Gosport's buses and trams An online exhibition created by The Provincial Society, with support from Hampshire County Council Arts and Museums Service  

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People's Provincial (1987-1995)  

As the name suggests, the Company was owned by the people – in this case, the bus Company was a unique ESOP (Employee Share Ownership Plan) whereby the employees bought out the Company.

As proposed in the 1985 Transport Act, the nationalised bus industry came to an end on 26 October 1986. This provided opportunities for private firms and companies to run their own services with plenty of competition. When a young dynamic manager arrived at Hoeford, there was much concern among the workforce because the sale of NBC meant an unknown future with rumours of takeovers and the introduction of minibuses which prompted a series of one-day strikes by bus drivers. Realising the situation was critical, the new manager, James Freeman, called a meeting at midnight on 27 January 1987, when all drivers could be available after the end of services, to explain a revolutionary proposal. James stood on the back of a recovery lorry to reveal his ideas of the employees buying the Company. The majority of the busmen accepted this proposal and James had to move quickly as bids for buying the Provincial Company had to be handed in on 30 January 1987! Like most projects, there were some last minute problems and all seemed to be lost. However, the local press reported on 11 February 1987 that ‘jubilant Fareham and Gosport busmen celebrated their Company buy-out triumph today with a pledge that “we shall have the best bus company in the south!”   People’s Provincial was born with a distinctive new livery of emerald green to represent the old Provincial Bus Company and cream which represented the new Company. Red wheels became a feature of the Company’s image as well with newly painted bus stops with green poles and red socks, a few of these still exist today!

The Company lasted for eight years during which time the growing and profitable company was attracting potential buyers. The local newspaper headline on 14 September 1995 stated that ‘People’s Provincial is about to be swallowed up by FirstBus’. The Managing Director of FirstBus explained that a ‘merged People’s Provincial would still be run by its own management and operate as an autonomous unit of FirstBus. One of the most striking early signs of the takeover was the revised red and cream livery which broke away from the traditional green and cream which had appeared on Provincial’s trams and buses in the Gosport and Fareham area since the 1870s.

Staff celebrating the buy out of the bus company People's Provincial timetable May 1991 Leyland National - UAA 226M Leyland National 2 - A301 KJT
  Leyland Atlantean - HOR 590E  

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