Southdown Motor Services (popularly known as Southdown Buses) was formed in 1915 with the intention of providing bus services to a big chunk of the South Coast (the "Southcoast" name already having been taken).
Southdown was founded by "The two Alfreds", Alfred Douglas Mackenzie and Alfred Cannon, who worked together to make Southdown's a cut above the normal bus service, with better signage and roomier more luxurious seating than might normally be expected on standard services, and a laserlike focus on timetabling and scheduling. This served Southdown well as a series of acquisitions and takeovers resulted in the company expanding their territory out into a wedge-shaped area stretching from Portsmouth to Hastings, with the top of the wedge extending up to London.
The company also used its coaches to run long-distance holiday sightseeing tours, across Britain and the Continent.
- " The great thing about Southdown as a country bus service was that if you were on a country lane and you saw one coming, you could just stick your hand out and they'd stop. Southdown were always great like that."
Alfred Mackenzie had started out as a transport enthusiast and trainspotter, and this seems to have helped him develop an appreciation of the railway companies' management of their networks, locomotives, rolling stock, and timetables that meant that he was already trained in the disciplines necessary for the construction of a large transport network before Southdown started.
As well as appreciating the value of economies of scale in a large network (and the deep organisation required to make sure that those efficiencies weren't absorbed by system inefficiencies), Mackenzie was also familiar with the commercial value of a company's charismatic association with quality, having seen the effect of railway advertising and the success of the Pullman company's coaches on the London, Brighton and South Coast Railway.
While Southdown couldn't reproduce Pullman's luxury armchairs and waiter service, it could and did try to give passengers more legroom, better service, and drivers with a strict uniform code.
Liveries and logos
Classic-era Southdown Motor Services' buses used different colour-scheme themes to differentiate between their "bUs" and "coach" services (the "coaches" being the more top-end vehicles)
Buses used a predominantly green and cream colour scheme with some darker green detailing, and ornate black-shadowed gold block capitals, whereas coaches tended to be more two-tone green, with much more use of dark green, and with a different gold logo, the angled, flourished Mackenzie script logo designed by Alfred Mackenzie for his precious coach fleet in 1921.
Both logos were retired in favour of a simpler "clean" block capitals logo after the company became part of the National Bus Company ("NBC") in 1969
Promotional text, 1950
"We always choose a Southdown coach cruise"
- " Every year many thousands rely on Southdown to take them on memorable tours covering England, Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland and the Continent.
- Every year, they choose a different Southdown itinerary – to see fascinating new places, observe strange foreign customs and enjoy spectacular scenery. some prefer Southdown because of the utter comfort provided – others choose Southdown because of the perfect organisation and service. Every detail is arranged to a nicety in advance. You travel in a luxurious coach, specially designed for long distance touring. You watch the passing scene in armchair comfort. Fares include first class accommodation and meals, also staff gratuities.
- This year, why not avail yourself of the most wonderful holiday imaginable? "
Southdown Motor Services - early Brighton sites
Southdown Motor Services started out in Worthing and Brighton, and the National Archive shows the following Brighton sites being acquired in 1915/6:
- 73 Middle Street - let in 1915 for a bus station
- Royal Mews, Steine Street 1915
- 40b and 40c Park Street (Freshfield Road Garage) 1915
- 14 West Street, Brighton, coal yard 1915
- Agreement for hire of kiosk at Aquarium, Brighton 1915
- Mark Lane Mews, Upper St. James's Street, Brighton 1916
- Lease of stabling yard and premises, part of Freshfield Mews 1916
1915 was also the year that the company acquired Southdown Garage, Amberley Road, Storrington. The company had an advertising and ticket sales booth at Brighton Aquarium.
Southdown Bus Day, Amberley
- Sun 27th Sep 2015, Amberley Museum & Heritage Centre, Houghton Bridge, Nr. Arundel, BN18 9LT
- Southdown Motor Services (wikipedia.org)
- Southdown Motor Services Ltd.: A Fleet History, Colin Parker (freewebs.com/colinsplace)
- Southdown advertising, Grace's Guide (gracesguide.co.uk)
- SOUTHDOWN COACHES 1951 - 1961, Classic Buses Profiles (classicbuses.co.uk) (teamlocals.co.uk)
- Southdown Motor Services Ltd., photos (old-bus-photos.co.uk)
- Bristol Commercial Vehicles Enthusiasts: Illustrated Histories for Southdown Motor Services Limited, including Brighton, Hove & District (bcv.robsly.com)
- Southdown's Daimler fleet (batsaboutbhdfleetlines.moonfruit.com)
- Southdown – British Model Buses (britishmodelbuses.com)
- Southdown Motor Services, Model Bus Zone (modelbuszone.co.uk)
- VINCENT TWEED AND SOUTHDOWN BUSES (visit-gloucestershire.co.uk)
- Steine Street (mybrightonandhove.org.uk)
- Model Bus Federation (model-bus-federation.org.uk)
clubs and groups
- Southdown Enthusiasts' Club (SEC) (southdownenthusiastsclub.org.uk)
- Southdown PSV Enthusiasts page (routebus537.veryold.net)
- The PSV Circle (psv-circle.org.uk)
- Southdown Motor Buses at Amberley Museum (busmanjohn.wordpress.com)
- Amberley Museum’s Brand New Bus Show (thefamilygrapevine.co.uk)
- Southdown 451 Group, East Worthing - The history and restoration of GUF191 (sussex-transport.co.uk)
- National Association of Road Transport Museums (nartm.org.uk)
- "Southdown Preserved" DVD (videoscene.co.uk)
100th anniversary, 1915-2015
- 2015 Event to Mark 100th Anniversary of Southdown Buses (teamlocals.co.uk)
- Southdown 100 anniversary website (southdown100.co.uk)
- Twitter account: @SouthdownMS100 (twitter.com)
- 100 Years of Southdown, special Stagecoach liveries (busandcoachbuyer.com)
This category has the following 3 subcategories, out of 3 total.
- 100 Years of Southdown (display) (11 P, 13 F)
- Johnstones Midget Coaches (1 P, 2 F)
Pages in category ‘Southdown Buses’
The following 15 pages are in this category, out of 15 total.
- Leyland PD3 Queen Mary double-decker No31 bus, Southdown BUF 272C (Corgi Original Omnibus)
- Leyland Royal Tiger coach, Southdown LUF640 (Oxford Diecast 76LRT002)
- Leyland Titan Southdown double-decker No.4 bus UF6473, Robin Starch (Matchbox MYY)
- Leyland Wayman Fanfare coach, Southdown XUF 141 (Oxford Diecast 76WFL001)
Media in category ‘Southdown Buses’
The following 29 files are in this category, out of 29 total.
- 100 Years of Southdown, Brighton Toy and Model Museum.jpg 1,200 × 800; 148 KB
- Area 81.jpg 1,200 × 1,199; 708 KB
- Buses Illustrated 123, June 1965, cover.jpg 688 × 1,024; 165 KB
- Buses magazine issue 723, June 2015 (Southdown issue).jpg 566 × 800; 383 KB
- Buses magazine, Southdown supplement, issue 723, June 2015.jpg 555 × 800; 275 KB
- Ernie Johnstones kiddies coaches (BHOG ~1961).jpg 1,128 × 1,200; 764 KB
- Harrington Cavalier coach, Southdown Excursion, angled (EFE 12101).jpg 2,000 × 1,336; 337 KB
- Harrington Cavalier coach, Southdown Excursion, front (EFE 12101).jpg 2,500 × 2,499; 2.37 MB
- Harrington Cavalier coach, Southdown Excursion, side (EFE 12101).jpg 2,500 × 1,403; 1.52 MB
- Harrington Cavalier coach, Southdown John O Groats (EFE 12101).jpg 1,200 × 800; 359 KB
- Leyland Wayman Fanfare coach, Southdown XUF 141 (Oxford Diecast).jpg 1,024 × 769; 180 KB
- Leyland Wayman Fanfare coach, Southdown XUF 141, side (Oxford Diecast).jpg 2,500 × 1,407; 797 KB
- Morris J-type commercial van RVF324, Southdown (Corgi Toys).jpg 1,200 × 812; 423 KB
- Old Steine, Brighton, bus map (BATS 1962-63).jpg 1,312 × 1,600; 313 KB
- Pedal-car, Southdown buses Leyland Royal Tiger coach LUF 634.jpg 1,600 × 779; 711 KB
- Southdown Bedford Duple JCD 371, diecast 1-24 model, rear (Original Classics).jpg 1,600 × 1,599; 738 KB
- Southdown Bedford OB coach JCD 370, side (Corgi Original Omnibus 42607).jpg 1,800 × 1,010; 612 KB
- Southdown Bus Day, Amberley Museum, Sunday 27th September 2015.jpg 722 × 1,024; 770 KB
- Southdown bus DVDs, www-dentours-com (BusesMag 2015-06).jpg 560 × 800; 459 KB
- Southdown Bus Rally, Sunday 2nd August 2015.jpg 1,024 × 735; 708 KB
- Southdown Buses Centenary model display.jpg 1,600 × 1,067; 755 KB
- Southdown Buses, Amberley dormy bus shed, 00-gauge (Brian Bennett).jpg 1,400 × 1,396; 964 KB
- Southdown Buses, HCVS Rally (Brighton 2019-05).jpg 3,000 × 1,929; 2.89 MB
- Southdown Enthusiasts' Club, 2015 advert (BusesMag 2015-06).jpg 551 × 800; 166 KB
- Southdown Motor Services, London-Brighton, advert (BHOG ~1961).jpg 3,000 × 1,877; 1.4 MB
- Southdown mug, logo (Stagecoach Group).jpg 1,024 × 1,024; 395 KB
- Southdown script logo.jpg 1,200 × 674; 482 KB
- Southdown100 Rally, 7th June 2015.jpg 835 × 1,200; 734 KB