Brookes Bros Motors

White Rose Motor Services



The initial passenger transport business operated by the enterprising Brookes family was horse drawn vehicles. It is believed they had over sixty horses which were not only stabled at their premises in Rhyl, but at other premises in varying locations throughout north Wales so that their four horse drawn touring carriages could make long journeys with a change of horses en route. Despite the name that later emerged these carriages became know as the 'Red Coaches'.

(High Street in Rhyl - the site where the Crosville Bus Station was for many years)

The family had various business interests and with the development of petrol engine motor transport the brothers of Joseph, Daniel and Thomas involved themselves in this new technology in various ways.

(A White Rose Leyland Charabanc built in 1920 about to depart for Snowdon - photo courtesy Rob Richardson)

Their first motor buses purchased were charabancs and included a Fiat eight seater and a larger Lacre. Following on from the success of running charabancs, which started to replace the horse drawn touring carriages, they began acquiring and operating open top double deck buses that would be utilised on various routes around Rhyl.

The majority of the new vehicles they started to buy were Leylands and they were painted in white enamel and bore an emblem of the White Rose. This then became the firms name and lives on today in various places including a shopping arcade with that name. It can be seen from the letterhead that the firm were actually the local agent for Leyland.

Before the firm were able to continue their expansion the first World War had a significant effect. Most of their buses, even ones just delivered, were requisitioned by the War Ministry. However only the chassis were required so the bodies were removed and stored. Some activities continued during the war in particular transporting troops to and from the Kinmel Army Camp into Rhyl.

Later the stored bodies were placed on newer chassis obtained. Interestingly these newer buses were also given the previous registration numbers that were associated with the stored old bodies.

After the war the expansion rapidly continued. Tours began to be offered covering most of North Wales. There was also a huge development in the bus routes offered with a fleet of both open top double deckers and new Leyland single deckers.

(The letter head indicates the range of services provided by the firm)

The activities of the firm were not restricted to buses and coaches. They were furniture removers, funeral directors, providers of ambulances and they even had a dustcart and provided the tractor for the lifeboat. They also operated a motor mail van between Ruthin and Rhyl. Originally this was made up of two horse services, one between Ruthin and Mold and a second between Denbigh and Rhyl.

White Rose were not the first business to operate a motor bus in the Rhyl area. That honour had gone to a business founded by Mr C Southworth. That business grew and became, at one stage, part of the company of Rhyl and Potteries Motors Limited. The business then operated under the name Robins but continued to trade as Rhyl and Potteries. The name of Primrose Coaches was also used. Like White Rose the passenger transport business had two main activities – tours using coaches and also bus routes mainly around Rhyl. In 1926 White Rose purchased the bus side of the business and four Strachan bodies AEC single deck buses were transferred. The coach side continued under the name of Primrose.

As the White Rose firm expanded they needed various premises to facilitate their operations. The main depot in Rhyl was the Albion Garage situated in Ffynongroew Road. This continued to be the main base for Crosville in Rhyl and whilst the buildings have changed on this piece of land the premises is still used today by Arriva as their Rhyl depot. Also in Rhyl the firm used a depot in Crescent Road and this under Crosville was developed to be a major coach station in the town.

Premises were also established in Prestatyn. The depot in Sandy Lane was mainly used for buses, whereas, a larger building on the corner of Bastion Road and Marine Road became the White Rose Garage and was the base for the furniture removal part of the business. This latter building was commandeered by the army during the second world war and for a number of years until recently was the Territorial Army centre.

The Brookes brothers acquired land at the former White Lion Yard in High Street, Rhyl. This became the bus station for the town and remained so for a number of years.

The development of routes also necessitated a depot in Denbigh and this was built at Lenten Pool. This remained a bus depot for Crosville and the building survives today albeit that it has been empty for a while and is earmarked for development.

Also operating in Denbigh were two other competing bus companies. One was 'Red Dragon' {LINK} and the other was E. (Ted) M. Jones who traded as Denbigh and District Motor Services. This business was bought by Brookes in 1925 but no buses were transferred. Fierce and bitter competition existed between White Rose and Red Dragon in Denbigh and it did not help that the former owner of Denbigh and District Motor Service, Ted, went to work is association with Red Dragon.

(One of five Shelvoke and Drewry Toastracks used by White Rose and later by Crosville)

Brookes Brothers had within their fleet a dust cart. One of the specialist manufacturers of dustcarts for many years was Shelvoke & Drewry, who also produced vehicles used by the railway companies for use within stations for the carriage of goods. An unusual adaption of the S & D chassis became what was known as a 'Toast-rack'. This became an ideal vehicle for using on promenade services. White Rose had a total of five of these vehicles, the first of which arrived in 1926. These became a very popular vehicle in Rhyl. Crosville also purchased a further 10 of these over the years.

(White Rose's Leyland DM719 - the Chassis was requisitioned by the War Office and the body used later on a newer chassis)

White Rose introduced a sequential fleet numbering system and the last number issued was 101. However at least 118 buses were known to have been owned by the firm during their period of operation.

(White Rose Fleet no.55 DM4832 - a Leyland Leviathan LG1 built in 1926)

In 1929 discussion began between the Brookes brothers and the Railway Company ,LMS (London Midland and Scottish), to sell the bus and coaching side of the business. At that time the Railway company was running Crosville. It was not until the following year that a price of around £195,000 was agreed and the transfer took place on 1st May 1930. It happened to be the same day as a new company had been formed to run the Crosville operation separate from LMS. 89 vehicles (including a breakdown car and a lorry) passed to Crosville together with the bus station and the two depots in Rhyl as well as the depots in Prestatyn and Denbigh,

The Brookes Brothers continued with their other businesses, and also received a reasonable income from Crosville as one building that was missed from the sale was the tours office on the promenade and therefore rent had to be paid by Crosville for this provision.


The table below gives a list of all recorded vehicles known to have been with this operator. I am indebted to David Donati for his dedicated work in compiling this data and enabling me to present it.

In the right hand column - where available - there is a link to a photograph of the vehicle. The photo will open in a new window. Links in CAPITAL LETTERS suggest the vehicle is seen when with the operator.

Chassis and body numbers are to be found on the right hand side of the table below. You may need to scroll to see them.

© Ron Hughes and David Donati - any reproduction should give credit to the originator and may require permission.

White Rose