The vue ahead

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Belle Vue operates a large number of Optare Versa hybrids for schools work. JONATHAN WELCH

Jonathan Welch looks at the history of Manchester operator Belle Vue, and speaks to Managing Director Phil Hitchen

Belle Vue: it’s an area to the south-east of Manchester, bordered by two railway lines, and best known for its zoological gardens, pleasure park and greyhound stadium, and is home to the National Speedway Stadium and the location of Basketball England’s headquarters. But we’re not an estate agent, and we’re here to look at another Belle Vue, and one which is actually located a little further south, though still within Manchester’s ring road – and importantly, within easy reach of the motorway network and all of the major local railway stations, as well as Manchester Airport.

The Belle Vue we’re visiting today is the well-known coach operator, but for once the local history lesson isn’t entirely unrelated. The zoo opened in 1836, and by the 1870s had grown to add an amusement park, which became famous for its rides and entertainment. The ‘new’ Belle Vue, founded in 1993, continues the trend of providing desirable rides, but this time of a slightly less exhilarating nature, aboard its fleet of modern coaches and buses.

A potted history

The company was formed as a result of Managing Director Philip Hitchen’s desire to bring an executive private hire car service to Manchester. Philip had joined Ian Bragg’s company Belle Vue Cars in December 1992 and started to expand the business quite successfully in a short period of time. He went on to purchase the another similar business, Mount Road Cars, and in 1993 the two businesses were merged to form one of Manchester’s largest private hire car companies. It built up a client base of local of blue-chip companies, impressing with its uniformed drivers and quality executive cars.


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