George Shillibeer
George Shillibeer was an English
English people
The English are a nation and ethnic group native to England, who speak English. The English identity is of early mediaeval origin, when they were known in Old English as the Anglecynn. England is now a country of the United Kingdom, and the majority of English people in England are British Citizens...

A coachbuilder is a manufacturer of bodies for carriages or automobiles.The trade dates back several centuries. Rippon was active in the time of Queen Elizabeth I, Barker founded in 1710 by an officer in Queen Anne's Guards, Brewster a relative newcomer , formed in 1810. Others in Britain included...


Shillibeer was born in St Marylebone, London the son of Abraham and Elizabeth Shillibeer. Christened in St Marys Church, Marylebone on 22 October 1797, Shillibeer worked for the coach company Hatchetts in Long Acre
Long Acre
Long Acre is a street in central London, England. Starting from St. Martin's Lane it runs from west to east just north of Covent Garden piazza, one block north of Floral Street. The street was completed in the early 17th century. It was once known for its coach-makers, and later for its car dealers...

, the coach-building district of the capital. In the 1820s he was offered work in Paris
Paris is the capital and largest city in France, situated on the river Seine, in northern France, at the heart of the Île-de-France region...

, France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

 where he was commissioned to build some unusually large horse-drawn coaches of "novel design". The aim was to design a coach capable of transporting a whole group of people, perhaps two dozen, at a time.

Shillibeer's design worked, and was very stable. It was introduced into the streets of Paris in 1827. Shortly afterwards, Shillibeer was commissioned to build another by the Newington Academy for Girls
Newington Academy for Girls
The Newington Academy for Girls, also known as Newington College for Girls, was a Quaker school established in 1824 in Stoke Newington, then north of London. In a time when girls' educational opportunities were limited, it offered a wide range of subjects "on a plan in degree differing from any...

, a Quaker school in Stoke Newington
Stoke Newington
Stoke Newington is a district in the London Borough of Hackney. It is north-east of Charing Cross.-Boundaries:In modern terms, Stoke Newington can be roughly defined by the N16 postcode area . Its southern boundary with Dalston is quite ill-defined too...

 near London; this had a total of twenty-five seats, and entered history as the first school bus
School bus
A school bus is a type of bus designed and manufactured for student transport: carrying children and teenagers to and from school and school events...

. In 1827 Joseph Pease, a railway pioneer and later the first Quaker MP, wrote in verse about the school bus:
The straight path of Truth the dear Girls keep their feet in,
And ah! it would do your heart good Cousin Anne,
To see them arriving at Gracechurch Street Meeting,
All snugly packed up, 25 in a van.

Whilst in Paris, Shillibeer concluded that operating similar vehicles in London, but for the fare-paying public with multiple stops, would be a paying enterprise, so he returned to his native city. His first London "Omnibus
A bus is a road vehicle designed to carry passengers. Buses can have a capacity as high as 300 passengers. The most common type of bus is the single-decker bus, with larger loads carried by double-decker buses and articulated buses, and smaller loads carried by midibuses and minibuses; coaches are...

" took up service on 4 July 1829 on the route between Paddington
Paddington is a district within the City of Westminster, in central London, England. Formerly a metropolitan borough, it was integrated with Westminster and Greater London in 1965...

 (The Yorkshire Stingo
Yorkshire Stingo
The Yorkshire Stingo was a public house in Marylebone, London which was a significant landmark outside central London in the eighteenth and 19th century....

) and "Bank" (Bank of England
Bank of England
The Bank of England is the central bank of the United Kingdom and the model on which most modern central banks have been based. Established in 1694, it is the second oldest central bank in the world...

) via the "New Road" (now Marylebone Rd
Marylebone Road
Marylebone Road is an important thoroughfare in central London, within the City of Westminster. It runs east-west from the Euston Road at Regent's Park to the A40 Westway at Paddington...

), Somers Town
Somers Town, London
Somers Town, was named for Charles Cocks, 1st Baron Somers. The area in St Pancras, London, was originally granted by William III to John Somers, Lord Chancellor and Baron Somers of Evesham. It was to be strongly influenced by the three mainline north London railway termini: Euston , St...

 and City Rd
City Road
City Road or The City Road is a road that runs through inner north and central London. The northwestern extremity of the road is at the Angel, Islington where it forms a continuation of Pentonville Road. Pentonville Road itself is the modern name for London's first bypass, the New Road from...

. Four services were provided in each direction daily. This service was described in the first advertisements as being "upon the Parisian mode" and that "a person of great respectability attended his vehicle as Conductor". An account of the new service was given in the Morning Post
Morning Post
The Morning Post, as the paper was named on its masthead, was a conservative daily newspaper published in London from 1772 to 1937, when it was acquired by The Daily Telegraph.- History :...

of 7 July 1829:

Saturday the new vehicle, called the Omnibus, commenced running from Paddington to the City, and excited considerable notice, both from the novel form of the carriage, and the elegance with which it is fitted out. It is capable of accommodating 16 or 18 persons, all inside, and we apprehend it would be almost impossible to make it overturn, owing to the great width of the carriage. It was drawn by three beautiful bay
Bay (color)
Bay is a hair coat color of horses, characterized by a reddish brown body color with a black mane, tail, ear edges, and lower legs. Bay is one of the most common coat colors in many horse breeds....

s abreast, after the French fashion. The Omnibus is a handsome machine, in the shape of a van. The width the horses occupy will render the vehicle rather inconvenient to be turned or driven through some of the streets of London.

A less successful innovation was his "Funeral Omnibus", which combined a passenger vehicle with a hearse.

George Shillibeer died at Brighton
Brighton is the major part of the city of Brighton and Hove in East Sussex, England on the south coast of Great Britain...

, East Sussex
East Sussex
East Sussex is a county in South East England. It is bordered by the counties of Kent, Surrey and West Sussex, and to the south by the English Channel.-History:...

 on 21 August 1866 (some sources say 22 August), and is buried in the church graveyard at Chigwell
Chigwell is a civil parish and town in the Epping Forest district of Essex. It is located 11.6 miles north east of Charing Cross. It is served by two London Underground stations and has a London area code.-Etymology:According to P. H...

 in Essex
Essex is a ceremonial and non-metropolitan county in the East region of England, and one of the home counties. It is located to the northeast of Greater London. It borders with Cambridgeshire and Suffolk to the north, Hertfordshire to the west, Kent to the South and London to the south west...


In 1979, the 150th anniversary of the commencement of the first omnibus service in London, a memorial service was held at the Chigwell Church attended by Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother
Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon
Elizabeth Angela Marguerite Bowes-Lyon was the queen consort of King George VI from 1936 until her husband's death in 1952, after which she was known as Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother, to avoid confusion with her daughter, Queen Elizabeth II...


Shillibeer Walk in Chigwell was named after him, and Shillibeer Place in Marylebone, as is a restaurant and pub next to a converted omnibus factory in north London.

External links

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