hidden europe 46

Pity the poor horses

by Nicky Gardner


Thomas Tilling revolutionised bus transport in London. Among his pioneering ideas was the notion of having regular bus stops along a route. But the company that bore his name was not always in the forefront of developments. In 1914 Thomas Tilling Ltd still ran London's last ever horse-drawn bus service.

For those who know their London buses, 4 August 1914 was not just the day on which Britain declared war on Germany. That day also saw the end of horse-drawn bus services in London. In 1899, there were almost 4000 horse buses regularly plying London’s streets. But, within just a very few years, transport in the capital was transformed by motor buses. By late 1904, a score of new motorised routes were in operation. In terms of numbers of passengers carried in the autumn of that year, the most successful of this new breed of bus service was the Peckham to Oxford Street route operated by Thomas Tilling Ltd. The company had long been a bold innovator in the bus trade.

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