How has coach travel changed over the years?

Over the centuries, UK holidaymakers have always enjoyed exploring new places both in the UK and across Europe from the comfort of a coach. We take a look at how coach holidays have changed since they first began back in the early 1900’s.

Horse-drawn stagecoaches had been used in Great Britain as early as the 1500’s but with the invention and success of the railway, stagecoach operators began purchasing motor coaches in the early 1900’s. According to research, it is believed the very first coach tours began in 1903. William Webster commenced trading as a haulage and removals contractor and passenger carrier and offered coach transport to holiday-makers keen to have daytrips and weekends away to North Wales and Manchester.

The first tours to Continental Europe were not offered until around 1938. Smiths claimed to be the first company to operate coach tours to Europe after World War 2 and took a coach of excited holiday-makers to Switzerland in May 1946. The package tour revolutionised coach travel and it became increasingly popular to travel on coaches of varying luxury to destinations abroad.

Way back in the early days, coach seats would have been little more than an uncomfortable wooden bench offering little support and safety. Fast forward several decades and coach seat comfort has improved significantly. It is no longer necessary to avoid the seats over the wheel arch or the engine. Modern coaches such as those in Rover’s fleet, along with comfortable padded seats offering calf support, have adjustable headrests and have a longer coach body which increases on-board space. Our executive coaches have reclining seats with arm rests for extra comfort.

Air conditioning has certainly changed since the early days when coach tours began. The presence of dirt, dust, insects and pollen would have made air quality inside passenger compartments of buses prior to air conditioning being installed very poor. In 1930, C & C Kelvinator fitted a customized Cadillac car with a 0.37 kW Kelvinator refrigeration unit powered by a 1.1 kW gasoline engine however it was a few years before air conditioning in coaches was installed. Nowadays, for the comfort of their passengers, many coach operators, including ourselves have vehicles fitted with independently controllable fresh air supply and full air-conditioning units which renew and improve air quality on-board and make for a pleasant journey in the heat.

Toilets on coaches provide extra comfort, especially for those travelling long distances. In the early days of coach travel, passengers would have to inform the driver they needed the toilet and he would pull over at his earliest convenience which would more than likely be a roadside pub or restaurant. Long gone are the days of ‘comfort stops’. With clean washroom and toilet facilities on all of our holiday tour coaches, Rover passengers needn’t worry about having too much to drink on-board!

Whilst travelling to their destination, coach passengers these days can use radio, CD and DVD players to stay entertained and to help pass the time. Historically entertainment on longer journeys will have been more of a communal affair. Passengers will have participated in singalongs or recitals and there may have been the odd game of tiddlywinks too!

At Rover European we aim to provide fantastic holiday opportunities as well as long-lasting memories and offer a number of exciting coach holidays to some of the top destinations throughout the UK and Europe. Our stylish fleet of vehicles are designed to the highest specifications, with the latest environmental emissions controls. They are maintained in our own workshops by our own highly experienced engineering staff. We also have the benefit of a full back up service 24hrs a day, 365 days a year both in the UK and across Europe.

To find out more about Rover European or to discuss any of our coach holidays in more detail, please call 01453 832121, alternatively email [email protected]