Sidney Garcke

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Sidney Garcke (born January 6, 1885 in Shepherd's Bush , † October 3, 1948 in Hove ) was a British manager. He became known in Great Britain as a pioneer in the omnibus industry.


Sidney Garcke was the son of Emile Garcke and Alice Withers. He studied engineering at the University of London. In 1908 he married Clare Lorrain, the daughter of an engineer. They had a son, Kenneth, born in 1909, and a daughter, Elizabeth, born in 1913.

Worked in the bus industry at British Electric Traction Company Limited (BET)

In 1906 he started working for Birmingham & Midland Motor Omnibus Co., a subsidiary of the British Electrical Traction Company Limited (BET). His father Emile Garcke founded this society. The bus routes operated in the West Midlands complemented the BET tram routes. At that time, however, the motorized buses were to be stopped and the wagons pulled by horses. Sidney insisted that six of the nine buses that were no longer needed be relocated to Kent, where, because of the flat terrain, the then fragile vehicles could be better used. An omnibus liner service was set up there, which began operations in 1908 under the Deal & District Motor Services company. Sidney himself drove one of the buses from Birmingham to Deal.

As early as 1901, BET had used two steam-powered buses to supplement a tram line near Stoke-on-Trent. The buses were soon sold again. As the reliability of bus designs increased, it became economically more interesting to establish bus routes. In 1912, BET founded the subsidiary British Automobile Traction Co. Since it was not possible to expand to London due to an agreement made with the London General Omnibus Co. in 1912/1913, bus companies increasingly turned to the surrounding area. From 1913 onwards, BET founded several bus companies or acquired shares in them. However, during the First World War it was difficult to operate bus routes. New lines could not be set up at all because no fuel was made available for them.

Sidney commanded the Berkshire Royal Army Service Corps (RASC; MT - Mechanical Transport) during the First World War. He was a major.

Based on the London Area Agreement of 1912/1913, the bus companies tried to stabilize their bus networks in the other areas by concluding area agreements. Sidney was the architect of these agreements, in which the neighboring companies established their territories and rules for cross-border passenger traffic. Due to the weight of the company he represented, Sidney made an important contribution to the development of the British bus industry. Since the Road Traffic Act of 1924 also supported such agreements, they brought stability to the private bus industry for about 50 years. Only the nationalization of the bus regional companies by the Labor majority in the British Parliament from 1947 put an end to this development.

Sidney was also instrumental in the negotiations between the railroad companies and BET in the late 1920s, which resulted in the fields of activity on both sides becoming better coordinated. In this context, the railway companies took over about half of the shares in the majority of the BET bus companies.

Sidney became a director on the BET board in 1928 and remained there even when his father left in 1929. He was CEO of various subsidiaries.

Together with Thomas Tilling, another large bus company, BET bus interests were reorganized in 1928 and merged into a joint company Tilling & British Automobile Traction Ltd. brought in, with Sydney chairing the board.

In Sydney's foreword to the book The first passenger railway. The Oystermouth or Swansea & Mumbles Line, 1942, told Sidney that it was his rather melancholy task to get rid of the tram lines that his father proudly set up using electric drives 37 years ago. This statement applied to many other BET lines.

Activity as an engineer

As the CEO at Tilling & British Automobile Traction Ltd. from 1936 alternately provided by the two parent companies and the joint company was even dissolved in 1942, Sidney turned back to engineering and in 1943 joined the board of Dennis Brothers, which manufactured buses and wagons. In 1945 he became chairman of the board. Sidney remained CEO of various BET companies such as B. Electrical Press. Until 1946 he remained a member of the BET executive committee (board) as director.

During the Second World War, Sidney advised the government as a member of various technical committees.

Sidney Garcke died on October 3, 1948 in Howe near Brighton. The Times wrote: Pioneer for rural buses. No man did more to change the social habits of small-town and village life than Mr. Sidney Garcke (Pioneer of provincial buses. No man did more to change the social habits of small-town and village life than Mr. Sidney Garcke) .

Inter-company activity

Sidney published the two annual manuals founded by his father on the electricity industry and on automobile transportation.

In 1942 he was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire for his services to the development of the bus industry. He was a member of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers and a member and president of the Institute of Transport.

In the 1929 general election, Sidney Garcke ran unsuccessfully as a Conservative Party candidate for the seat of Kingswinford District in Staffordshire.


  • Who was who, 1941–1950, London
  • Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. In association with the British Academy, edited by HCG Matthew and Brian Harrison, New York 2004, Vol. 21
  • Garcke, Klaus, History of the Garcke Family, Insingen 2018 (German Family Archives, Vol. 161), pp. 163–166

Individual evidence

  1. Klapper, Charles, The golden age of buses, London Henley Boston 1978, pp. 124-125
  2. As before pp. 50, 51
  3. ^ Author: Lee, Charles E., London
  4. ^ Fulford, Roger, The Sixth Decade 1946-1956, British Electric Traction Co. Ltd., London 1956, pp. 1, 4
  5. The Times October 7, 1948