OK Motor Services

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OK Travel Logo

OK Travel was a bus and coach operator in County Durham, North East England. First established in 1912 as OK Motor Services, the company was bought by the Go-Ahead Group in the 1990s. Following rationalisation and rebranding, the OK livery disappeared from the roads as services were integrated with Go North East.


OK Motor Services 17, an AEC Regent V, in Bishop Auckland in 1974

OK Motor Services was founded in Evenwood, County Durham, by Wade Emmerson in 1912. The first route was from Evenwood to Bishop Auckland.

The original name was the Gaunless Valley Motor Services with the name OK coming from a consortium of operators who started to run from the area to the Great North Exhibition in Newcastle in the late 20s. The name OK was used and means just exactly what it says, the service was 'OK'.

The first garage was in Evenwood, with an office being opened within Bishop Auckland Town Hall during the early 1930s. The site of the main garage was acquired and developed during the 1930s in North Bondgate, Bishop Auckland DL14 7PG.

Further depot were opened at Heaton in Newcastle and two further depots were acquired with the business of F Lockey and Sons. This was their depot at St Helens Auckland, which became a central workshop for OK, and a smaller depot at Shotton Colliery.

During the early 1980s, the company replaced OK Motor Services name with OK Travel and introduced a simplified version of the eye catching livery of Dark Red, Light Red and Cream.

After deregulation, OK acquired two further depots, one at Gateshead to replace the Heaton depot. A brand new depot was built at Peterlee, which replaced the depot at Shotton Colliery.

OK Travel operated widely throughout the area with the majority of its services being in south Tyne & Wear and Durham. By 1994 it had 212 vehicles with an average age of about 11 years, and had bought 47 new vehicles in the preceding year.[1]

Go-Ahead takeover[edit]

Go-Ahead Group had already made approaches to Wade Emmerson Snr, who ran the business, but the shareholders had no interest in selling it. However, Go-Ahead was told that if the business did become available for sale, they would be given first refusal.

Wade Emmerson senior died unexpectedly in August 1994.[2] Wade Emmerson Jnr, OK's majority shareholder, was approached by Go-Ahead, which expressed its continued interest in acquiring the business. He was also approached by other operators including Northumbria Motor Services Ltd, the British Bus subsidiary in the North-East, but decided to enter detailed negotiations only with Go-Ahead. In March 1995, Go-Ahead acquired OK Motor Services Ltd and the related OK Motor Services (Travel) Limited and OK Travel (Inclusive Tours) Limited companies for £5.4 million.[3]

Many of OK's staff, including its general manager, Charles Marshall, became employees of Go-Ahead following the acquisition. OK initially became one of Go-Ahead's locally managed subsidiaries with Marshall remaining in charge. Following the acquisition, Go-Ahead took steps to streamline the management of its north-east bus businesses and, as part of that reorganization, several of its earlier acquisitions were transferred to OK.[1] However, the local identities were soon abandoned, and the OK name disappeared.

The garage at Bishop Auckland was demolished, with a few services transferred to Go Ahead's depot at Chester-le-Street, with the more local services transferring to Arriva at Bishop Auckland.

On 15 December 2011, Go North East announced that the OK Travel livery will be revived on a new service by the operator 18/OK1. Starting Monday 23 January 2012, two new bus services were launched in Crook. The OK1 service provided a direct link to Darlington, West Auckland and Middlesbrough from Crook every 30 minutes Monday to Saturday daytimes. Branded "The OK Expressway", in recognition of the old OK Travel brand the service provided a direct service to Darlington and Middlesbrough every 30 minutes on Monday to Saturday daytimes from Crook. Where 18 is a local Bishop Auckland bus and branded "The OK Way". The OK Way uses 2 Dennis Dart Transbus MPD cascaded from Saltmeadows where The OK Expressway uses 4 Scania Wright Solar cascaded from Deptford both run out out of Crook (Outstation to Chester-le-Street). Another bus was launched at the same time to mark the occasion OK Motor Services this can appear on 18 The OK Way/OK1 The OK Expressway/X20/X21/X46 Pronto this bus was also cascaded from Deptford.

As of August 10th 2013 Go North East finished operations with its OK Expressway OK1 Service as a result of a fall in Passenger Numbers towards the end of its 18 Month Trial.

Former depots[edit]

In 1991 the former service depot of Leyland Truck and Bus in the Team Valley Trading Estate, Gateshead, was obtained.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Brown, Stewart J (November 1995). Buses in Britain 2: The Mid-Nineties. Capital Transport. ISBN 1-85414-181-3. 
  2. ^ Communigate | North East | OK MOTOR SERVICES
  3. ^ Competition Commission Report - The Go-Ahead Group Plc and OK Motor Services Limited
  • Holding, David (2007). A History of OK Motor Services. Bus Enthusiast Publishing. ISBN 978-0-946265-39-8. 

External links[edit]