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01502 574669 (Lowestoft)
01728 830414 (Leiston)
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Belle Coaches have been operating continuously in the Lowestoft area since the early 1920's. Mr Benjamin Robert Shreeve started in Partnership with Mr Charles Day running a bus service between Lowestoft and Oulton Broad using 14 seater Model T Ford charabancs. The partnership was dissolved in 1924 and Mr Shreeve formed his own company, Shreeve & Co.
Early work included summer outings, local football and darts teams, dances etc. School contracts began in the early 1930's and by the outbreak of war in 1939 the fleet had expanded to 7 coaches (the largest being 32 seats) and 2 taxis. During the war non-essential journeys ceased but the coaches were kept busy evacuating children and on numerous contracts for the Ministry Of Defence. The present limited company, B.R. Shreeve & Sons Limited, was formed in 1943.
The first coaches had individual names. Ours were MayBelle (after Mr Shreeve's wife, Mabel), HeatherBelle and PleasureBelle etc. These were later shortened to "Belle" coaches as the fleet size increased. After the war, new coaches were in very short supply so the company started building its own vehicles - a practice which continued until 1964.
By the 1950's, Mr Shreeve's three sons were working in the business and there was a rapid expansion with the acquisition of several local companies. In 1959 Wightman's Coaches of Saxmundham were purchased and, soon after, a new operating base was established at Leiston, primarily to serve the United States Air Force bases at Bentwaters and Woodbridge. Two more companies were acquired in the 1960's and 1970's (Jackson's Coaches of Southwold and Nightingale Coaches of Beccles) and the fleet expanded to 60 vehicles.
The American bases closed in the early 1990's and the fleet gradually reduced to its present level of 44 vehicles. At the same time, the company started its own coach holiday programme (under the name Lazy Days Holidays) and upgraded the fleet with the purchase of several executive vehicles. In 1997 a new extension was built on to the existing workshop and MOT testing station at Leiston, so that all maintenance could be carried out under one roof. In 1998 the Lowestoft operating depot was relocated from Horn Hill to premises in Riverside and then in 2009 moved to more suitable premises at Hadenham Road.
The company was run by two of Mr Benjamin Shreeve's grandsons, Robert Shreeve & Ken Shreeve until July 2015, when Mr Robert Shreeve retired from the business and Ken Shreeve's daughter, Amy Churchyard, is now taking the company forward through the next generation.