Belle Vue Company History
Remembering the old Belle Vue Manchester
Belle Vue in the 70’s
The Company, Belle Vue (Manchester) Ltd originally world famous for pleasure rides including 'The Bobs' and the beautiful zoological gardens, is now one of the UK’s leading brands in Coach Hire Management Services.
Based on the theme of a fun-packed day out from the old Belle Vue, the new Belle Vue is geared towards fun packed coach trip excursions for the private hire market, educational school trips and the executive & corporate market.
From a variety of corporate coach tours including multi vehicle movements for thousands of delegates attending a conference, to day trips for senior citizens from our group excursion brochure, visits to fun filled theme parks for the kids, school trips, race day outings, Belle Vue cover everything to provide a group with a great coach hire experience. Our services extend across the Northwest, the UK and into the EU.
The original company started trading in 1925 and became the country's leading pleasure park. With a vast site featuring pleasure rides, zoo, circus, dance halls, wrestling, boxing, roller skating, bowling, bingo, speedway, stock cars, greyhound racing, a lake and beautiful gardens to name just some of the attractions.
Belle Vue has a rich and varied heritage!
The memories of the original Belle Vue still linger in the minds of those fortunate enough to have experienced the pleasure of such an outstanding theme park. The company was broken up into sections and sold off in the seventies. The original site in Manchester was sold for redevelopment. Today the site hosts a bingo hall, cinema complex, a private housing estate and a vehicle auction centre.
You can view videos of the old Belle Vue Manchester here:
Mike was very helpful and knowledgeable and he was exceptionally patient with us. He made our day go so smoothly and with humour! Thank you Mike Hope to see you soon.
The Start of the new Belle Vue (Manchester) Ltd, from 1996 onwards operating coaches.
Opposite the site of the old speedway track (now vehicle auctions) is where the new Belle Vue was first incorporated. The business developed consistent growth from 1992 to 2011, then the company has grown four fold to the present day.
The company was formed in 1993 by the present directors. The company was formed when Philip Hitchen (Managing Director) had a burning desire to bring an Executive Taxi (Private Hire Car) service to the city of Manchester. Philip Hitchen joined Ian Braggs company Belle Vue Cars in December 1992 and he started to expand the business quite successfully in a short period of time. Philip Hitchen then purchased the business of Mount Road Cars and joined forces with Ian Bragg in 1993 and merged the two companies of Belle Vue Cars and Mount Road Cars and made the company into one of Manchester’s leading private hire car companies.
The Company rapidly built up a client base of hundreds of blue-chip companies. With uniformed professional drivers and quality executive cars, the company’s growth soon started to take off.
The company changed its name from 'Belle Vue Cars' to 'Belle Vue (Manchester) Ltd' and restructured to a Limited Company in 1996 and the company expanded into the PCV minibus and coach market in 1997 through the direction of Ian Bragg. Belle Vue also acquired the purchase of VIP Cars, a local private hire company to expand its local customer base.
The purchase of Griffiths Coaches - Hyde
In 1997 Belle Vue expanded into the PCV Coach Business, which saw rapid growth between 1997 and 1999. In 1998 Belle Vue purchased Griffiths Coaches of Hyde, Cheshire.
In 1999 a Chauffeur Driven Car & Limousine department was expanded with a fleet of Mercedes, Jaguars, Rolls Royce’s & American Stretch Limousines. Belle Vue was now highly geared to serving the corporate client. With this in mind the taxi side of the business was sold in 1999 and the company reinvested in its coach fleet by purchasing a number of Executive Coaches.
With a fleet of new minibuses and quality coaches the company had a diverse fleet of executive vehicles. At the turn of the Millennium the company expanded its services into Coach Tours & Holidays. With a variety of day excursions, Weekend Breaks & Holidays, the company rapidly built a reputation for value for money holidays! A classic example of this is door to door holidays, especially favoured by senior citizens. This side of the operation was sold off to the UK Holiday Group around 2012.
Recruitment of Kenny Walsh.
In 2001 Belle Vue installed it's own Maintenance & Service Division, managed by Kenny Walsh. With ‘enthusiasm and dedication’ Kenny has proven to be a valuable player in the Belle Vue management team and has since been promoted to Maintenance Director in 2009. Kens dedication saw him win the Engineer of the Year at the UK Coach Awards in 2015.
With coach tour operations in 2002 expanding to France, Germany, Belgium, Holland and Switzerland the company's desire to conquer new shores travelled on. With commitment to training and reinvestment in the fleet the consistent growth of the Company was assured. Belle Vue played a major part in the transportation of the 2002 Manchester Commonwealth Games.
Belle Vue played a major part in the transportation of the 2002 Manchester Commonwealth Games
The start of the Yellow School Bus Service
In 2003 Belle Vue pioneered a new Yellow School Bus Scheme in conjunction with the GMPTE. (Now operating as TfGM, Transport for Greater Manchester). Belle Vue have been working diligently in providing transport solutions for home to school travel resulting in less rush hour madness and poor antisocial behaviour on the school buses. All students are committed to behaving in an acceptable fashion and our Yellow Bus Scheme is proving to be a relaxed and reliable means of Transport.
We currently operate Contracts right across the City in Tameside, Stockport, Trafford and Manchester and we are pleased to offer our brand new fleet of Yellow School Buses for Hire and Reward for all School, College and University based Transportation.
(to Leeds Sports Arena)
Driver - Marcus Welby
11 December 2015
I book coaches for school events so I needed a decent service to transport dancers. I can honestly say I will definitely use you again for out of school events and will pass your good services to other local businesses and stele holders. The driver Marcus was dressed very smart and professional and is a credit to your business, his manners and patience was brilliant! Also when Marcus introduced himself he had already done research about where we were going which was outstanding!
New purpose-built Maintenance Facilities
2004 saw Belle Vue sustain major growth in all areas of the business. The coach fleet was expanded with quality vehicles and Belle Vue’s policy of staff training and fleet reinvestment saw major returns in the quality of service that the company provided. Many major contracts in the education sectors of the business were expanded and Belle Vue also expanded into Stage Carriage Bus Services.
Belle Vue also recruited and quality approved many other coach suppliers throughout the Northwest to ensure the range of services was extended beyond the existing fleet’s capacity. The Maintenance Department was also expanded as a new site was secured and new garage facilities were purpose built to ensure the future development of our fleet maintenance program.
In 2005 Belle Vue had already developed a high reputation as a quality coach tour holiday provider over the previous five years. With many senior citizens relying on our door to door holiday service and the personal care and attention of our Office Staff and Tour Managers, the expansion of this department was continuous.
Belle Vue put three senior managers through CPC Courses (Certificate of Professional Competence) in 2005 ensuring that the Industries professional coach management requirements were installed right throughout our Company. This included the Transport and Sales Offices, the Accounts Office and also our Maintenance Department which was rapidly becoming a major contractor of vehicle inspections and maintenance services to other operators.
The purchase of County Coaches, Stockport and the relocation of Belle Vue to Discovery Park
In August 2005, Belle Vue expanded its Wheelchair Accessible Coach Service by purchasing 5 wheel chair accessible coaches, one standard coach and the private hire client base of County Coaches Ltd who were based at Stockport. The Directors from County Coaches had decided to retire and a deal was struck by Belle Vue, which ensured Belle Vue would continue to provide a professional and comprehensive wheel chair accessible coach service to the client base of County Coaches.
Belle Vue recruited some of the driver team that provided a quality service. At the end of September after the County business had been incorporated into the Belle Vue system, Belle Vue relocated to the former premises of County Coaches.
With other expanding travel services the new premises could accommodate the projected growth plans of the business in the coming future. The new operating centre would create improved customer services in our bus and coach operations, our door- to-door holidays and our maintenance inspection services.
The purchase of Lambeth Coaches, Stockport
In 2009 Belle Vue acquired the business of Lambeth Coaches Ltd of Reddish, Stockport. Having traded for 35 years the owners decided to retire amidst growing competition in a competitive market place. Belle Vue had been a major competitor to Lambeth in the late 90s and early 00s and the acquisition resulted in the loss of a local operator. Belle Vue took only three vehicles and two staff from the business and acquired the customer base to expand further.
2011 The Launch of a new philosophy
In 2011, Philip Hitchen our MD, had a brief affair with cancer and had to receive chemotherapy in the autumn. It was during his stay in hospital that he decided to change his life values.
Phil reassessed everything across the business, and cut out all the dead wood and areas of business that were not profitable. He also started to work on the business rather than in it. Adam Bradshaw was recruited as Sales Manager. Two businesses were purchased including Freshfield Coaches and Kings Coaches. And the door to door holiday service was sold off to the UK Holiday Group as this was perceived as unprofitable business compared to the main line transport system Belle Vue were operating.
Phil also introduced a new communication management system called iMA. iMA stands for ‘Identify,’ ‘Modify,’ and ‘Adapt’ when it comes to communicating with another human being. iMA helped drive down stress and increase harmony in the workplace leading to Belle Vue’s sales quadrupling over the next four years. Further details are available here: ima-bellevuecoach.com
The purchase of Freshfield Coaches, Stockport
In 2011 Belle Vue acquired the business known as Freshfield Coaches based in Bredbury, Stockport. Having run a fleet of 8 vehicles Belle Vue took over the business, whilst the owner sold the assets and retired to Cyprus. The mix of clientele mixed well with the Belle Vue profile and gave the company a great opportunity to expand our school client base.
The purchase of Kings Minibuses, Dukinfield
In 2011 Belle Vue also acquired Kings Minibuses, a small coach operator based in Dukinfield. Kings had some useful school contracts that mixed well with the Belle Vue profile. One of these contracts was Manchester Grammar School.
8 Brand New Hybrid School Buses arrive in April 2012
In 2011, the company was experiencing considerable growth with sales up 50% from acquisitions of local operators and also increased school contracts awarded from TfGM. This included 8 new contracts that were serviced by 8 brand new Optare Hybrid vehicles. Whilst there was a delay in production of these vehicles, Belle Vue provided 8 spare school buses that created further opportunity whilst the Optare vehicles were being manufactured. The vehicles finally arrived in April 2012. From September 2011 to January 2012 Belle Vue had increased sales by 50% taking the fleet total from 34 vehicles to 53 and revenues from £1.8M to £3.5M.
ISO9001 Quality Status Awarded August 2012.
In August 2012, Belle Vue were awarded the ISO9001 quality kite mark, the highest standard of quality recognised across Europe. Although there are standards within the industry such as Coach Marque, Belle Vue did not think our clients would recognise these or relate to them, so the director decided to go for the ISO9001 status which is universally recognised all over Europe. This made considerable improvements to our ethos of good customer service, quality systems across the company, improved complaints procedures and team morale.
In 2014 Belle Vue invested £3.5M in the fleet
In 2014 Belle Vue purchased 5 brand new Mercedes Benz Tourismo Coaches from Evobus UK. The company also took 5 more Optare School Buses from TfGM as part of new school contracts. The fleet became one of the most modern on the roads in the northwest.
Belle Vue also purchased our first team coach and started working in the corporate sector providing corporate match day hospitality to some local football teams on a regular basis. This corporate service also extended to the business community of Greater Manchester.
2015 The addition of more audited policies, quality awards and a famous actress
In 2015 Belle Vue produced an in travel coach safety video for our fleet similar to the ones the airlines use on the planes. Whilst producing the video, Belle Vue worked with actress Jennifer Williams, an ex Coronation Street star. After the production of the video Jeni Williams was offered a position managing our marketing department and joined the company in May 2015.
In the summer of 2015 Belle Vue had two more ISO policies certified. After having our quality policy certified to ISO9001 status in 2012, the company certified our Environmental Policy to ISO14001 and our Health & Safety Policy to ISO18001. Compliance was a priority to the business and now the company had an operating management system that ensured regulatory compliance was an everyday priority.
The company had also been installing professional auditors operating in the business on an annual basis over the past couple of years. This included the DVSA for fleet compliance, Lloyd Morgan Group for fleet compliance, Arthur J Gallagher Insurance (formerly Giles Insurance) for Health & Safety compliance, International Management Systems for Quality Management and Backhouse Jones Solicitors for Transport Management Compliance. These five auditors ensured our compliance standards were audited, measured and improved in the areas of fleet maintenance, health and safety, quality management, and transport management. Standards can never be too high when carrying human beings and the auditors work is a big part of ensuring the company remain at the forefront of the industry when it comes to passenger safety and comfort.
Belle Vue were decorated at the UK Coach Awards in 2015. (www.ukcoachawards.co.uk). Belle Vue won the Safety & Innovation Award for best use of our telematics systems ensuring our drivers have the best performance out on the road, and also the use of our in travel safety videos making passengers aware that safety is a priority whilst onboard the coach. Belle Vue also won Engineer of the Year when Ken Walsh, Belle Vue’s Maintenance Director was rewarded for his skill and professionalism in ensuring Belle Vue’s maintenance record was top of the industry.
Belle Vue were also a finalist in the Stockport Business Awards for Innovation. The company had developed an APP and displayed excellent use of our telematics system to be nominated in the local business awards.
Belle Vue also invested another £500,000 in another new Mercedes Benz Tourismo Coach, a new Mercedes Benz Tura 900 33 seater coach, and 8 Yellow Double Decker School Buses.
Belle Vue also invested in further senior management training in the area of the Insights Colour Profile System. Insights is a deeper version of IMA and the training helped develop our leadership development program with many of the senior management team being developed from the positions of coach driver, mechanic or office telesales person, which is a testament to the company’s people development and the tenacity and dedication of the team employed.
2016 the year of more award success
In 2016 Belle Vue had more success in the UK Coach Awards. Despite having competed in the UK Coach Awards and the Route One Excellence Awards over the past three years, often gaining the position of a finalist in the areas of Medium Sized Fleet Operator, Belle Vue scooped 3 Golds, 2 Silvers and a Bronze Award in the UK Coach Awards 2016.
Despite winning 2 Golds and a Bronze in the previous year Belle Vue had our biggest success to date.
Belle Vue secured the following awards:
Best Coach Industry Brand – Gold
Best Customer Service, Rik Tapper – Gold
Best Unsung Hero, Shannon Meakin – Gold
Best Medium Fleet Coach Operator – Silver
Best Unsung Hero, Donna Thompson – Silver
Best UK Coach Driver, John Gilbody – Bronze
You can visit the awards website here www.ukcoachawards.co.uk
We are also increasing the quality of the CPC Driver Training, with our training centre becoming JAUPT approved and our transport team have all been through NVQ courses. Belle Vue see quality in house training as the way forward to create ongoing improvements to our services.
Our goal is to create a UK transport system by road that is safer, cleaner and greener.
(to Bradford Media Museum)
Driver - Keith Jones
16 December 2015
We took a whole year group (140 students) to Bradford media museum and the journey there and pick up from school was trouble free! The coaches were waiting for us when we had finished and the driver Keith had thought about what route would be best to use to get us home faster! Brilliant, thank you.