UKCOA celebrates the 60th anniversary of Southgate and Finchley Coaches, which recently held a special anniversary event
This autumn we celebrate the 60th anniversary of Southgate and Finchley Coaches, based in North London. A special anniversary event was held recently, celebrating the occasion for this family-owned business, with long serving staff, industry partners and friends.
Mick Rice, who founded Southgate Coaches, originally trained as a motor mechanic before moving to Finchley Coaches in 1961, expanding his skills and knowledge by servicing and maintaining commercial vehicles. He bought his first coach in 1963, which for a time was parked outside his home in Woodlands Road, New Southgate. In those early days, a lot of work was undertaken for the fledgling Greater London Council.
Val, Mick’s wife, increasingly worked alongside him as the business expanded. In 1974, the company owned about 13 coaches, and at that point Mick purchased the company that he originally worked for, Finchley Coaches, which considerably increased the size of the fleet. However, the two companies were run as separate entities until they were amalgamated in 2004, with a fresh O-Licence.
The backbone of Southgate and Finchley’s work is home-to-school transport for Haberdashers’ schools, which moved to Elstree in 1961, and the contracts were taken up by Finchley Coaches, where they have remained ever since. This is supplemented by private hire work which keeps the fleet busy.
Today the company is jointly run by brother and sister Peter Rice and Elaine Scrivens, who are the son and daughter of Mick and Val, and must be one of the few brother and sister teams running a coach company in the country. They are supported by a loyal team, including Elaine’s husband Keith, and many other close family members.
Their current base in Colney Hatch Lane, close to the North Circular Road, was obtained in 2000, and is well placed to serve the needs of the local community with easy access to most parts of London and the north.
The guest speaker at the evening anniversary event was Ian Jones from Backhouse Jones, who managed to draw a parallel with the release of the new Beatles single ‘Now and Then’ with the anniversary of the company and proceeded to weave at least 16 Beatles song titles into his talk – some with a degree of subtlety!
Southgate and Finchley Coaches is a member of both UKCOA and the Confederation of Passenger Transport, and Peter Rice serves as Finance Director on the Board of UKCOA, a role that he undertakes with much diligence.
Congratulations to Southgate and Finchley Coaches. From my own personal experience, it is one of the friendliest coach companies that I have the pleasure of dealing with, and takes its role of providing superb group transport to the community very seriously. Long may it continue to do so.
Some historical references were taken from Southgate and Finchley Coaches, 50 Years of Service 1963- 2013, prepared by the Friern Barnet and District Local History Society.