Southend Corporation Bus Fleet
Daimler CWA6 bought from Eastern National in 1955.
To meet the continued demand for buses, Southend acquired a further seven secondhand Daimler CWA6's in June 1955 from their neighbour, Eastern National. The buses had reached the EN fleet from Westcliff, who had in turn acquired them with the takeover of the Benfleet and Canvey companies.
The Benfleet and Canvey fleets had boasted a total of no less than 24 utility Daimlers. Ten had been allocated by the Ministry of Supply to the companies in 1944/5, a large number for an independent but reflecting the importance of the very busy Southend to Benfleet service 3, which ran every 30 minutes and saw frequent duplication (Westcliff also ran a similar frequency, co-ordinated with the Benfleet timings to give a quarter hour headway), The other 14 Daimlers were acquired in 1949/50 from Birmingham Corporation. Of the 24 Daimlers, three had been withdrawn before the Westcliff takeover, but the other 21, some of which had never entered service with Benfleet/Canvey, were allocated the numbers 1195-1215 in the EN series upon the full integration of the Westcliff fleet into EN. The former Canvey depot is now the Castle Point Transport Museum.
The seven Daimlers bought by Southend had been new in 1943-5 and consequently the 56 seat highbridge bodies (by Park Royal, 242/3/7 or Duple, 244-6) were to utility standards. Apart from 246, all had started life with Birmingham City Transport before passing to Benfleet & District (FOP 417/452/462) or Canvey and District (FOP 340/429) in 1949 or 1950. 247 was originally a CWG5 but at some stage received an AEC engine 7.7 litre engine.
Six of the buses entered service with Southend in July 1955 numbered 242-7. The seventh, FOP 416, was not operated but instead its Park Royal body was transferred to the chassis of 247, whose original Duple body was in poor condition; the discarded body and chassis were later broken up.They were employed on town services in 1955 but were mostly taken out of service when more new buses were delivered early in 1956.
243 in original condition
244-7 were then taken into the works and were converted to open toppers; 242 was similarly altered in 1957 but 243 was withdrawn and sold the same year. The open top conversions allowed Southend to operate their share of the erstwhile Westcliff sea front services from Leigh to the Kursaal, which were revised and extended in the summer of 1955 to run from Leigh through to Shoebury or Temple Sutton (the latter incorporating the former Corporation 68).
When first converted to open top the buses seated 56 and had a very low front to the top deck, but later windscreens were added to protect passengers, an extra 3 seats added upstairs and the downstairs windows replaced. The wooden slatted seats however remained until the demise of the Daimlers in 1970 (and were then transferred to the next generation of open tops!).
The five open toppers lasted until 1970, although with variable reliability in the last few years. 242 and 245-7 went for scrap in early 1971 but 244 was saved, initially by the Beamish Museum in County Durham, but it has since returned to its old home, in the care of the Castle Point Transport Museum.
The following photos show 244 at the museum open day in October 1999.
Many thanks to Richard Delahoy for his kind permission to include extracts from his book in this page and also to Richard, Brian Pask, John Kaye, Paul Harrison, Paul Bateson, Ian Banks and Doug Nicholson for supplying pictures.