The General Managers were the guiding light of Coventry City Transport. During the whole of its history there were only four General Managers. Thomas Whitehead had started as General Manager of the Coventry Electric Tramway Company and continued as General Manager when Coventry Corporation took over the undertaking in 1912. In 1933 he retired and was superseded by Ronald Fearnley, who became the visionary for post-war bus services in Coventry. Between the two of them, they ran Coventry Corporation Transport for fifty of its sixty two years.
Thomas Whitehead was born in 1868, the son of a Leeds chemist. While at Leeds he was involved in establishing the first electric tramway in the country. On joining Coventry Electric Tramways Limited in 1896, he oversaw the electrification of the Coventry system. He retained his position as General Manager at the Corporation takeover in 1912 until his retirement in 1933. Thereafter he moved to Scarborough and died there in 1945.
Ronald Fearnley was born in 1899 in Bradford. He was the eldest son of Arthur Robinson Fearnley, who became General Manager of Sheffield Corporation Transport between 1906 and 1934. Taking after his father, Ronald became manager at Keighley Tramways and later Southend-on-Sea Corporation, before moving to Coventry in 1933. He became a pioneer in the transport industry, and worked closely with the local company Daimler in the development of an advanced lightweight bus with 60 seats yet within the maximum length and weight regulations of the time. In 1956 he became President of the Passenger Transport Association (now known as the Confederation of Passenger Transport), a post that his father had previously held from 1911. Ronald retired in 1962 and continued to live in Warwickshire until his death in 1979. In 2008, Giles Fearnley, the third generation of the Fearnley family, became president of the Confederation of Passenger Transport. Ronald Fearnley's daughter, Jillian Gould, has a musical box which was presented to her father by the 5/42 TGWU after he completed 25 years at Coventry. She has written "I know he valued this appreciation of the good relations he had had with them".
Noel McDonald came from Warrington Corporation Transport in 1962. He resigned in 1969 and went to Sheffield Corporation, the original home of Ronald Fearnley and the place where Ronald's father, Arthur Robinson Fearnley, served as General Manager.
Derek L. Hyde came to Coventry Corproration Transport in 1969, previously having been with Barrow-in-Furness Transport. He retained the position at Coventry until the WMPTE takeover in 1974.
Photograph of T R Whitehead: Commemorative Brochure, Coventry Transport 1912 - 1974, City of Coventry Transport Committee (1974)
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Photograph of Ronald Fearnley: Commemorative Brochure, Coventry Transport 1912 - 1974, City of Coventry Transport Committee (1974)
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Photograph of Noel McDonald: Commemorative Brochure, Coventry Transport 1912 - 1974, City of Coventry Transport Committee (1974)
Original citation Coventry Evening Telegraph
Photograph of Derek Hyde: Commemorative Brochure, Coventry Transport 1912 - 1974, City of Coventry Transport Committee (1974)
Original citation T W Moore