John Bodman only found out that Hatts Travel – the firm which owns Bodman Coaches – was to close three days before staff were told.
Hatts called in administrators last Thursday, leaving 89 people without jobs and up to 1,000 people without holidays they had paid for.
Mr Bodman, 62, of High Street, Worton, whose grandfather started Bodman’s in 1922 with one bus, said: “I got a phone call on Tuesday. I had no idea it was coming. It was a complete shock to me.”
Hatts Travel announced to staff on Friday that the firm based at Foxham, near Chippenham, was to close with the loss of 89 jobs and disruption for thousands of people who had made bookings.
Hatts took over Bodman Coaches in March 2008. No money changed hands but Hatts boss Adrian Hillier took over all 35 Bodman vehicles, staff of around 40 and the company’s debts.
Mr Bodman rented out his yard to Mr Hillier and it remained as a depot.
He is now waiting to see if he will be financially liable for any of the debts left by Hatts Travel, which has appointed restructuring specialists FRP Advisory as administrators.
Mr Bodman said: “I have been a sleeping partner. I have had nothing to do with the running of the business since the take-over.
“It is extremely sad this has happened and I feel very sorry for all of the people who have lost their jobs. I had no idea this was going to happen.
“The bus and coach business is not an easy one to be in these days. There is so much red tape. I was glad when the offer came in for the business.
“In the last few years that I was running it I was spending more time doing book work than I was driving.”
FRP Advisory posted a notice on the Hatts Travel website saying the companies put in administration include Adrian Charles Hillier and Charles John Bodman trading as C Bodman & Sons, Bodmans, Bodman(s) Coaches, Wiltshire Buses and The Bodman(s) Partnership.
Mr Bodman met his solicitor on Tuesday. He said: “It didn’t go well. I am now even more worried that I could be liable financially.
“We are just going to have wait and see what happens. It wasn’t re-assuring.”