Southend Corporation Transport
Co-Ordination 1954-55
This page has been adapted from Richard Delahoy's book, Southend Corporation Transport, Trams, Trackless and Buses. Copyright Richard Delahoy 1986.
This short history is split into five parts, Trams 1900-42, Early Buses 1914-16,
Trolleybuses 1925-54, Buses 1932-1953 and Co-Ordination 1954-55
T he various attempts in the thirties and forties to provide an integrated transport service for not only Southend but the whole of that corner of south east Essex are covered on another page. Before seeing how that ideal was finally achieved, it is perhaps worth reviewing the position after the war.
F irstly there was the Corporation, with its trolleybus and bus routes, serving mainly the older districts of Southend. Despite its' local name, Westcliff Sea Motor Services provided the majority of the services in all of south east Essex, serving those parts of Southend not covered by the Corporation, the surrounding districts such as Hadleigh, Benfleet, Rayleigh, Rochford and Wakering, and with interurban routes to Grays and Romford. To Benfleet they worked alongside Benfleet & District, owned by the Bridge family along with Canvey & District, who provided services on that island. The Brentwood based City Coach Company's long route from Kentish Town and Wood Green terminated in Southend at Tylers Avenue and provided an important local service as well as catering for the day tripper from north London. Eastern National (like WMS, part of the Tilling Group) operated some longer distance stage services to Grays, Chelmsford and Clacton. Finally, but not really part of the present story, the two railway lines carried a significant amount of local traffic.
T he near agreement of 1945/6 was killed by the opposition of City and the Bridge companies but the post-war nationalisation of part of the road transport industry was soon to change things. WMS and EN came under state ownership in 1948. In 1951 the Bridge family sold out to the British Transport Commission and City followed suit in 1952. These companies were placed under Westcliff's control and in turn WMS came under EN (partly in compensation for the transfer of EN's Midland area to United Counties). Talks could now proceed between EN, WMS and Southend about a comprehensive co-ordination scheme embracing all local services. In 1953 it was agreed to establish an area of roughly 96 square miles, bounded by Canvey, Rettendon and the River Crouch, within which EN/WMS would operate 63% of the mileage and Southend the remainder. All routes would be jointly licensed and revenue pooled (then being split in the 63/37 ratio), with each side meeting their own expenses.
T he last major obstacle was the Council, who had to ratify the action of the Transport Committee in negotiating this agreement. The Council met on October 6th, 1953 in a long and heated session behind closed doors and eventually the plan was approved only by the casting vote of the Mayor, Alderman Selby (who, it will be recalled, had been Chairman of the Transport Committee)! It is perhaps understandable that there was so much debate, for the agreement was to completely change the character of the transport undertaking for good.
T he co-ordination agreement became effective on January 2nd, 1955 (the day after the assets of WMS had been transferred to ENOC), services being marketed as 'Southend & District Joint Services' thereafter. The most obvious initial change was a major switch in route workings. The former company routes included a high proportion of more rural routes with faster average speeds (and therefore lower running costs) than the Corporation town services, upsetting the financial balance. Thus Southend took over operation of the 1, 7, 8, 8A (to Rayleigh), 4, 4A, 5 (Wakering & Shoebury) and 9, 9A (Eastwoodbury) but gave up the 51, 61, 61A, 61B, 61C, 62, 64 & 68 and part of the 25 group. As a result, blue and cream buses were soon to become a familiar sight well beyond the town boundary. It was not until May 28th 1955 that the benefits of co-ordination were to become obvious to most passengers, when the first stage in linking short company and Corporation services into longer cross-town routes came into effect and a few services were also renumbered to avoid duplication.
T he transition to co-ordination was initially to prove very expensive for the Council. The trolleybus overhead and supply system had to be dismantled and many new buses obtained. Two major but less obvious expenses were also incurred. Southend had previously used TIM ticket machines but these could not cope with the higher fare values of the longer services they would now be operating such as the 7, Southend to Rayleigh. SCT had therefore to buy 150 Setright Speed machines which in those days cost 51 5s each or a total of 7,110 after discount.
D estination displays proved to be the other big problem. The old type of single blind could not cope with all the permutations of the 50 odd different routes which a bus could now be called upon to work and so a new three part display consisting of route number, ultimate destination and three lines of passing points was devised. The 1954 Massey bodies were built with this equipment from new but the rest of the fleet had to be re-equipped. The new winding gear and blinds cost 3,139/12/6, so that together with the Setrights, a one off expenditure of nearly 10,500 was incurred. By way of comparison, the new Leyland Massey deckers bought in 1954 cost about 4,000 each while for an ex-London Daimler such as 269, Southend had to pay 1,975 for the body and the second-hand chassis was only 350 (plus overhaul cost estimated at 500).

Click for full size photo Many thanks to Richard Delahoy for his kind permission to include textual extracts from his book in this site.

©1986-2007 Richard Delahoy and ©1961-2007 SCT61 Pages. All Rights Reserved.

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