s livery.

The portfolio of services operated by SUT included contracts, express, excursions, private hire, extended British and Continental tours and some very prestigious show business contracts. Even in-coming tourists to this country were catered for as indeed was an undertaking to provide transport for British competitors on the Monte Carlo Rally.

Sadly Sheffield United Tours was absorbed into the National Bus Company in 1969 which eventually was to herald the end of SUT as it had been known.

Sheffield United Tours LimitedOn 1st January 1974, the company was teamed up with the coaching arm of Hebble Motor Services and both integrated into the Central Activities Group (CAG) of NBC. The SUT name was to appear for the last time on the sides of new coaches in 1974 whilst the familiar grey & red livery gave way reluctantly to the bland, uninspiring , all over white livery for new vehicles in 1973.

Engineering activities were to be centralised at Charlotte Road whilst administration was carried out at Frost Hill in Liversedge. Renaming of the combined fleet to that of National Travel (North East) also took place in 1974.

Eventually privatisation crept in at Sheffield with ATL taking control unfortunately and concentrating more on de-regulated bus services with Bristol RE’s and a motley collection of ageing Leyland National’s. Gone for the most part were the days of luxury coaches entering and leaving the Charlotte Road garage.