Saturday, January 30, 2010

New England Motor Company - Lismore

Nemco buses

Over time, I have carried a fair number of posts dealing with New England Airways.

In those posts I picked up references to George A Robinson's motor transport interests. However, I had no idea until I finally read Joan Priest's Virtue in Flying, a biography of pioneer aviator Keith Virtue (Angus & Robertson, Sydney 1975) just how important those transport interests were.

This photo shows two of the buses belonging to Robinson's Lismore based New England Motor Company.

It's not a good reproduction, but it does give you a feel for the time.

NEMCO was a pretty big operation, big enough to provide not just financial support to the unsubsidised New England Airways, but also core technical and logistical support.

Both were critical. NEA was the only major unsubsidised airline, while it began at a time when you had to be able to maintain and sometimes rebuild your planes by yourself independent of outside support. Damage from hard landings had to be fixed, while the engines themselves could be very cranky.

Mechanical knowledge was therefore critical. Here NEMCO's need to maintain its own buses meant that it had the mechanical skills to support the airline and especially in the critical early days before NEA got big enough to establish its own service facilities.

According to scuba on the Bus AustraliaNEW ENGLAND MOTOR CO LISMORE NSW WHITE MO-7390 web site, the first bus in the top picture, the WA 20 White was built by NEMCO in their own garage. I wonder how many current Australian bus lines could actually build a bus?

The second colour photo shows another variant photographed in Kirklands Garage several years after their purchase of NEMCO.

Scuba also reports that the Ranger, the second bus in the top photo, was one of a pair built by Athol Hedges in Northgate (Brisbane). These were purchased for the Lismore - Tenterfield run, but were also used on the Lismore - Brisbane run in later years until the sale of the company in 1970.

The next photo is a more modern photo of one of the Rangers.

The roads these buses travelled along could be quite dreadful, clouds of dust when dry, clinging mud when wet.NEW ENGLAND MOTOR CO LISMORE NSW AEC RANGER MO-347

Now I have discovered just how important the New England Motor Company was, I am keen to learn more. 

Here I discovered from scuba that there is a history of NEMCO - Kevin R Kirkland, comp, Life’s a journey: the Kirkland and New England Motor Company story. Lismore, the author, 1999.

There are two copies in the Lismore Historical Society collection. A trip to Lismore? 


Motor Staff said...

Hi Jim,

Have you spoken with Lyndon Hardman at Hardman's of Armidale?

He has a large collection of historic cars and is a wealth of knowledge about motoring in New England.

Jim Belshaw said...

That's a great idea, MT. I haven't spoken to Lyndon; I should. I am going to Armidale to deliver a paper at the start of April, and will see if I can see him them.

Bumpy Lane said...

Hi guys just found this site/imfo. I lived in Lismore till 1964 and actually went to school with a George Robinson. I think he was George Jnr as I am now only 60. I do know he was related to the Butler Air ways/new Englane MC family as he gave me metal pic/photos of planes and we often to look at the buses. My Dad actually drove the Sat. night movie bus in Lismore.

Jim Belshaw said...

How fascinating, Bumpy Lane. It's a small world! said...

You can now purchase a copy of Lifes a Journey Booklet. The story of Kirklands Omnibus Services and the New England Motor Company. Go to Ebay or


Bumpy Lane said...

Someone may know of a man Ray Robinson who drove for New England. HE mostly did Brisbane run. He lived on the road on outskirts of Lismore on the road going towards Richmond hill.