Eastern National Omnibus Company
Eastern National Omnibus Company Ltd started in 1929 as a joint venture between the London and North Eastern Railway, the London, Midland and Scottish Railway and the National Omnibus & Transport Company. The National company had originated in 1909 as the National Steam Car Company, started to run steam bus services in London. The London services ceased in 1919, when the company was renamed National Omnibus and Transport Company. The company expanded outside London, first in Essex (1913), where the company bought the bus operations of the Great Eastern Railway around Chelmsford, and later in Bedfordshire (1919), Gloucestershire (1919), Somerset (1920), Dorset (1921) and Devon and Cornwall (1927). The National continued to expand in Essex, Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire.
The railways developed networks of feeder bus services in the 1920s, but the legal powers of the railway companies (after 1922 the Big Four) to run bus services were unclear and each promoted private legislation (the Road Powers Acts of 1928) to obtain clarity. One result was that the railways were in future to refrain from taking a controlling interest in bus undertakings. This led the companies to enter into partnerships with the bus companies, including the National. In 1929 the London and North Eastern Railway, the London, Midland and Scottish Railway and the National formed Eastern National Omnibus Company, to which all three shareholders transferred their bus operations in Essex, Hertfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Bedfordshire and Huntingdonshire.
In 1931 a controlling interest in the National Omnibus was acquired by the Tilling Group. From then on Eastern National was run as a Tilling company, although the railways retained their shares until 1948.
In 1948 the railways were nationalised, and shortly after, the Tilling Group sold its bus interests to the government. Eastern National therefore became a state-owned company, under the control of the British Transport Commission.
The new regime resulted in rationalisation of the company's area of operations. In 1952 the company's operations in Bedfordshire, Buckinghamshire, North Hertfordshire and Huntingdonshire were transferred to United Counties, and also in 1952 control of Westcliff Motor Services was transferred to Eastern National.
In 1964 it advertised the following Express Services:-
- X1 London - Rayleigh - Southend-on-sea
- X10 London - Basildon - Southend-on-sea
- X11 Enfield - Basildon - Southend-on-sea
- X12 London - Colchester - Clacton - Jaywick Sands
- X14 London - Braintree - Halstead - Sudbury .. Hadleigh, Sudbury, Bury St Edmunds
- X20 Southend - Basildon - Wrotham - Tonbridge - Tunbridge Wells - Brighton - Worthing
- X21 Southend - Basildon - Wrotham - Tonbridge - Tunbridge Wells - Hailsham - Eastbourne
- X22 Southend - Basildon - Rochester - Faversham, Canterbury - Dover and Folkestone
- X23 Southend - Basildon - Maidstone - Battle - Hastings - Eastbourne
- X24 Southend - Basildon - Sittingbourne - Faversham - Canterbury - Margate - Ramsgate
- X25 Southend - Basildon - Colchester - Lowestoft - Gorleston - Great Yarmouth
- X26 Southend - Basildon - Romford - Southampton - Bournemouth / Isle of Wight (using Red Funnel Steamer)
- X27 Southend - Colchester - Jaywick Sands, Clacton-on-sea - Holland-on-sea - Frinton-on-sea - Walton-on-naze
- X28 Southend - Chelmsford - Dunmow - Cambridge (connections to Midland Red for Northampton, Rugby, Coventry and Birmingham)
- X29 Southend - Basildon - Harlow - Hertford - Stamford - Oakham - Nottingham - Derby
- X30 Southsea - Portsmouth - Bognor-Regis - Crawley - Dartford - Basildon - Southend
- X32/X34 Clacton - Colchester - Chelmsford - Basildon - Sittingbourne, Faversham, Canterbury, Birchington, Margate .. Ramsgate - Dover - Folkestone
- X33 Walton - Clacton - Colchester - Chelmsford - Basildon - Dartford - Medway Towns - Maidstone - Hastings
- X40 Tilbury ferry- Basildon - Lowestoft - Gorlestone - Great Yarmouth
In 1980 the new Conservative government embarked on a programme of deregulation and privatisation of bus services. In 1986 Eastern National was sold to its management, who formed a new company, Eastern National Ltd.
Eastern National Ltd was acquired by Badgerline in 1990. Badgerline divided the company into two: Thamesway Buses in the south of Essex and Eastern National in the north. Both companies became part of First Bus, later First Group, formed when Badgerline merged with Grampian Regional Transport. First combined the two operations and renamed the company First Essex.
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