tilling group / national bus collection now available

by | Apr 29, 2024 | News

The Pensions Archive Trust is delighted to announce that a new collection is now ready for viewing at London Metropolitan Archives, an archive of pension documentation compiled by Peter Fairweather during his long and varied career in the bus industry, starting at the Tilling Group. PAT is extremely grateful to Ian Fairweather, a member of PAT’s Advisory Group, for the generous donation of his father’s archive to PAT.

The Tilling Group was one of two conglomerates that controlled almost all the major bus operators in the United Kingdom between World Wars I and II and until nationalisation in 1948. The National Bus Company was formed in 1969, mainly from former Tilling Group and British Electric Traction subsidiaries. The nationalised company operated in England and Wales between 1969 and 1988. From 1986 onwards, bus services were deregulated and progressively privatised.

Peter Thomas Fairweather started working for Wilts and Dorset Motor Services Limited  (part of the Tilling Group) in 1946 at Salisbury bus station, initially as a schedules clerk with responsibility for working out bus routes and timings. In 1963, Wilts and Dorset was taken over by Hants and Dorset Motor Services Limited and in 1969 both companies became part of the National Bus Company, with the Wilts and Dorset name being dropped in 1972.

Peter joined the Tilling Group Pension Fund when it was created for the staff of its companies in 1952. The administration of the fund was taken over by the National Bus Company in 1969, and the name of the pension fund was changed to the National Bus Pension Fund in 1973, under the administration of Standard Life. When he changed employment to the Hampshire Bus Company, his NBPF entitlements were transferred to the Hampshire Bus Company Limited Retirement and Death Benefits Plan This fund was then transferred to the Stagecoach Group Pension Scheme. Standard Life remained the fund administrator for all these schemes.

When the nationalised bus industry was deregulated in 1986, Peter became Special Projects Manager for Hampshire Bus based at Southampton bus station. In 1987 Hampshire Bus was taken over by Stagecoach, following which he took early retirement in 1988, after working for more than 40 years in the bus industry.

In 1996, following a ruling by the Pension Ombudsman, the Government had to repay the surplus it had taken from the National Bus Company Pension Fund when it was privatised in 1986. The matter had been investigated following a complaint by 69-year-old former bus driver Francis Wheeler, who had been campaigning for over 6 years. He had always maintained that the scheme rules stated that, if the scheme was wound up, any surplus should be returned to members. The case followed a privatisation that had already proven to be contentious. It soon became clear that it would take a substantial investment of time and money to find the former members of the NBC scheme affected by this decision: Standard Life estimated the number of pensioners affected at around 50 000 . The benefits to be distributed, taking interest into account, totalled £365m in 2001. Beneficiaries could choose between a transfer payment to an approved scheme of their choice or a lump sum.

Although the fiduciary duty fell on the NBC trustees, this collection shows that other pension funds, their administrators, and those acting on behalf of the beneficiaries followed the matter closely.


The collection includes scheme and member documents relating to the pension schemes of the Tilling Group, National Bus Company, Hampshire Bus Company, and Stagecoach Group, together with information relating to the members’ additional voluntary contributions. The material also includes member announcements, correspondence, and articles relating to the pension ombudsman ruling concerning a return of surplus from the National Bus Company pension schemes.

To view the collection records on the London Metropolitan Archives website, click here and search ‘LMA/4853’