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Leicester's Trams and Buses (Hardback)

20th Century Landmarks

Transport Photographic Books Colour Books

By Andrew H Bartlett
Imprint: Pen & Sword Transport
Pages: 245
ISBN: 9781526732491
Published: 30th January 2019

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In 1904, when Leicester Corporation opened its state-of-the-art electric tram network, it enjoyed a monopoly on routes and convenient central terminal points. But soon the first small independent motor bus companies became active, and by 1921, Midland Red – shortly to be the largest operator in England outside London – was busily establishing itself. The city fathers were faced with a quandary; protecting their territory and services, and possibly extending them, albeit in the face of determined competition, whilst at the same time endeavouring to provide termini that were as invitingly close to the city centre as possible. In this they were assisted by the 1930 Transport Act, which provided the template for fifty years of fairly peaceful co-existence between Leicester City Transport and Midland Red. That is until the provisions of a new Act in 1980 set them at loggerheads again.

Leicester’s Trams and Buses – 20th Century Landmarks examines in detail the background behind five key events – the opening of the electric tram network in 1904 and its closure in 1949; the arrival of Midland Red in Leicester in 1921, via the protracted planning for Leicester’s first proper bus station, to the so-called bus wars in the deregulation and privatisation era of the 1980s. It concludes that it was the pursuit of policies, at local and national government levels, which ultimately led to opportunities being missed that could have provided Leicester city and county with a fully integrated modern-day network.

The book is based on thorough research and is well written. The introduction tells of the Leicester to London stagecoach of 1700, and then goes on to explain how Mr Bartlett amassed and worked on his material. A huge amount of information found in Council minutes and reports in newspapers has been used to present this very readable account of certain points in Leicester’s local transport history, with maps and appendices adding detail.

This well-produced and lavishly illustrated work does what it sets out to do and it is highly recommended for transport enthusiasts, those with an interest in civic affairs, and those with a general interest in Leicester’s history.

Wessex Transport Society

This is a well researched and fascinating book, showing how bus services and infrastructure develop and the difficulties they face in doing so.

PSV Circle

In five thoroughly researched chapters, he [the author] describes the arrival and departure of its electric trams, the long saga leading to the construction of St Margaret's bus station, and the uneasy relationship with Midland Red and its successors both over the 13 years after it arrived in the city in 1919 and the deregulated battles that ran for 14 years until Leicester CityBus was privatised in 1944.

Buses, April 2019 – reviewed by Alan Millar
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