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S742, a preserved London General liveried bus

The London General Omnibus Company or LGOC, was the principal bus operator in London between 1855 and 1933. It was also, for a short period between 1909 and 1912, a motor bus manufacturer.[1]



A LGOC motor bus c1903.

The London General Omnibus Company was founded in 1855 to amalgamate and regulate the many independent horse-drawn omnibus services then operating in London. Originally an Anglo-French enterprise, also known as the Compagnie Generale des Omnibus de Londres, the LGOC soon became the largest omnibus operator in London. It bought out hundreds of independently owned buses and established a consistent level of service for its fleet. Within a year, the LGOC controlled 600 of London's 810 omnibuses.[2]

Under its chairman Sir John Pound, in 1902 it looked at an option to purchase a competitor, the Star Omnibus Company, but it was unable to complete negotiations. LGOC began using motor omnibuses in 1902, and the last LGOC horse-drawn bus ran on 25 October 1911.[3]

In 1908 the LGOC bought the Road Car Company, the Vanguard Company, and its other main rivals, thereby gaining a virtual monopoly in London.[4]

The merger of these three companies (the Road Car Company was also known as Union Jack owing to its habit of flying the British flag on its vehicles) gave the new and enlarged LGOC the most experienced operating and engineering personnel of any operator - and perhaps manufacturer - in the country at the time.[5]

The LGOC absorbed the Great Eastern London Motor Omnibus Company (previously known as London Motor Omnibus Company) in March 1911.[6]

In 1912, the Underground Group, which owned most of the London Underground, bought the LGOC. In 1933, the LGOC, along with the rest of the Underground Group, became part of the new London Passenger Transport Board. The name London General fell into disuse, and London Transport instead became synonymous with the red London bus.[7][8]


LGOC began producing motor omnibuses for its own use in 1909 at works established in premises inherited from Vanguard at Blackhorse Lane, Walthamstow, London. The first model built was the LGOC X-type, which was designed by Frank Searle, LGOC's chief engineer. The X-type was followed by the LGOC B-type, from the same designer.[7][9]

After the Underground Group's acquisition of the LGOC in 1912, the bus manufacturing elements of the LGOC were split out to create the Associated Equipment Company (AEC).

Rebirth of the nameEdit

In the privatisation of London bus services in the 1980s, London Transport created a series of shadow bus operating companies with names of geographic or historic significance, and one of these was christened London General in honour of the LGOC. The new London General was initially privatised by management buy-out, and acquired by the Go-Ahead Group in 1996.

Popular cultureEdit

The London General Omnibus Company was featured in the opening ceremony of the 2012 Summer Olympic Games in London. Isambard Kingdom Brunel, played by actor Kenneth Branagh, was depicted arriving in a green horse-drawn London General Omnibus Company Limited bus at the start of the ceremony.[10]

In the video game Assassin's Creed Syndicate published by Ubisoft in 2015, assassins come to the aid of Edward Hodson Bayley and company, who was said to be responsible for the founding of the united London General Omnibus Company in the storyline campaign, supplying omnibuses for the city.


See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Day, John (1973). The Story of the London Bus. London Regional Transport. ISBN 9780853290377.
  2. ^ "From omnibus to ecobus, 1829-1850". London Transport Museum. Archived from the original on 9 June 2007. Retrieved 3 July 2007.
  3. ^ James H. Winter. London's Teeming Streets: 1830-1914. p. 203.
  4. ^ "From omnibus to ecobus, 1901-1913, 3rd page". London Transport Museum. Archived from the original on 30 June 2007. Retrieved 3 July 2007.
  5. ^ Marshall, Prince (1972). Wheels of London. The Sunday Times Magazine. ISBN 0-7230-0068-9.
  6. ^ "Omnibus Amalgamation". The Southern Cross Times. X (94). Western Australia. 29 March 1911. p. 3. Retrieved 19 September 2017 – via National Library of Australia.
  7. ^ a b "From omnibus to ecobus, 1919-1938, 4th page". London Transport Museum. Archived from the original on 9 June 2007. Retrieved 3 July 2007. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  8. ^ "From omnibus to ecobus, 1919-1938, 3rd page". London Transport Museum. Archived from the original on 8 June 2007. Retrieved 3 July 2007.
  9. ^ Thackray, Brian (2004). AEC Vehicles: Origins to 1929. Venture Publications Ltd. ISBN 1-898432-44-9
  10. ^ "Olympic Ceremonies - London 2012". BBC. Retrieved 28 July 2012.

External linksEdit