It was just after the first world war had finished that Southdown Motor Services arrived in Horsham. The business was formed in 1915 with the amalgamation of the Worthing Motor Services, the country services of the Brighton and Hove Omnibus Company and the London and South Coast Haulage Company.
For the duration of the first World War the government took control of the best vehicles and used the workshops to make ammunition. Soon after the war ended the company expanded; on Thursday, 12th July, 1919 one bus supported by three staff extended the business to Horsham.
The first service from Horsham was the number 17 which ran to Brighton. Initially the bus was kept at Rice Brothers in Springfield Road until the depot in Denne Road was established in the September of 1924. The first garage could house up to five buses.
Southdown also had a presence in the town centre. In 1923 they moved into offices at 22 Richmond Terrace, moving next door to number 23 by 1933. Today both sites are occupied by Oxfam, no 22 being the left hand unit. From these offices the company ran the scheduled journeys to nearby towns such as Brighton and Worthing. It also ran excursions much further afield; in 1950 they were running 17 day tours to France and Switzerland.
Between the two world wars Southdown absorbed many smaller bus companies across the county including at least four in Horsham, see table below. The overall territory was ‘protected’ with border agreements with neighbouring bus companies.
|5 Nov 1932||Blue Bus Service|
|4 Oct 1934||Carter Bros|
|1 Aug 1934||W.H. Rayner & Son|
|20 Mar 1935||W.F. Alexander|
On the 18th January 1935 the bus company moved into new premises further down Denne Road. By 1948 the garage could house up to 55 buses. In 1951 a clubroom was opened and the following year they proved their importance to the local community by employing a total of 111 staff.
1987 was the year that Southdown moved out of Horsham, closing the Denne Road depot although it was used for a short time to store ‘retired’ vehicles. The garage was demolished later that year. In December the Carfax office was also closed.