A Short History of Silver End Buses

by David Smith

1927 In February 1927 Silver End Developement Company started to run a service between Braintree and Witham.The company had six buses which were Ford and Panhard manufacture. They were painted grey with an orange band and a large blue 'Silver End' logo. The return fare from Silver End to Braintree or Witham was 7d. The garage was a wooden structure opposite Grooms Lane.

1930 Such was the success of the service, two new full size buses were purchased. They were Leyland TSIs, registration numbers VX5661-2. A larger wooden garage at the corner of Temple Lane and Boars Tye Road (previously an aircraft hanger from World War 1) was provided to garage all the company vehicles-vans,cars, lorries, etc.

1932 Crittalls decided to sell off the bus business. There were three interested parties. Eastern National Omnibus Co Ltd (ENOC),Hicks Brothers of Braintree and Royal Blue (Cummings) of Braintree. Hicks were the successful bidders and took the business including vehicles and staff.

1937 Hicks Brothers built a brand new garage opposite Temple Lane in Boars Tye Road. Augustus D Letch were the contractors. To celebrate, the first double deckers were allocated to Silver End to accompany the Leyland single deckers. The Fords and Panhards were disposed of.

1939 The outbreak of war saw Hicks Brothers bring their coach fleet from Clacton to Silver End for safe keeping. There was room for nine buses inside and eighteen outside.

1947 The heyday of operations. There were four double deckers operated by eight crews, a manager and an inspector. Crews operated six round trips between Braintree and Witham per duty.

1949 Negotiations were finalised for the sale of Hicks Brothers to the British Transport Commission (Tilling Group). Thus, Hicks came under the control of ENOC. By this time the entire Silver End vehicle allocations were 'Guy' vehicles

1963 Moore Brothers of Kelvedon was taken over by ENOC. Two Guy Arab V buses with Massey bodies ordered by Moores were delivered in EN livery

1965 Rationalisation by ENOC brought about the closure of Silver End depot in December 1965. Staff and vehicles were transfered to either Braintree or Kelvedon. The depot remained company property and over the following years was leased to PVS Ltd who exported life expired buses and coaches.

1974 ENOC decided to move out the bus operation from Kelvedon, leaving the premises there for National Travel South East. After extensive refurbishment Silver End depot re-opened on 31st October 1974.

1980 Conversion to one man operation (OMO) completed. During the morning peak there was a bus to Witham every ten minutes between 0550 and 0725. Between 0930 and1450 there was a bus every 20 minutes on a combined time table 53A Silver End to Chelmsford, 335 Braintree to Maldon, 337 Witham town services. During the evening peak there was a frequent return journey pattern back from Witham and an hourly evening service, with later buses running in from Chelmsford and Colchester. New PSV testing station opened at depot.

1985 Three new long wheel base Olympian double deck coaches were allocated for service 53 (Chelmsford - Colchester).

1986 Following the success of the above, three new short wheel base Olympians were provided with the larger versions being transfered to commuter operations.

1986 Deregulation. Service 335 withdrawn after over 30 years.

1988 Unfortunately the need to cut costs meant that Silver End depot had to close on 6 August 1988. Operations were transfered to surrounding depots, and the service provided for Silver End reduced to a basic hourly service.

1990 August. Minibuses introduced provided what is now a well established service 37 every twenty minutes between Braintree and Witham. There are now over 80 journeys a day from Silver End on weekdays, 50 on Saturdays and a two hourly Summer Sunday service 631 operated on behalf of Essex County Council.

You can read more about the history of buses in Silver End during the 'Hicks' era in Anthony Langley's book "Hicks - An Essex Bus Company".

Thanks to Anthony Langley for this information!

From a booklet published by Eastern National Marketing Department to support Silver End's 70th Anniversary in 1996.