Horseman invests £1.3m in Panthers

Reading-based Horseman Coaches has bought five new Plaxton Panther B8R coaches for £1.3m.

Director James Horseman with the new coaches

The latest vehicles are all 12.8m 53-seat luxury coaches, with parallel lift lockers, servery, fridge, toilets, onboard entertainment and eight-camera CCTV systems.

They are powered by Volvo DK8 engines coupled with I-Shift transmissions, and have real-time tracking and telematics.

30 in five years

They join the 60-strong Horseman fleet, operating out of its state-of-the-art six-acre depot in Reading.

Director James Horseman says: “We have a long relationship with Plaxton, having bought well over 30 vehicles from them in the last five years alone, including Cheetah, Leopard, Elite and Panther coaches.

“These latest Panthers are ideal for our type of business. They fit the bill across the wide range of services we offer, from school contracts to corporate work, private hires, and airport transfers for Heathrow, Luton, Stanstead and Gatwick, to special events, day trips and the wide range of tours we operate in continental Europe.” 

Back from a blow

Horseman Coaches was founded in 1977 on the basis of a £100 deposit on a secondhand minicoach that Keith Horseman drove on the weekends.

Within three years the company had 10 vehicles and steadily grew into a substantial family-run business.

It was struck a blow in May 2008 when the local authority served a compulsory purchase order on its premises, for road improvements to junction 11 on the M4, giving it 42 days to relocate.

Horseman acquired an empty Panasonic manufacturing and distribution facility on the outskirts of Reading and turned it into its present modern facility.

James says: “It all seems like a lifetime ago, but it was a traumatic time for the whole family and our long-serving, loyal employees.

“Looking back, I suppose we were simply resolute in our determination not to go under and, in retrospect, we are in many ways the living proof that adversity is opportunity.”