The Western Welsh Omnibus Company Ltd acquired it's name in 1929, when the Great Western Railway took a financial interest, but the company was part of the British Electric Traction (BET) group, and was therefore not nationalised in the immediate post-Second World War era. The operating area stretched across south Wales from east to west, but it could be, perhaps, best described as 'patchy'. Other BET group companies had significant operations in and around Swansea, Ammanford, Port Talbot and the Rhondda valley, while the BTC companies Red & White and United Welsh also covered some parts of south Wales, with some common ground.
Vehicles were generally purchased from AEC or Leyland in the 1950's and 60's, with bodywork from various suppliers. AEC double deckers were favoured in the 50's, but from 1960 the Leyland Atlantean was favoured, a fleet of 66 being built up in the years to 1962. After that, the Atlantean seems to have fallen from grace, and subsequent double deckers bought were AEC Regent V, Leyland PD2A and AEC Renown models, before more Atlanteans came in 1969. Like Red & White, the fleet was principally single deck, with an huge fleet of the 30' long lightweight Leyland Tiger Cub model, this being favoured until 1967, by which time the majority of BET group companies had switched to the longer Leyland Leopard and AEC Reliance models. A batch of 36' Leopards were bought in 1962, but no further buses of this size came until 1969. Coaches were a mix of AEC and Leyland underfloor engined types, with the Leopard being favoured later in the 60's. Coaches were generally kept for a few years, and were not downgraded to bus status. Instead, dual purpose vehicles based on underfloor engined chassis, with a luggage locker separate from the passenger saloon, were also bought, principally for use on the longer distance bus services, and these were a mix of Leyland Tiger Cub and AEC Reliance types.
The Rhondda Transport Company, based in Porth, was another BET group company. Its services were concentrated within the Rhondda valleys area, or linked the Rhondda to major centres in the adjacent areas, where the low bridge problem does not seem to have been so serious as in other parts of South Wales, so that a greater proportion of the fleet was double deck, and these were of the highbridge type. The AEC Regent V was purchased up to 1966, generally the short 65 seat version, but subsequently Leyland Atlanteans were bought – also with highbridge Northern Counties bodies. For the single deck fleet, the Leyland Tiger Cub was favoured, purchases continuing to 1968. A small number of 36' Leyland Leopards were purchased for dual purpose and coaching work.
Red & White
Red & White Services Ltd was part of the state-owned British Transport Commission (BTC - later reorganised into the Transport Holding Company (THC)), but was not a true 'Tilling company'. The majority of the operators taken over by the BTC at that stage were from the Tilling group, and the name continued in use long after nationalisation. After the Second World War, Red & White had been the major component of the largest independently owned bus company in the UK, but the directors, fearing that they would be compulsorily purchased by the Government, sold their UK bus interests to the BTC in 1950, and concentrated on their remaining overseas and UK freight interests. At the time of the sale to the BTC, a large fleet of Leyland and Guy buses and coaches was in course of delivery or on order, so that the first 'Tilling standard' Bristol/ECW products did not appear in the fleet until 1953. From then onwards, all new vehicles were Bristol/ECW products, so that the fleet was 100% Bristol/ECW by 1968.
Due to the number of low bridges in the area, double deckers had always played only a limited role in the fleet, and no new double deckers were purchased after 1964. Red & White was the only Lodekka operator who never purchased a front entrance version – even West Yorkshire had one FSF – briefly! The standard BTC single deckers, the Bristol LS and later MW types were widely used – the MW was especially popular here, a fleet of 202 being built up over the ten years that the model was available. From 1965, the rear engined RE was also purchased in significant numbers. After the first two batches of REs with Gardner engines, Leyland engines were specified for most later REs – the engineers would presumably have been familiar with them. For example, part of the large fleet of Leyland Royal Tigers delivered in the early 1950's were replaced at Aberdare by the majority of the 1967 Bristol RESL vehicles – both types of vehicle were fitted with the Leyland 600 engine. Red & White operated several express coach services as part of the 'Associated Motorways' pool, so the coach fleet was also significant, but 'dual purpose' type vehicles were not usually purchased. Coaches were generally downgraded to bus service duties in later life, but an exception was the batch of five Bristol RELL6L dual purpose vehicles delivered in 1967 for use on the limited stop services between Cardiff and Bristol over the then-new Severn Bridge.
Jones Omnibus Services Ltd, of Aberbeeg, was an independent operator, one of several in the South Wales valleys. While the majority of these operators ran a few shorter distance local services, Jones had succeeded in obtaining a licence for a trunk service from Ebbw Vale to Newport, via Llanhilleth and Pontypool, in 1947. This 'trod on the toes' of the larger companies, Red & White and Western Welsh, who already operated services over the same roads. A particular source of frustration for the larger operators was the fact that the licence was granted partly as a result of their own inability to provide a sufficient level of service to meet the demand, this in turn being a result of their being unable to obtain sufficient new vehicles as a result of the government's export drive. While some co-ordination with Red & White was achieved in the earlier years, this service gradually became a 'thorn in the flesh' of the bigger companies, as their fares were increased faster than Jones. Eventually, the bigger companies' fares were approximately double those charged by Jones, and it is hardly surprising that the public preferred to use Jones' service whenever possible!
The fleet was all single deck, buses being mostly Leyland Tiger Cub and later Leopard models. The longer 33' and 36' versions of the Leopard were adopted earlier than by the bigger companies, probably to provide extra capacity on the Newport service! However, purchases of Tiger Cubs also continued to 1969. A significant coaching fleet was also built up in the 1950's, using a mix of Leyland, AEC and Bedford coaches.