Company History

The origins of Ridlers can be traced back to 1945 when Walter Ridler decided there was a need for a Taxi Service on Exmoor, and bought himself a 1930s Austin Taxi. His services were in great demand, and he soon expanded his business with more cars. In the early 1950s, he was joined in the business by his son John, and John’s wife Doreen. A Garage and Filling Station were built, by them, on a site acquired on the edge of Dulverton, where Ridlers is still based today.

Walter Ridler with his Taxi 1946

Walter Ridler with his Taxi 1946

Walter Ridler with his Taxi 1946

The 1950s saw the business continue to expand with the purchase of coaches of the famous Bedford OB, Duple type. These were used on local advertised Exmoor Tours and for private hire. In the days when it was the exception to own a private car, day tours were very popular, and these coaches were in great demand.

A Bedford OB Coach about to depart on a Sunday School outing to Dartmoor in 1956. Note the early type of air-conditioning, the sliding sun roof!

A Bedford OB Coach about to depart on a Sunday School outing to Dartmoor in 1956. Note the early type of air-conditioning, the sliding sun roof!

 

The acquisition of some of the first Somerset County Council School Contracts in the late 1950s firmly established the coach side of the business, and led to the purchase of more modern coaches. The 1960s saw diversification into express services for “Royal Blue”, the Westcountry’s forerunner to National Express.

John Ridler with his Leyland Burlingham coach 1960

John Ridler with his Leyland Burlingham coach 1960

An AEC Duple seen in 1968

An AEC Duple seen in 1968

In 1972, the garage site was redeveloped, with a large purpose-built car and commercial workshop replacing the original small garage. The new workshop was designed to provide the latest facilities for maintaining the coach fleet, which was growing in size and number. These facilities, with regular equipment updates over the years are still in use today

AEC Reliance

A 1964 AEC Reliance with Harrington Bodywork was the company “flagship” for several years, and continued in the fleet well into the 1980s It is now in preservation in Cornwall.

A 1973 Ford R226 Duple Dominant used as a school contract vehicle into the 1980s

A 1973 Ford R226 Duple Dominant used as a school contract vehicle into the 1980s

1984 saw the arrival of the next generation of Ridlers, when John’s son Gary joined him in the business. After John’s retirement in the mid-90s, Gary and his wife Sarah took over the running of the business. The business was incorporated in 2002, with Gary and Sarah Ridler as directors. Throughout the late 80s and 90s a big investment programme was undertaken to thoroughly modernize the coach fleet, all types of coach work being undertaken. This has continued into the new millennium, and Ridlers now run some of the most up to date vehicles available, and are well set for the challenges of the 21st century.

Some of the fleet in the early 90s

Some of the fleet in the early 90s

We pride ourselves on our history which we have built on over the years.

The company is big enough to cope with any coaching requirement, and because we are still a family run firm, we are able to give our customers the personal service many expect. We look forward to quoting you for your requirements.

The type of Executive Coach run by Ridlers today.

The type of Executive Coach run by Ridlers today.