In the thread "Massey Bodies with Independents" there is a photograph of an ex-Moores Arab leaving Colchester Bus Station, which seems to be as I remember it from a visit in 1984 - with a multi-storey car-park above. I visited Colchester last month: the bus deposited me at what now passes for Colchester's bus station (a few road-side stops), but when I went to look for the "now closed" bus station that appeared to have been a few open stands by the ENOC/First depot, with no sign of any multi-storey car park. Can somebody enlighten me here? - where was the bus station pictured on this site, and when was it re-sited by the ENOC/First depot? The ex-Moores Arab shot can be seen at this link.
19/05/13 - 17:48
I don't know when Colchester went underground, but this is a shot of Colchester Bus Station as I remember it in September 1969. Sadly, from the 1960s, it became expedient to shove bus interchanges into the dismal bowels of multi storey car parks, leaving public transport passengers in no doubt as to their lowly status in the pecking order of a car obsessed society. Here, mercifully in the open air, is Chambers of Bures Guy Arab III ECF 756. Can anyone confirm the maker of the lowbridge body? I have seen it described as a Crossley, but it appears to have some Roe characteristics to me. The Eastern National Lodekka behind it is No. 1599, 175 XNO, an FLF6G of 1961.
19/05/13 - 17:55
I can well understand Philip Rushworth's confusion over the late lamented Colchester Bus Station as the site has changed somewhat since his 1984 visit.
Opened in the early 1960s as the Lewis Gardens Bus Station, it originally comprised an open air bus station with a cafe/ toilet/ enquiry office block.
Erection of the multi-storey car park over the bus stands was underway when the photo of the ex Moores Guy was taken. Unfortunately, like a number of buildings from this era, the concrete used was too alkaline resulting in corrosion of the reinforcing rods. This led to its demolition in the mid 90s, the bus station becoming open air again.
In recent years Colchester council decided to build an "arts facility" on the top half of the site. This was, and remains, very controversial, "well designed", "on budget" and "on time" are not words often heard in this connection. The buses were then squeezed in to the bottom third of the site which is the area that Philip saw on his recent visit. This was replaced on November 18th 2012 by the new facilities described by Philip as a few road side stops but which according to the Council is the new £2 million bus station. It's fair to say that the Councils description is contested by quite a lot of people.
Reverting to happier times I started thinking about the operators using the the Bus Station in the late 60s/ early 70s. Off the top of my head, the following come to mind-
H. C. Chambers & Son Ltd
Hedingham & District (D.R. & M.M. MacGregor)
W. Norfolk & Sons
G. W. Osborne & Sons
Rules Coaches Ltd
Vines Luxury Coaches Ltd
The following also appeared on express work-
Belle Coaches (B.R. Shreeve & Son Ltd)
Empires Best (C.W. Banfield)
Grey-Green (George Ewer & Co. Ltd)
Maidstone & District Motor Services
Norfolk Motor Services
Southdown Motor Services
Suttons Crossley Coaches
Yelloway Motor Services
You can see why I always made a beeline for the Bus Station when we visited Colchester in those days.
20/05/13 - 07:20
Roger was right to think ECF 756 had a Crossley body, but I am not surprised at his uncertainty as I thought Roe until he suggested Crossley.
It was in fact the last Crossley lowbridge body built and the previous ones were nearly two years earlier. They were for Reading and the side of this is reminiscent of that body style, but they were 8 feet wide whereas I'm sure this is only 7'-6" wide.
Crossley didn't build that many lowbridge bodies postwar, the only fleets to take them were Chesterfield, Luton and Plymouth, plus the Reading and Chambers bodies already discussed. Chambers was one of the mere handful of independents to buy Crossley bodies. Only seventeen Crossley bodies were supplied to independents in the period from 1946 to 1958, with an addition of three demonstrators that ended up with independents. Quite a lot were exported, particularly in ACV days. Crossley was very much a coachbuilder to the municipalities.
20/05/13 - 07:21
Thanks, Roger and Nigel (and anybody who may subsequently contribute). So the recent bus station was where I thought it had been (I can sleep once more) - just much reduced in size, and de-car-parked. But £2 million! for a couple of bus shelters, a waiting room, and a (pay-to use) lavatory for customers [sic] . . . it reads as though Colchester council got the bloke who quoted for tarmacademing my front drive to do the job - I saw through him, they clearly didn't. £2 million??? I'm back in Colchester next week, so I'll make sure that I enjoy this luxury facility to the full - perhaps the urinals are marble, or the bus stop poles platinum. How much do you think was splashed-out on the concrete shelters in Roger's photo? which no doubt kept passengers [sic] dry enough. Sorry, I seem to be channelling Chris Youhill here.
At least Chambers (and Hedingham, Cedrics, and New Horizon) keep some independent interest going amongst a sea of First lilac: but how did CBT come to be so diminished as to become what is Network Colchester? - it is supposed to be easier for a town operator to expand outwards (Reading, Strathclyde, Lothian) by slipping a couple of extra buses into a schedule then it is for the country operator to compete within town (which requires new routes or deviations of out-of-town routes), but First seem to have gained the upper-hand here.
23/05/13 - 11:01
One more to add to David's list of postwar lowbridge Crossley body customers is Mainwaring Bros of Bignall End, Staffordshire. They had two (RRF 485 and SRE 563) plus highbridge variant TRE 23. All three Crossley 'deckers passed to PMT in 1951 and were frequently to be found on the Stafford service until withdrawn in 1960.
Comments regarding the above are more than welcome please get in touch via the 'Contact Page' or by email at
Old Bus Photos from Saturday 25th April 2009 to Tuesday 30th September 2014