Bristol Omnibus Company

The Bristol Omnibus Company is the former name of Bristol's dominant bus operator, one of the oldest bus companies in the United Kingdom.

The company originated in 1875, when the Bristol Tramways Company formed to begin a horse-tram service. In 1887 this merged with the Bristol Cab Company to form Bristol Tramways & Carriage Company Ltd.

Following the addition of buses to its network at the beginning of the 20th century, and the subsequent decision to start manufacturing its own buses, the company and its network rapidly expanded in and around Bristol.

In 1957, 16 years after its last trams ceased operation, the company changed its name to the more befitting Bristol Omnibus Company Ltd. Its growth persisted, and during the 1950s and 60s the company monopolised bus operations in Bristol and across much of Gloucestershire, Somerset, Wiltshire and neighbouring counties. Until 1983, Bristol buses were used extensively across the UK and were also exported to many countries.

In 1963 the Bristol Omnibus Company implemented a colour bar, denying employment to black drivers and conductors. The public's reaction to this was the Bristol Bus Boycott, which, after a bitter campaign, caused the company to finally back down and employ black and Asian crews. This 60-day boycott attracted national attention influenced the creation of the UK's Race Relations Act in 1965.

Since its privatisation in 1983 the company has undergone numerous changes and rebrandings, most recently emerging as First Somerset & Avon Ltd in 2003. This company, which remains the same legal entity incorporated in 1887, is still the dominant bus operator in Bristol, and also runs buses in Bath and Somerset.