Pilkingtons Buses

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Pilkingtons Buses
Pilkingtons bus.jpg
Plaxton Pointer bodied Dennis Dart in Preston in December 2007
Parent Pilkington family
Founded 1967
Headquarters Accrington
Service area Lancashire
Service type Bus services
Fleet 34 (September 2013)
Website www.pilkingtonbus.com

Pilkingtons Buses[1] is a bus company operating in Accrington, Lancashire.


Pilkington's Buses was established by Ray Pilkington in 1967 as Ray's Taxis; beginning only with a single Ford Zodiac. Pilkington soon acquired further vehicles, however; including more Zodiacs, 3 minibuses, 2 Ford Transit vans and an Austin AU. These vehicles were used for a variety of taxi and minibus work. Upon securing a colliery workers' contract in Burnley, a 41-seater Bedford VAL coach was acquired and operated for a short time on a colliery workers' contract.

Circa 1978, Ray Pilkington suffered back problems and began struggling to walk without the aid of crutches. After numerous tests, it was found that a birth mark had affected his spinal nerves, causing paralysis from the waist down. A shock to all who knew him, now wheelchair-bound Ray (then father to 7 children between the ages of 2 and 12) continued to run the taxi service and affiliated Bed and Breakfast business with the help of his wife, Mary.

In 1986, after deregulation, the Pilkington business made a foray into bus service operation. Met with some tough competition from Hyndburn Transport - the Accrington-based municipal operator - a small-scale bus war ensued between the two companies. Despite the fact that further routes were registered to Pilkington's, they decided to withdraw their buses in 1988.

After a period of absence from bus operations, the next generation of Pilkingtons decided to revisit bus operations along with their father, Ray. On this occasion, the business proved more successful, with a number of schools contracts and 7-day bus services operated throughout Rossendale, Clitheroe, Accrington and Blackburn. Always a family business, the Pilkingtons themselves carried out maintenance, drove the buses and managed the company between them. Further stiff competition from rival operators, such as Stagecoach, Blackburn Transport and, later, Lancashire United, began a turbulent period for the company, which culminated in the business ceasing operations in 2004 following revocation of their operating licences by the traffic commisioner.[2]

In 2006, a new company was formed under the Pilkington family name; this time with Ray's son, Alan, at the helm. Initially operating under the trading name of King Travel, a number of town services centred on Accrington began, and the company made a return to school contract services. In 2007, a major reshuffle occurred in local operations, with large umbrella operator, Transdev Blazefield (by now owner of local operators Lancashire United and Burnley & Pendle), successfully buying out both Blackburn Transport and Northern Blue. Particularly important was the buyout of Northern Blue's subsidiary, Accrington Transport, which was initially created to fill the gap left by Pilkington's three years previously. The smaller Accrington Town Services, by this point under the Lancashire United name, were soon dropped, and were picked up once more by the family company; now trading as Pilkingtonbus.

A particularly successful period for Pilkington's has since followed, with a period spent operating local mainstay bus route; 'The Hyndburn Circular', albeit under the guise of 20/21/20a/21a branding. Further expansion has led to the creation of sister company 'Boomerang Travel LTD', which operates routes in and around Rossendale, namely in Rawtenstall, Haslingden, Ramsbottom and Bury.

Currently, Pilkington's operate 11 local services (under both Boomerang and Pilkington guises) and 9 school contracts, in a revised version of the red/cream livery worn by the company's previous incarnation. Dennis Darts with a variety of bodies, Optare Solo midi-buses and Leyland/Volvo Olympian double decks make up the bulk of the current operating fleet.


The company had operated route 20 from Accrington to Blackburn via Oswaldtwistle, in frequent competition with Lancashire United's routes 1, 6 and 7. Thus, services are not as frequent. They also operated route 20D, a direct service between Accrington and Blackburn, this service was withdrawn and now the company concentrate their services in Accrington.

In August 2007, the company started operating route 114 between Preston and Chorley on behalf of Lancashire County Council.[3] This route was previously operated by Blue Bus of Penwortham.

In March 2010, Pilkington's started the number 3 Huncoat circular, then in July introduced 4 more Accrington town services. As of July 2015, Pilkington's operate seven local services from Accrington; to Fern Gore, Oswaldtwistle, Dill Hall, Huncoat, Baxenden and Great Harwood; as well as four services in the Rossendale Valley.[4]


As at September 2013 the fleet consists of 34 buses.[5]