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  • The birth of National Welsh
  • Subsequent History

The assets of Red & White were transferred to WW on 1 January 1978, and on 27 April 1978, Western Welsh became National Welsh Omnibus Services Ltd. During the previous night, the WW/R&W/Rhondda fleetnames were replaced with 'National Welsh' on the nearsides, or 'Cymru Cenedlaethol' on the offsides. A competition to decide the new name had been held, and this somewhat predictable name was supposedly chosen on that basis. The Welsh version is, as I understand it, not an exact translation. There were a number of former Red & White services in the Forest of Dean and adjoining areas that were entirely in England, including the trunk service from Hereford to Gloucester. However, such geographical niceties did not seem to trouble the NBC, who seemed content to replace the 'Wilts & Dorset' name with 'Hants & Dorset' for buses in Wiltshire, and who even seemed to discover a previously unknown River Alder somewhere to the south west of London! (All right, I know what you are going to say - Wilts & Dorset already had considerably more operations in Hampshire than they had in Dorset, years before the NBC was even thought of!) Jones continued to use their own name and blue livery for another two and a half years (until October 1980), the anomalies of the fares on the routes between Newport and Ebbw Vale having still not been completely resolved at the time of the formation of National Welsh. Whether the fare levels were the real reason for the retention of the blue livery for so long (uniquely in the NBC) is open to debate; the possibility of a clause in the contract for the sale of the company, requiring the retention of the identity for a period (ten years presumably) has been hinted at, but I have been unable to find any official confirmation.

Despite the publicity, the introduction of the new name was, in reality, a purely cosmetic exercise.

National Welsh was 'financially challenged' during most of its short history, only managing to make a profit in three years - 1978, 1987 (the year it was privatised) and 1988. (Viv Corbin's book 'The Rise and Fall of National Welsh' gives full details). To what extent the thirsty Leyland Nationals contributed to this is pure conjecture - but more economical buses might have eased the pain! Despite that, the Leyland National fleet remained largely intact up to the summer of 1987, and some secondhand examples had been purchased in 1980-82.

The introduction of 'Bustler' minibus services in the early post-deregulation era, and the reorganisation and split of the company in early 1991, left approximately half of the indigenous Leyland National fleet still working for the successor companies in November 1991. National Welsh went into receivership in January 1992 - in what was probably the most notable failure of any bus operator in the post deregulation era.