Laindon and District early bus service

Laindon and District early bus service.

Frederick Hinton and his brother Sidney have been credited with establishing Laindon’s first motorised bus service, ‘Laindon and District Motor Services’. They started with a bus converted from a lorry which they painted blue. About 1921 they acquired two former London General ‘B’ type open top double deckers and a light grey and yellow livery was adopted.

The main route was a daily circular from Laindon Station to the Wash and Pipps Hill area supplemented by market day services to Wickford (Mondays), Romford (Wednesday) and Chelmsford (Fridays) and a service to Billericay Hospital on visiting days (Wednesday and Saturdays). A Saturday service to Brentwood was added later. It was not unusual to see one of Hinton’s buses struggling into Brentwood with up to eighty passengers on board, occupying all available space including the stairs, the driver’s canopy and even the front wings, a sight not to be missed in the early 1920s.

Hinton’s services were replaced by Tom Webster (Old Tom Motor Services) about 1926, though no vehicles appear to have changed hands.

Tom Webster of Manor Road , Laindon started business in 1921 with a couple of Ford ‘T’ bus-cum-lorries, so for several years they were in competition. Expansion came in 1926 with the purchase of four Chevrolets and these were followed in 1927 and 1928 by three Reo Sprinters. The enlarged fleet enabled Hinton’s services to be absorbed.

Old Tom smaller vehicles were more suitable for the narrow local roads than Hinton’s buses and they were able to set up a comprehensive network of services around the Laindon and surrounding area.

When road service licensing was introduced in 1931 Essex County Council objected to Old Tom’s use of the light wooded bridge in Wash Road constructed for horse traffic and the narrow Pound Lane by the former Hinton service between Laindon Service and Pipps Hill. The Council claimed that Pound Lane was as narrow as nine feet in one place. Webster stated that he only used the bridge when it was impossible, owing to floods, to follow the usual route. The Chairman of the Commissioners ruled that they would require a request to place a route restriction in writing and that, if the bridge was not used, the inconvenience of the public would rest on the shoulders of Essex County Council.  For Webster it was stated that the service had been running for ten years and consisted of six buses. On weekdays all the trains were met from 5.56 am until 11.30pm and trains were also met on Sundays. The service operated ‘hand-in-hand’ with the Railway Company and the buses were allowed sole rights in the station yard. The district through which the route ran was developing.

Webster also met with opposition from A.H.Clark & W.H.Malden (Brentwood and District Motor Services), The Westcliff-on-Sea Motor Services and Eastern National when he applied to continue his service between Laindon and Brentwood via Billericay. For Webster it was stated that the service had been introduced in February 1926 and that between October 1930 and October 1931 63,684 passengers had been carried. Webster junior said that the service always ran on time except when the trains were late. They were under contract with the Railway Company to meet the trains. The opposition was on the grounds that the route was already well served.

Licences were eventually granted to Old Tom for the following services:

  1. Laindon Station – Basildon (local circular) via New Fortune, Old Fortune, Wash Road, Pipps Hill, Stevens Corner, Basildon Road and New Fortune. Daily with five vehicle allowance and a stipulation that Pound Lane and the Timber Bridge in Wash Road were not to be used.
  2. Laindon Station – Brentwood, Yorkshire Grey via Great Burstead or Little Burstead and Billericay – daily.
  3. Laindon Station – Romford via Dunton, Bulphan, Herongate and Brentwood. Daily (service terminated at Brentwood, Yorkshire Grey except for an early Saturday evening journey extended to and from Romford).
  4. Laindon – Romford Market via Dunton and Bulphan Fen. Wednesdays.
  5. Laindon – Wickford Market via Stevens Corner, Basildon and Nevendon. Mondays with three vehicle allowance in summer and two vehicle allowance in winter.
  6. Laindon – London, Liverpool Street (later Mansell Street) via Romford, Barking and East Ham. Early Sunday morning journey before the first train with two vehicle allowance, primarily for Dock Workers.

A Licence was also obtained for excursions and tours from Laindon to Maldon and Clacton during the summer, picking up at Billericay.

In September 1932 the route via Little Burstead on the No. 2 route was discontinued and left to Brentwood & District Motor Services, all journeys now running via Great Burstead. At the end of 1932 the Monday to Friday and Saturday morning services on No. 3 route were curtailed at Bulphan, connecting there with Nugus Saloon Coaches for Herongate and Brentwood . The Westcliff-on-Sea Motor Services alleged in a later public sitting of the Traffic Commissioners that Old Tom had operated illegally beyond Stevens Corner via Rectory Road , Basildon instead of following the licensed circular route for the local service. Journeys on this service had earlier, probably before licensing, diverted off the circular route to serve Crays Hill.

In May 1936 Tom Webster sold out to the City Coach Company for a reputed £8,000. Excursions and the other coaching activities did not fit in with the City business, so the excursions licence was transferred to Betts Blane Ltd (Gidea Park Coaches) of Romford. R.M. (Dick) Webster, Tom’s son, who had managed Old Tom Services since 1931, transferred with the business to Gidea Park Coaches whilst Tom Webster junior set himself up as a nurseryman in Wash Road, Laindon.

The services were numbered by City as follows:

5. Laindon – Brentwood via Billericay

6. Laindon – Local Service

7. Laindon – Brentwood via Bulphan

8. Laindon – Romford Market

9. Laindon – Wickford Market

10. Laindon – London.

Seven vehicles were acquired by City – a Gilford, two Chevrolets, an A.J.S.Pilot and three Bedford WLBS, but only the Bedfords were used by the new owners. City continued to outstation two or three buses in the station yard at Laindon where ‘locals’ were employed to work and clean them.

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  • I can confirm that the man in the photo is my grandfather Tom Webster Jnr.

    By Simon webster (30/08/2017)
  • Further to my earlier suggestion, that the photo of the driver pictured in the Old Tom Bus photo may have been Tom Webster Jnr. If this is compared to the photo of Tommy Webster in the Laindon CC photo, I believe there to be a very strong resemblance which might confirm my earlier surmise and that the driver was Tom Webster jnr.and the father of Tommy Webster.

    By WH.Diment (13/10/2012)
  • Responding to L.Miller. I think the driver may have been Tom Webster Jnr. Perhaps Ken Porter who insitituted this page could ascertain this from Tom Webster Jnr. son Eric, whom I believe Ken does have contact with .

    By W.H.Diment (06/10/2012)
  • Does anybody know the drivers name on old toms bus photo

    By L Miller (01/10/2012)
  • The transfer of the bus service from Old Tom to the City was detrimental to the service, changing it from a passenger friendly service to an ‘efficient’ structure. For example while there were normal stopping places, these were not designated by visible signs and the Old Tom drivers were happy to pick up or set down where requested. Also whereas in the evenings Old Tom would await the arrival of London trains which were often late, the City which usually had an Inspector at the station, would depart on the scheduled timetable, often empty. Arriving commuters would then have to wait for the next service which would cause the buses to be overcrowded. 

    Whether this was in breach of the agreement with the rail company I do not know, for the agreement may have been based on the scheduled arrival time of the trains, which would allow the City to maintain departures to its booked timetable, or whether it was the actual arrival of late running services which would have disrupted the timetable. 

    Also the City despite having inspectors often seemed to allow buses to line up on arrival irrespective of next service and it was not unusual for the Laindon Circular to be the rearmost, the arriving passengers would board the first bus which could result in Fortune of War passengers filling the circular bus which leaving behind those for the north east corner of Laindon. 

    One factor which caused disruption to both Old Tom and City was that the Wash would regularly flood up as far as Barleylands and the buses would turn round and run via Church Rd. and the Arterial Rd and pick up the service at Pipps Hill corner. This may have infringed regulations as I do not believe the buses had running rights on the Arterial between Church Rd and Pipps Hill, although they did have such rights between Church Rd and the Fortune of War. 

    By and large, the Old Tom service was much more efficient passenger wise than the City, although not chronologically so, their priority being the needs of the public rather than the adherence to a timetable.

    By WH.Diment (09/01/2012)

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