Welsh operator’s 100th birthday book

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A Welsh operator’s centenary is being celebrated with a new book. ‘Ffoshhelig Coaches Ltd Carmarthen 1921-2021’ by Vernon Morgan also marks 25 years’ proprietorship of the firm by current Managing Director Rhodri Evans.

In 1919, David Jones began taking produce from Ffoshelig Farm at Newchurch, where he had been brought up, three and a half miles to Carmarthen. Horses were replaced by a Vulcan lorry, which would ferry livestock, and after being washed out, passengers.

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A service from Pantywaun, via Blaen-y-Coed to Carmarthen was inaugurated in 1921, initially using the name Newchurch Pride, changing to Newchurch Express with a 20-seat Guy BA, registration BX7410, which was acquired in 1926.

Traffic commissioners granted the service a licence in 1931, as well as an authorisation for tours and excursions. Workers services operated in the war, when a new Duple-bodied Bedford OWB, BTH 777 was acquired, as was the business of DR Davis of Talog, in 1947.

Further expansion and numerous Bedfords followed, the operator being renamed Ffoshelig Coaches shortly after a new blue and cream livery arrived in 1957. Bedford SBs became standard fleet fare, with the firm showing loyalty to the marque for 50 years.

David handed over the business to his son, also called David, better known as ‘Des’ and a geography teacher. In 1985 a brown, yellow and cream livery based on that of Aston’s of Kempsey, was adopted. Deregulation and its aftermath saw successful tendering for Dyfed town services but loss of some others to South Wales, which had put in exceptionally low bids. A holiday tours programme began, so the fleet would see everything from Volvo coaches to Bristol LH buses and assorted minibuses.

When ‘Des’ retired in June 1996 operations were split into three, the bulk going to Rhodri Evans of Carmarthen. Though Rhodri was working at his parents’ dairy firm he had always loved coaches, working for several local firms, including Ffoshelig, as a driver before acquiring his own O-licence in 1995. Rhodri has now been at the helm of Ffoshelig Coaches for 25 years, together with his wife, Debbie; both had travelled to school on a Ffoshelig coach.

The firm has continued to thrive: Lewis of Whitland’s Carmarthenshire operations were acquired, and additional business came when First cut back its local operations in 2009. Volvo and DAF coaches along with Optare service buses, among others, have characterised the fleet. Something of a ‘pet’ in the current line-up is Van Hool-bodied Volvo B10M K51 TER, new to Cyril Kenzie.

Private hire a major part of the business, which is currently running 11 vehicles. Said Rhodri: “We are very proud to be celebrating our centenary, I have known Vernon Morgan, who wrote the book, for many years. It’s been a lot of work, but well worth it.”
The book, which includes a full list of vehicles operated, costs £18,50 and can be bought by sending a cheque made out to Ffoshelig Coaches to: Maes Y Prior, Saint Peters Carmarthen SA33 5DS.

Ffoshelig Coaches: 01267 237584

The operator is celebrating 100 years of operation, and 25 years in the hands of Rhodri Evans. NICK LARKIN