London General Omnibus Company
The London General Omnibus Company was founded in 1855 to amalgamate and regulate the many independent horse-drawn omnibus services then operating in London. Originally an Anglo-French enterprise, also known as the Compagnie Generale des Omnibus de Londres, the LGOC soon became the largest omnibus operator in London. It bought out hundreds of independently-owned buses and established a consistent level of service for its fleet. Within a year, the LGOC controlled 600 of London's 810 omnibuses.
Under its chairman Sir John Pound, in 1902 it looked at an option to purchase a competitor, the Star Omnibus Company, but it was unable to complete negotiations. LGOC began using motor omnibuses in 1902, and the last LGOC horse-drawn bus ran on 25 October 1911.
The merger of these three companies (the Road Car Company was also known as Union Jack owing to its habit of flying the British flag on its vehicles) gave the new and enlarged LGOC the most experienced operating and engineering personnel of any operator - and perhaps manufacturer - in the country at the time.
In 1912, the Underground Group, which owned most of the London Underground, bought the LGOC. In 1933, the LGOC, along with the rest of the Underground Group, became part of the new London Passenger Transport Board. The name London General fell into disuse, and London Transport instead became synonymous with the red London bus.
LGOC began producing motor omnibuses for its own use in 1909 at works established in premises inherited from Vanguard at Blackhorse Lane, Walthamstow, London. The first model built was the LGOC X-type, which was designed by Frank Searle, LGOC's chief engineer. The X-type was followed by the LGOC B-type, from the same designer.
After the Underground Group's acquisition of the LGOC in 1912, the bus manufacturing elements of the LGOC were split out to create the Associated Equipment Company (AEC).
Rebirth of the name
In the privatisation of London bus services in the 1980s, London Transport created a series of shadow bus operating companies with names of geographic or historic significance, and one of these was christened London General in honour of the LGOC. The new London General was initially privatised by management buy-out, and acquired by the Go-Ahead Group in 1996.
The London General Omnibus Company was featured in the opening ceremony of the 2012 Summer Olympic Games in London. Isambard Kingdom Brunel, played by actor Kenneth Branagh, was depicted arriving in a green horse-drawn London General Omnibus Company Limited bus at the start of the ceremony.
Contemporary London General bus
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- Thackray, Brian (2004). AEC Vehicles: Origins to 1929. Venture Publications Ltd. ISBN 1-898432-44-9
- "Olympic Ceremonies - London 2012". BBC. Retrieved July 28, 2012.
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