My father Don Prentice had worked for Ian Glass for many years when his employer sold the business. Keen to continue working in a family run business with community values, we purchased our first vehicle (pic 1) in 1991, and Don Prentice Coaches was born.
On June 1st 1991, we carried our first passengers a group on a leisure trip to Blackpool.
In August 1991, children from Garvald boarded our coach to travel to Yester Primary School in Gifford, with our first school transport route contract. We still operate this route 28 years on as well as a number of school routes throughout Edinburgh and East Lothian.
Our first new coach was an exciting moment. It was a Mercedes 711D 28 seater (pic 2.)
When we started in 1991 we were kindly given parking space and access to his workshops by local haulage contractor Finlay Guy. Then, in the summer of 1993, we moved to larger premises in Hospital Road, Haddington, where we still currently operate. Initially, we rented the premises from Post Office Property Holdings, before becoming proud owners of the site some years later.
1994 meant further school contracts being won and we became the sole operator for Yester Primary, and have been ever since.
With the arrival, in 1997, of R23 GSC a Volvo B6LE (pic 5) the "Gifford Circle" was the first route in Scotland to be run 100% with a low floor fully wheelchair accessible vehicle.
On the 1st August 1998, following further contract gains and a ten year age limit on vehicles by East Lothian Council, we put two new vehicles into service on the same day (pic6) - A 53 seat Dennis Javelin / Plaxton Premiere & a 33 seat Mercedes 814D Vario / Mellor. These were significant vehicles in that they were the first of, at the present time, 17 new Plaxton bodies & 18 new Mercedes Vario's, our most popular chassis.
In March 2001 we bought the first production model of the new Dennis/Plaxton R Series coach, it was registered Y10 DPC (pic 10) celebrate our 10th Anniversary. This coach was instrumental in our winning a contract to be the official supplier to the Scottish Parliament.
We were awarded the "121 Haddington - North Berwick" service in May 2001, which we ran until 1994, and bought two new Mercedes Vario's with Plaxton Beaver bodies (pic 11) registered Y556 & Y557 KSC on 1st August 2001.
Also in 2001 we bought our first wheelchair accessible coach, a Volvo B10M with Van Hool body (pic 12) which we had converted for us by Plaxton at Barrhead in Glasgow. We bought our first, of seven, new Mercedes Vario / Plaxton Cheetah's in 2002 (pic 13)
After running many Volvo B10M chassis we bought the first of it's successor, the B12M, in 2006. Built specifically to our specification as a mobility coach with up to 3 wheelchair spaces.(pic 17)
We were one of the initial customers for the new Plaxton Cheetah 2 in 2007, ours being the first 33 seat model built.
We returned to bus service work in 2012, after losing contracts the previous year, and bought our first, of 8 at present, Alexander Dennis Enviro 200's. The bus dedicated to the 121 Haddington to North Berwick route, SN12 EHL, carried a special livery to promote attractions along the route, earning it the nickname 'Supersonic Gannet' (pic 21). Later that year we won 'Medium sized Coach Operator of the Year'at the 2012 Route One Operator Excellence Awards. In 2013 we won for an unprecidented second year in a row this time 'Small Fleet - Coach Operator of the Year' after category sizes were changed (pic 23). One week later we collected SS63 PCH the first of the new Plaxton Leopard's to take to the road.(pic 24)
More photos of our fleet from over the years can be found on our Flickr page
Over the years we have earned a reputation for providing our customers with the very latest coaches, presented in immaculate condition, with friendly, knowledgeable and skilled drivers.
All this, and outstanding levels of customer satisfaction, has led to Prentice Coaches being recognised as one of the leading coach operators in the country.
We are proud to have grown Prentice Coaches and earned the loyalty of so many prestigious customers. And we pledge to remain committed to providing you with our high quality vehicles and service for many years to come.
Here are some photos of significant / unusual coaches we have owned.