Epsom Coaches had operated day trips since 1920 and later expanded to include holidays and tours, initially into the UK, but later extending across the water to mainland Europe. Not only that, the company, operated wonderful tours, to the USA and Canada and even Australia, although we didn’t take the coach with us on those tours!
Our first destination was Brighton and that very first journey, was recreated in a modern-day coach in 2015, in celebration of the company’s 95th Anniversary. Making our way down the old route and avoiding the motorway, our driver Peter Minnette and MD Steve Whiteway, our guide for the day were dressed in 1920’s “Ice Cream” Coats, complete with hat! See 2015 special occasions, for photographs from that nostalgic day out.
The first tours didn’t go far, but in the 1920, it was pioneering stuff. Henley on Thames was a favourite, but as the vehicles became more reliable and we moved away from the charabanc era, we went further and eventually offered holidays across the UK, right up to Scotland which always proved popular.
Epsom Coaches was one of the first coach operators to take coaches across the channel. In those days the coach was hoisted on board the ferry! Later, we had the choice of ferry or tunnel, and both proved to be equally popular over the years.
From 1920 until the mid-eighties, Epsom Coaches operated a comprehensive Express Coach service, to popular coastal resorts, including Bournemouth, Eastbourne, Bexhill, Hastings (EBH), Margate, Ramsgate, Broadstairs, Brighton, Hove and Worthing. These services ran every day during the summer months, offering both day return and period return tickets. These express services were especially popular in the fifties, when the alternative was the expensive train fare!
The heyday for day trips to France was in the early eighties, when such delicacies as French cheese and a wide range of wine was not obtainable in the UK. On the other hand, the French came across to Dover to shop in Marks and Spencer! Nowadays. Most of the French faire, is available in our well stocked supermarkets, but people still like to experience a day in France and take advantage of cheaper prices. We also went to Belgium, with Bruges being a perennial favourite, sometimes taking the Dover – Zeebruge or Ostend route. We also used the short-lived Sally Line, between Ramsgate and Dunkirk and well remember the “Smorgasbord”.
Another way to cross the channel, was by hovercraft. Lower height coaches would fit on board the giant SRN4 hovercraft and deliver us to the Boulogne Hoverport. It was certainly different and very fast, but didn’t catch on, the hovercraft being passed out in the nineties.
In 2005, the company’s unique Departure Lounge was opened and the famed home to holiday service started. At the same time, Tour Managers accompanied every tour, enhancing the holiday experience and relieving the driver of the hosting duties, although they were very much still involved as part of the hospitality team.
In later years, Epsom Coaches organised reunion weekends, for its clients, with up to 150 people enjoying a fun weekend at a hotel that was often devoted entirely to Epsom Coaches. The Epsom Coaches team entertained everyone, and these weekends became a tradition, that was very much enjoyed by all who came along. You can see photographs of these events, in the Special occasions section, under the relevant year.
Epsom Coaches were pioneers in the coach holiday market, fighting for the right to operate its own day trips and holidays, under the licencing system that was in place until 1981. The freedom of the coach holiday industry has much to thank Roy Richmond and Epsom Coaches for.
The company’s last journey and holiday was to Torquay in June 2017. MD, Steve Whiteway along with members of the Epsom Coaches, holiday team, travelled down to the lunch stop in Salisbury, treating the clients to a delightful lunch at the Red Lion hotel, before Steve drive the very last Epsom coach journey back to Epsom. Later that evening, the names were removed, and the story of Epsom Coaches came to an end, after 97 years.
Gardiners MMC took over the Epsom Coaches holiday and day trip programme in June 2017, with most of the Epsom holidays team transferring to Gardiners. They operate their own coaches and are based in Stoneleigh Broadway.
See Our Brochures Through the Ages Below: