Thames Valley Traction

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A preserved Thames Valley Bristol bus, at an Alton Bus Rally.

Thames Valley Traction Company Limited was a major bus company operating services to and from Reading, Bracknell, Maidenhead, Newbury, High Wycombe and Oxford and surrounding areas for over 50 years during the 20th century. For many years they famously ran the "Reading A" and "Reading B" limited-stop services from London's Victoria Coach Station to Reading via two differing sets of intermediate stops.

Initially, services were operated by Thornycroft, Tilling-Stevens and Leyland buses. In 1939 the firm's first Bristol vehicles were delivered and, during World War 2, a number of Guy utility buses were acquired. Following the war, Thames Valley standardised on Bristols, except for a few Bedford vehicles. Livery was red and cream, although the shade of red varied over time.

The company's origins were in 1915 as a subsidiary of the British Automobile Traction (BAT) Company Limited (itself a subsidiary of British Electric Traction Company - BET). The company was named Thames Valley Traction Company in 1920. Thomas Tilling had a financial interest from the firm's early days[1] and there was increasingly close co-operation between BAT and rivals Thomas Tilling in the 1920s.

In 1928 BAT was reconstructed with the new title, Tilling & British Automobile Traction Ltd. Thames Valley expanded significantly in the 1920s and 1930s through acquisition of a number of smaller firms and their routes. Tillings sold out to the British Transport Commission in 1948, therefore becoming a nationalised company. Thames Valley's expansion continued in the early 1950s, with other parts of the newly nationalised bus network (South Midland and Newbury and District from Red & White, and part of United Counties) being placed under Thames Valley management.

In 1968 Tillings' major competitor, BET, sold its bus interests to the Transport Holding Company (successor to the BTC) and the 1968 Transport Act formed the National Bus Company, which came into existence on 1 January 1969,[2] amalgamating the interests of The Tilling Group with the recently acquired BET Group.

The company continued to trade as Thames Valley under nationalised ownership until it was merged with the former BET company, Aldershot and District Traction Company Limited on 1 January 1972 to form the Thames Valley and Aldershot Omnibus Company, which traded under the contrived fleet name of Alder Valley, with Thames Valley's Reading head office becoming that of the new company.

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