Our History

The various local bus companies that now make up Arriva each have an amazing heritage of their own, with some surprising stories to tell. You can learn more about the history of your local bus services. You might be surprised to find out just how long we’ve been an important part of your local community.

Arriva is now one of the leading transport operators in Europe. But our roots are in Sunderland, in the North East of England, in a second-hand motorcycle shop opened in 1938 by the Cowie family. To find out more about the history and growth of Arriva plc please visit the Arriva group website.

In the UK, our buses are organised into regional units, each of which has a fascinating story of its own. The core UK bus business outside London came into what is now Arriva ownership when the then Cowie Group acquired British Bus plc.

Until 1985 many buses were nationalised. But the 1985 Transport Act broke up the old National Bus Company and privatised it, a subsidiary at a time. A variety of fates were in store. Some companies were sold to their management teams or employees, while others were bought by entrepreneurs. It wasn’t long before a number of groupings started to form. Some of the newly privatised bus companies started to acquire other operators, and some started to change hands. One of these emergent new groups became British Bus plc.

There is a fierce loyalty amongst our longer-serving employees to some of the old companies, and many have family connections spanning several generations. Customers often remember the old names with fondness too. These links will take you to the fascinating histories of our local bus operations.

The former National Bus Company subsidiary Crosville provided services over a huge area of North and mid-Wales and Cheshire. Like many others, was split into smaller units in readiness for privatisation. Crosville Wales was bought by its management team in 1987. It passed to the National Express group in 1989. Drawlane, subsequently to become British Bus, bought it in 1991. The Oswestry depot and Abermule outstation were sold to Midland Red North in 1992.

Arriva Cymru, as it had become, merged with Arriva North West in 2002, but is to be demerged again in January 2009 as Arriva Buses Wales.

Our services run from depots in Bangor, Llandudno Junction, Rhyl, Wrexham and Chester.