DG100 - the Centenary Celebrations

1956 Timetable Cover

"Celebrating a centenary"

A century ago the Devon General Omnibus & Touring Company Ltd started operations in Exeter with three buses on two routes between Exeter and Torquay. With some changes, Stagecoach continues to operate both routes 100 years later. Hence a route 2 centenary run is one of the many events which the Devon General Society and Stagecoach have planned for this year.

With rapid expansion, the company prospered during its early years. By the 1930s it was the dominant bus operator in south and east Devon. The business peaked in the early 1950s, then steadily declined through the 1960s until eventual nationalisation in 1968, after which Devon General became part of Western National under the auspices of the National Bus Company. Yet DG was re-born in 1983 when Western National was split-up and Devon General became a separate company again.  From 1983 to 1986 DG was still part of the National Bus Company but the former poppy red livery was re-introduced along with Devon General fleetnames.  It became the first part of NBC to be privatised in 1986. During the succeeding 10 years it was transformed into a minibus operator (these were, in fact, introduced in 1984) whilst its depots were sold-off. Stagecoach finally bought what remained of the company and though the name has disappeared, the spirit of DG has returned.

For the full story, read Les Folkard’s book ‘Devon General – a fascinating story’ available from our Sales Officer (see our ‘Sales’ page).

Many Society members grew-up during Devon General’s peak years and remember the changeover from half-cab to underfloor and rear-engined buses, the many rural routes supported by well-patronised urban and coastal services, the obliging bus crews and management efforts to organise duplicate journeys to meet demand. Hence our choice of that era’s timetable cover featuring an AEC Regent III as our visual theme for the centenary celebrations.

With the support of our friends at Stagecoach, our aims in creating this year’s events, projects and souvenirs are to promote an understanding of the services provided to the area by Devon General and Stagecoach, offer opportunities to relive the glory days, encourage restoration of DG vehicles and attract more people to become members of the Society.

There is a choice of five main events during 2019, the largest of which are the Centenary Bus Rally & Running Day on Sunday 4 August at Newton Abbot Racecourse and the Open Day at Stagecoach’s Matford Depot in Exeter on Sunday 6 October. See below for details of all the events.
  Click here to download a PDF of the full programme.

Keep abreast of centenary news on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

Click here to see details of the events which have taken-place so far this year.

These are the main events planned so far:

Sunday, 21 April: 1400-1700 Asda store car park, Newton Road, Torquay TQ2 7AN. Staff reunion on the site of the former Devon General head office, central workshops and depot. Devon General, Exeter City Transport and Stagecoach staff with their families and friends are invited to meet former colleagues from 1400 onwards. Preserved Devon General buses 513 and 925 are planned to attend together with a display of memorabilia. Light refreshments will be available. For those who want to travel, at 1500 one or both of the preserved buses will tour local bus routes and places of transport interest, finishing back at Asda by 1700.
The event is entirely free for those attending. Car parking is available on site but to avoid invoices from Asda’s parking contractor, drivers should register their vehicles at the welcome desk.

Thursday, 16 May - Saturday, 18 May: Devon County Show.  We join with Stagecoach South West in a stand at Westpoint, Exeter which will be manned jointly throughout the 3 days of the show.  This will profile the latest vehicle to join the Stagecoach fleet as well as the Devon General Omnibus Trust's Regent III, NTT661

Thursday, 18 July: Civic Run from Exeter to Torquay.  This is a trip for local civic dignatories to commemorate one of the two initial services launched by the then new Devon General company in 1919.  Transport will be provided by 2 preserved DG vehicles as well as a modern Stagecoach bus.  Members who wish to join this trip (subject to seat availability) should contact the Events Officer

Sunday, 4 August: OUR MAIN EVENT OF THE YEAR and the largest gathering of former Devon General vehicles for many years

Devon General Centenary Bus Rally & Running Day at Newton Abbot Racecourse (TQ12 3AF)

Click here to see a full list of confirmed entries

Sunday, 8 September: free nostalgic bus rides along Torquay sea front involving a small number of buses on short routes. Trips start from the Pavilion bus stops, run along the sea front to the Grand Hotel/Torquay Station roundabout, then back along the sea front to the harbour before returning to the Pavilion. Passengers can alight and join at the Grand Hotel stop for harbour-bound buses. Rides start at 10am, then leave every 15 minutes until 4pm; each trip takes about 15 minutes

Sunday, 6 October: an Open Day at Stagecoach's Matford (Exeter) depot.  As well as a rare opportunity to see behind-the-scenes at a modern, working bus maintenance facility, there will also be the chance to ride on preserved DG vehicles which will provide the transport to & from the Sowton Park & Ride car park