Northern General Transport Company
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The Northern General Transport Company was the original founding company of what is now Go-Ahead Group.
It originated in the early 1900s when Gateshead and District Tramways asked Parliament's permission to extend their Tramway, which finished at Low Fell, to Chester-le-Street. Parliament denied the Act so the directors decided to set up a motor bus operation instead. Hence the Northern General Transport Company was formed and its first depot was built at Picktree Lane, Chester-le-Street]] in 1913. Gateshead Tramways being a BET (British Electric Traction) Company meant that "Northern" was too.
The first motor bus service was from Chester-le-Street to Low Fell, via Birtley where a connection to the Gateshead trams occurred; the service, however, was quickly extended to Gateshead and within a few years crossed the Tyne to finish in Newcastle.
Other motor bus routes quickly developed from "Chester", its central location being ideal for other towns and colliery villages nearby. Northern even built the bus station in Durham (as a terminus) before Tilling's United arrived there. After the First World War, services really got going. In Newcastle two bus stations were opened, Marlborough Crescent and Worswick Street. Depots were built in Stanley and Gateshead which was to become the workshops and in 1933 the head office.
Throughout the 1930s smaller independents were bought up and BET Tramways in the North East began to convert to motor bus so Northern expanded into Sunderland and North Tyneside taking over the declining tramway routes and expanding the bus routes further. By now Northern even built their own buses to accommodate the high passenger numbers with the very low bridges in the area (meaning three-axle single deckers). There were by now excursion services, parcel deliveries and long distance services to other cities including London (Victoria Coach Station).
After 1945 Northern and United started more co-operation on routes and further expansion in the Chester le Street and Stanley areas. As for vehicles, Guy, Leyland and Crossley were quite common. In the 1950s Northern bought up more smaller bus operators and with expanding industry at the time rebodied quite a few of their prewar buses. However by the late 1950s these were showing their age, so in 1959 Northern General placed one of the first big orders for the new Leyland Atlantean.
By now the friendly rivalry between Northern and United was at its peak, and United being a Tilling Group company had the Bristol Lodekka and somehow the Atlanteans with their rear-engined underpowered units just couldn't cut the mustard with the Bristols. Northern quickly had to find a solution, and it came from the 1961 Commercial Motor Show: the RMF demonstrator Routemaster. So in 1963 out of the blue, Park Royal received an order for 15 with the option of a further 35 front-entrance Routemasters with Leyland engines and long distance fuel tanks.
By 1969 the National Bus Company was formed and standardisation beckoned. By 1982 Leyland Nationals and Bristol VRs ruled. Northern's individualism had a final fling just before privatisation when the MCW Metrobus Mk2 arrived in 1983. But the Transport Act 1985 was on its way, and formation of Go-Ahead Northern, which would eventually become Go-Ahead Group.