Call our Sales Team on 0208 912 2120

The Displacement of London' s Horse Omnibus.

17th January 1907
Page 7
Page 8
Page 9
Page 7, 17th January 1907 — The Displacement of London' s Horse Omnibus.
Noticed an error?
If you've noticed an error in this article please click here to report it so we can fix it.

Which of the following most accurately describes the problem?

Official records show: two years ago, 5,551; one year ago, 5,484; to-day, 2,964.

. The progress of the London motorbus services was reviewed in our issue of the 3rd instant, so as to record the improvement that had been made during 1006. All who are interested in the burning question of London. traffic will, also, be anxious to know the extent to which motor services have displaced horse omnibuses. This particular subject was discussed in our issue of May 3rd, 1906, but, as it will be a subject of recurring interest at the commencement of each year, it is, now, proposed to examine the displacement of horses and horse omnibuses that has taken place during the whole of the past twelve months.

The Commissioner of Police for the Metropolis has informed

THE COMMERCIAL Molcuit " that the number of horse omnibuses for which licenses were in force on the 31st December, 1904, was 3,551, compared with, on December 31st, 1905, a total of 3,484, and with, 17 days ago, only ,964; this shows a decrease, for 1906, of 520 vehicles. During the same period, the motor omnibuses have increased by 565, so that the decrease in horse omnibuses is rather less than the increase in motor omnibuses. This, however, is counterbalanced, to a considerable extent, by the fact that motor omnibuses have to be off the road, for overhauling and repairing, to a much greater extent than is the case with horse omnibuses. The careful checks that have been made, for the purpose of our fortnightly census, have proved that the proportion of motor omnibuses out of service for teaching, overhaul, temporary breakdown, and painting for re-licensing, amounts, at the present time, averaging all the motor omnibuses together, to 24 per cent. Some companies have obtained a very much better average than this, but their good figures have to be reckoned against the unfortunate experience of some of the other companies. The horse omnibus has to be, accidents excepted, out of service for, say, at the most, three weeks in the year, when it is thoroughly overhauled and repainted ; it will, therefore, be fairly accurate to state that the increase in motor omnibuses has been followed by an equal numerical decrease in horse omnibuses. Many statisticians will be disappointed to find the proportion is not higher, because it is well known that Thomas Tilling, Limited, withdrew three horse omnibuses for every two motor omnibuses which it put on the road, and that the London Omnibus Owners' Federation, which included all the "associated" routes, allows any member to displace three horse omnibuses by two motor omnibuses.

New Facilities Essential.

The official figures, which we publish, show that the aggregate number of omnibuses, motor and horse together, remains Stationary, and that the greater number of journeys made by the moter omnibus, and its greater seating capacity, has barely served to keep pace with the increase in London's population, and with the increase in the number of journeys per head made by the inhabitants of, and visitors to, the Capital. There is no doubt that increased travelling facilities induce the public to travel to a greater extent every day, and that, therefore, there must be an increase in the number of vehicles, since both the population and facilities are increasing simultaneously. It is interesting to contemplate the state into which London traffic would have fallen had not the " tube " railways enabled a large number of people to travel underground ; if the London County Council had its way, and the only means of transport provided throughout greater London were by electric tramways, there would be paralysing congestion in every important thoroughfare, the business of the World's market would be largely reduced, and London would lose its place as the hub of the Universe!

The Survival of Horse Omnibuses.

It is proposed to discuss the changes in horse-oninibus services that have been made in the different districts, but, before doing so, it is instructive to conjecture what will be the ultimate fate of the horse omnibus. There is no doubt that it is able to rope with thinner traffic" than is a motor omnibus ; in other words, it is able to pay with less receipts per mile, and, therefore, there must remain some roads where it will pay to work horse omnibuses, though it will not pay to work motor omnibuses. At the same time, it must be remembered that there is a gradual alteration in the routes by which the public travel, and that, instead of taking a horse omnibus which passes the door, people will, provided that they are going to make a journey of sufficient length for the increased speed of the motor omnibus to weigh with them, walk some distance in order to get a service of motor omnibuses. Allusion was made, in our article quoted at the outset, to the state of affairs on the Knightsbridge and Hammersmith road, where the traffic seems to have departed to such a degree that motor omnibuses cannot he made to pay, although the present services of horsed omnibuses are

working to the owners' satisfaction. A similar instance can be adduced in the Putney, Kensington and Kilburn route. This is a cross-country journey, which was started, in 1891, by the London General Omnibus Company, and which now employs 78 horsed omnibuses on three services, viz., Fulham Road and West Ramp stead, Chelsea and Finchley Road, and Putney and Brondesbury. The London and District Motor Bus Company tried a service of motor omnibuses on the last-named route, but found that it could not average more than 6d, per mile: it soon withdrew them, except on Sundays. This result may have been, lirgely, due to the excellent and frequent service of horsed omnibuses maintained by the L. GO. Company. Another example of a service in which the horsed omnibuses are likely to survive, is that between Finsbury Park and Clapton. The number of passengers who require to travel on this route is comparatively few, so that, although horsed omnibuses do just pay, it is very doubtful whether mctor omnibus would do so.

The only suggestion that can be made for the improvement of such a service is that it should be worked in conjunction with other routes, or with a service of motor omnibuses operating a horse-shoe route. A suitable motor route, for the purpose, would be : Victoria, through Camden Town, to Finsbury Park, and then, via Lordship Park and Stoke Newington, to Clapton, and continued down Mare Street and Shoreditch, to the Elephant and Castle. This round should prove very remunerative, be. cause. many passengers, Nitho now walk to the nearest points on the northern tramways system would prefer to travel right through by motor omnibus, and, therefore, the service would pay well in all sections, even over the section between Finsburv Park and Clapton, which barely pays with horsed omnibuses under present circumstances. There is no doubt that members of the public do not care to have to change vehicles in the course of their journeys, and the establishment of through services will attract many who, if it were necessary for them to change omnibuses at one or more points on their journey, would travel by other means, i.e., cab, railway, "tube," or tramcar.

Lost Patronage.

There are certain routes which paid very well in the days of horse omnibuses, but which will cease to pay when motors become more numerous, because the traffic will be diverted to the more important thoroughfares where a frequent and rapid motet.omnibus service is maintained. An instance of this class is the service of omnibuses from Liverpool Street to the Monster, Pimlico, which are known as the brown "Westminsters," and this will soon find itself without patronage. These omnibuses leave the main thoroughfare at Westminster Abbey, and travel, via Great Smith Street and a number of unimportant streets, to Ebury Bridge. At no point is this service very far from Victorja Street, or Buckingham Palace Road, and, when the motor omnibuses are running with sufficient frequency on this route, the public will, instead of taking a horsed " Westminster " omnibus, prefer to walk to the nearest point in Victoria Street or Buckingham Palace Road. Some guide to the ultimate fate of the horse omnibus can be gathered from studying the actual displacement of services by the motors, tramways and other competitors, and this will be followed, most easily, if London is divided into districts, and each district considered by itself.

Cricklewood and Kilburn District.

This was the first area to feel the competition of motor omnibuses, and the London General Omnibus Company transferred two of its Cricklewood omnibuses to the Islington and Hammersmith service, five to the Highbury and Parsons Green service, and three to the .Old Ford and Oxford Circus service, whilst 18 others were taken off, and, after trial on various experimental routes, finally settled down to work the "Mile End and Tottenham Court Road" service. Thus, the Cricklewood and Oxford Circus service was reduced from 48 omnibuses to 20, but, as the policy of the London General, at the time, was to keep up the full complement of its horsed omnibuses, these were not withdrawn, but only transferred, early in 1906. In May of the same. year, all the horsed omnibuses between Victoria and Cricklewood were suspended : 12 of these belonged to the London General, and about an equal number belonged to the various " associated" owners. When "No. 6 Vanguard " service was commenced, to Kensal Rise, via West Kilburn, it played sad havoc with the horsed omnibuses running to West Kilburn, and the London General discontinued the West Kilburn and Charing Closs service of 12 omnibuses, transferring five of these to the West Kilburn and London Bridge route, and six to the Harksden and Charing Cross route, so that, actually, only one was displaced.


It is very curious to note that the horse omnibuses on the Bayswater Road itself have suffered no diminution since the advent of motors; there is, in fact, an increase of two on the Turnham Green and Clapham Junction route, which joins the Bayswater services at Notting Hill Gate. Although there was no actual competition, the Road Car Company discontinued its " H " service, from the Clarendon, Bayswater, to London Bridge, in April, 1906; the Victoria Station Association omnibuses, from the Royal Oak, were reduced about the same time, hut they have been brought up to their original strength, recently, at the time the route was extended to Waterloo Station. There is an illustration of the way in which traffic leaves certain routes, in the fact that the omnibuses between Bayswater and Camden Town have been very considerably reduced. This route was worked by the Camden Town Association, and used to extend as far as the Nag's head, Holloway. It is not in competition with any motor service, but the numbers are now about one-third of what they used to be, and the buses only go as far as Camden Town Station.

Hammersmith and Barnes.

The number of motor omnibuses run by the London General, from its Mortlake depot, has necessitated the gradual withdrawal of the Uxbridge Road and Barnes horse omnibuses, and these were, finally, discontinued on the lath December. Four omnibuses have been withdrawn from the IIammersmith and Liverpool Street route, but, as four others have been put on that between Islington and Hammersmith, the state of affairs remains much the same. West Kensington.

The London Road Car Company withdrew one of its West Kensington services, that to the I.ondon Hospital, in January, 1906, and, later in the year, it withdrew the Fulliam and Oxford C,Ircus omnibuses, which, also, traversed West Kensington. The London General withdrew the 12 West 'Kensington and Oxford Circus omnibuses, which were the survival of the old " Favorite" route, at the time when it commenced the Hamniersmith and Holloway service, and, since then, it has withdrawn five of the Mile End and West Kensington omnibuses. The service of omnibuses between Ilammersmith and Wandsworth has been altered to Wandsworth and Shepherd's Bush, and, at the same time, the total number of omnibuses employed has been very considerably reduced. This is, partly, owing to the motor-omnibus competition from Hammersmith, and, partly, to the opening of the electric tramways between Wandsworth Bridge Road and Tooting. The Kilburn and Fulham Road service has gained one omnibus, and this, evidently, is one of those displaced from the other routes.

Putney and Fulham.

Six of the "Road Cars" which used to run between Putney and Liverpool Street were withdrawn, at the time this company started its Putney motor omnibuses, but the London General " Putneys " have remained at the same total number. The Fulham and Liverpool Street omnibuses, via Victoria, have been very considerably reduced, because of the competition of the red "General" motors on this route. The Road Car Company has entirely withdrawn its "C" route, from Fulham to Liverpool Street, which was designated " Walhain Green via Victoria," and the L.G.O. Conn7e; .s i ducese its Fulham and Liverpool Street omnibuses from 40 to 30.

Clapham Junction.

The advent of the "Clapham Junction and Highbury Barn" motor omnibuses has had the dual effect of reducing the "General" horse omnibuses, running between Clapham Junction and Piccadilly Circus, from 24 to 12, and the " J " route of the Road Car Company, from Walham Green to Highbury Barn, has been withdrawn altogether. On the other hand, the Highbury and Parsons Green omnibuses of the London General remain the same number as at the beginning of the year.

Finchley Road.

The motor omnibuses running along this route have been very numerous. There are: the service from North Finchley to Oxford Circus; the "Vangbard Service No. 2," from Finchley Road to Ebury Bridge ; and the "Child's Hill and Pimlico" omnibuses of the London General and "associated" owners. The competition has been ruinous to the horse omnibuses; all the Finchley and Oxford Circus and the Hendon and Oxford Circus omnibuses have been withdrawn. A slight diminution of the Atlas omnibuses has taken place, but the Baker Street and Victoria and the Baker Street and Waterloo omnibuses have been reduced to one-third of their original strength.

Camden Town,

These omnibuses, which are all associated " under the name of the "Camden Town Omnibus Association," have been rather severely hit by "No. 5 Vanguard" service, from Hampstead Heath to Victoria, and, in consequence, one of their routes—that from the Mansfield Hotel, Gospel Oak, to Victoria—has been abandoned. A few omnibuses have been taken off the other routes, in accordance with the arrangements by which the " associated " companies are at liberty to substitute two motor omnibuses for three horse omnibuses at their convenience. Some of the omnibuses displaced at the commencement of motor competition were used to extend the "Hampstead" road from Oxford Circus to London Bridge. This extension proved more or less of a failure, and those seven omnibuses have been discon tinued. • Holloway.

This district is served by both the Road Car Company, which calls its omnibuses " IIolloway," and the L.G.O. Company, which names its omnibuses "Favorite." The motor competition has not been very serious, except that the latter company has extended one of its motor omnibus routes to Hornsey Rise. This, however, is not sufficient to account for the withdrawal of 18 Tollington Park and 18 Hornsey Rise "Favorite" omnibuses. The competition of the Great Northern and City Electric Railway (tube) and the reduced fares on the Great Northern have, probably, been the important factors here. These 36 omnibuses have not disappeared altogether, because two have been added to the Stoke Newingten and Victoria " Favorite " road, and 10 to the Highgate and London Bridge " Favorite 'S route.

Stamford Hill.

The competition of the "Pilot' motor omnibuses has led the "associated" companies serving the Stamford hill route to increase their horse omnibuses considerably. The service of

Pilot" motors is run at somewhat long intervals, and, con. sequently, they attract a large number of people to that route who have not patience to wait, and who, in the end, travel by horsed omnibuses. The L.G.O. Company has added 10 omnibuses to this route, and these will have been taken off other services.

Bow and Blackwall.

It has already been mentioned that the "Mile End and West Kensington " service was reduced by five omnibuses ; in addition, the " How Church and Notting Hill" service has been entirely discontinued. The omnibuses which have been transferred from Cricklewood, and made into a new service between "Mile End and Tottenham Court Road," have also had to be reduced in number from 18 to 12. On the other hand, the " Blackwall" omnibuses, which run from Canning Town to Charing Cross, have been increased by four, but the red " Blackwell " omnibuses, which were worked by the London General in association with the Star Company, and which ran from Poplar to Upton Park, have been considerably reduced, all those of the L.G.O. Company having been withdrawn.


Further cast the services were mostly worked by the Great Eastern London Suburban Tramway and Omnibus Company. Part of this company's trade was acquired by the Great Eastern London Motor Omnibus Company, and its horse omnibuses were stopped : they have been broken up at the Upton Park depot. The whole of this district now is dependent on the motor company, and upon the municipalised tramways which serve the local trafftc.

Kennington and Peckham.

The "Times" omnibuses were entirely withdrawn in the early part of 1906, being replaced by the Peckham and Oxford. Circus omnibuses of Tilling, Hearn, and the Star Company. Latterly, the London General has withdrawn the " Kennington " omnibuses, which worked from I.oughborough Junction to Oxford Circus, and which were severely handicapped both by motor omnibus and tramway competition.


The New London filiburban Otrtnibus Cotinpaily Worked number of horse omnibuses between Kingston and Richt-nond, and on various cross-country journeys in this neighbourhood. The greater part of these have been gradually withdrawn during the past year, and very few are now running. This, however, is not due to motor competition, but to the London United Electric Tramways, whose cars have monopolised the roads in that neighbourhood.

" Associated " Companies and "Times."

Several allusions have been made to the " associated " companies, and this may require a little explanation. There are a number of associations, known as the

Camden Town Omnibus Association, the Atlas and Waterloo Omnibus Association, etc., which are small groups of owners, who agree to "pool' fares on particular roads, and who, generally, work their omnibuses in "association" with one another. The London General Omnibus Company is a member of most of these associations, but the Road Car Company works independently. Those companies which are members of the associations have formed the London Omnibus Owners' Federation, which regulates the general terms of an " association," and enables the parties to act mutually for the protection of their interests. Two owners, who are members of this Federation, Mr. C. W. French and the London Omnibus Carriage Co., Ltd.' promoted a company, to be called the Amalgamated Motor Omnibus Company, and agreed to part with the "times" of their horse omnibuses to this company, and that it should substitute two motor omnibuses for every three horse omnibuses for which they had "times." This word " times" is used to indicate the place in the schedule of an associated omnibus. The public evidently thought that the price asked for these "times" was too high ; at all events the undertaking was not subscribed sufficiently to justify the directors in going to allotment. In the meantime, 31r. C. W. French had sold

his omnibuses and horses •by auction, and the result is that a large number of these omnibuses have disappeared from service, as have also those of the London Omnibus Carriage Company, Limited. They were spread over a number of associated" routes, and their absence is not very conspicuous. Another group of owners includes the two Glovers and Thomas Cane, who were members of the Federation. They have sold several of their omnibuses to the London General and Associated Omnibus Companies, so that this is only a change of ownership, and not a withdrawal.

Another 5,000 Horses Gone!

The particulars given above have accounted for about 450 omnibuses withdrawn from service, and this agrees with the Chief Commissioner's figures, because the balance will represent the spare omnibuses which are necessarily kept by each owner. The withdrawal of these 450 horse omnibuses means the disappearance from the London streets of some 5,000 horses, taking an average of 11 horses per omnibus. It would be interesting if it could be ascertained to what extent this withdrawal of 5,000 horses is represented as a saving cr c to talae .. cleansing departments of the borough authorities. T counts, nossibly, do not show any actual Saving, and it only meting that the street cleantri a little more leisurely, and that the municipal "stroke" has become somewhat slower. Attention may be &bon to another of the signs of the times before leaving this very interesting subject. The Road Car Company is repainting the lettering of its horse omnibuses in yellow instead of in gold leaf. This is a certain indication that it intends to withdraw them as rapidly as it can get the police to license motor omnibuses to replace them. We look forward, with interest, to the state of affairs at the end of the present year, when it is probable that the horse omnibuses will be reduced to less than half their original number.

comments powered by Disqus