Essex has long been full of interest for followers of Britain’s bus industry. The western side of the county has always fallen under the influence of London, even to the extent that places like Romford, Upminster and Ilford were transferred into the newly created Greater London in 1974.
The dominant operator in Essex was Eastern National, which started life in London under the auspices of Thomas Clarkson in 1909. The company later became part of the Tilling Group, followed by the British Transport Commission, and then the National Bus Company. Eastern National fell into the hands of First Group after privatisation. There were lots of other operators in Essex. To the west, both London Transport and London Country were to be found. Eastern Counties, from that company’s vast empire in East Anglia, could be found around the border areas. There were also two municipal businesses, in Colchester and Southend-on-Sea. Sell-offs resulted in both becoming part of the Deutsche Bahn-owned Arriva.
Perhaps Essex is best known for its independent bus companies. Many have now gone, leaving just memories of operators such as Osborne’s, Norfolk’s and Went’s. Hedingham & District still exist, albeit now owned by the Go Ahead Group. Many new companies have since come along to run stage-carriage services in the county.
All this history and more is explored in Essex Buses. The author has been photographing public transport since he first visited Eastern England in the early seventies, and here presents us with a fine selection of images showcasing Essex’s bus scene over those years.
15 Feb 2017