Fringe Box



Take A Trip Back In Time With A New Book About Safeguard Coaches

Published on: 27 Mar, 2014
Updated on: 27 Mar, 2014

By David Rose

Once in a while a really good local history book comes along charting an important aspect of Guildford’s past.

Cover of the new book, Safeguard Coaches of Guildford, by laurie James.

Cover of the new book, Safeguard Coaches of Guildford, by Laurie James.

The latest book is just that – the story of Safeguard Coaches that has been in operation for 90 years, and the five generations of the Newman family behind it.

Safeguard is celebrating this impressive anniversary with a charity open day at its garage at Ridgemount, off Guildford Park Road, on Saturday (March 29) at which the book will be launched.

Author Laurie James is an expert when it comes to buses and the history of coach firms in the area. He has written a cracking good read all about Safeguard, its staff and vehicles over the years.

His meticulous text includes Newman family details and pictures, his own research and that by others interested in buses, including an earlier booklet on Safeguard written in 1984 by Norman Hamshere and the late John Sutton.

The company’s story begins after the First World War with Arthur Newman establishing a coal delivery business in Guildford Park. His brothers John, Fred and Bert were involved, and one day bails of straw were put in the back of a lorry to take a party of boy scouts to Bognor Regis – and that appears to have been the start of their public transport service!

Next, a Daimler vehicle was converted with seats as a characbanc for daytrips and it was not long before more vehicles were added. On September 2, 1927, Arthur Newman applied to Guildford council to run a bus service from Guildford to the then new corporation housing estate off Aldershot Road (today it’s called Westborough). He was granted a licence and with that Safeguard’s bus services began.

Safeguard added this Dennis Bros GL, with bodywork by REAL, in 1931.

Safeguard added this Dennis Bros GL, with bodywork by REAL, in 1931.

The book charts the history and development of the firm with its buses and coaches through the decades of the 20th century right up to the present. Interestingly, the development and expansion of Guildford during that time can be compared with the services offered by bus firms such as Safeguard and its changing routes to meet new demands. It is all in this book along with some great anecdotes and tales from some of the staff and drivers, plus of course, the story of the Newman family.

Do you remember going on a day trip in one of these?

Do you remember going on a day trip in one of these?

There is a chapter on Farnham Coaches, a firm Safeguard acquired in 1988, while the author pulls no punches when it comes to aspects of Safeguard’s history that haven’t been the smoothest of rides. The so called ‘bus wars’ of the 1990s, when there was stiff competition from rival firms, is a story that many may not know about.

Did you hop on one of these?

Did you hop on a bus like this?

It goes without saying that the book is lavishly illustrated throughout, with lots of black and white and colour photos of buses and coaches. You don’t have to be a bus fan to appreciate these – there are some good local street views for those who like a bit of nostalgia!

This hardback book has been published by Amberley and is good value for £20. Go along on Saturday and buy a copy hot off the press. If you can’t make it, the book will be available locally and via book outlets on the internet.

The author concludes with: “Safeguard has been part of the fabric of Guildford in the past, the present and (we believe) will be in the future.” You can’t argue with that.

Vince Bennett_Z6B0534

The latest in the fleet – an Optare Versa bus.

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