With the withdrawal on 20th February 2001 of the Brentwood/Fryerning area 19-22 group of Village Link services (possibly the first RBG-funded services in the country to suffer this fate?), it may be appropriate to look at some of those villages which have lost bus links, often not for the first time. South Weald and St Vincent’s Hamlet were served by Eastern National from 22nd May 1955 until 10th April 1981 (the Fridays only service 263, probably originally proposed by Westcliff) and then by Bordabus (to Abridge) both with full-size vehicles. Eastern National used ordinary single-deckers, latterly anything from MW’s to RE’s (although usually carrying the same 17 or so passengers), while Bordabus usually had either an ex East Kent Reliance or ex South Midland RELH coach. I believe though that there was a more recent EN revival using minibuses – can anyone confirm? Fryerning and Mill Green were served by Eastern National 10B/30B/40A from 1935 until the 15th May 1970, when the service was withdrawn without replacement. When introduced in 1935, the 10B ran three Friday and four Saturday round trips, although by 1949 this had reduced to two each day. Meanwhile the section of road between Fryerning and Blackmore is again without buses, having previously seen only a very short-lived service by Saywood in the 1920’s and probably nothing since. Beggar Hill near Fryerning was in fact served only from 22nd February until 26th July 1999, when one of two route changes affecting the 19-22 group took place (the other was on 2nd May 2000 when the section along the narrow Dagwood Lane was removed). Navestockside retains a very limited service (one bus each way Monday to Friday, one extra from Brentwood on Saturday) provided by Clintona running the 72 (Brentwood – Stondon Massey) under ECC contract, having suffered long periods without any service at all in the past. Other parts of Navestock had services many years ago, the ‘Alma Arms’ and Navestock Common (‘The Plough’, now closed) first being reached by Tiffin (later of coach fame) with a 14-seater Crossley (PC7465) in about 1925. Henderson ran to Navestock from about November 1928 until June 1934, causing an outcry when the service was withdrawn. I believe it wasn’t served again until 4th December 1973 when the 260 was diverted there on an experimental basis on Tuesdays only. Going back many years before that, Romford & District ran from their home town on certain days of the week around 1927/8, and G H Betts of Gidea Park did likewise in about 1930. As the Village Link 19 passes over the old GLC boundary in Noak Hill, it passes the very rural Pentowan Farm terminus of the one-time LT service 174’s, which retained RM’s simply to facilitate this manoeuvre.
And so another attempt to provide village bus routes in the area has passed into history; the are also interesting parallels with some other lost rural links. From 7th September 1990, Vantage Coach Hire ran on Fridays only from Stock to Ingatestone via Buttsbury (157) and Margaretting to Basildon via Mountnessing, Hutton and Billericay (357). Both had been taken over (under contract to ECC) from District Bus Company but the services lasted only until 30th October 1992.
For the record, the 19-22 group comprised:
19 Weds & Sat Fryerning to Romford via Blackmore, Stondon Massey, Hook End, Doddinghurst, Kelvedon Hatch, Dudbrook, Navestockside, Horsemanside, Noak Hill and Gidea Park
20 Monday Ingatestone to Epping (St Margarets Hospital) via Fryerning and as 19 to Navestockside, Sabines Green, Navestock Heath, Passingford Bridge, Theydon Mount and Fiddlers Hamlet.
21 Tues & Fri Pilgrim’s Hatch to Chelmsford via Coxtie Green, Navestockside, Dudbrook, Kelvedon Hatch, Doddinghurst, Wyatts Green, Swallows Cross, Blackmore Road, Fryerning, Mill Green, Highwood and Nathans Lane.
22 Tues & Fri Fryerning to Brentwood via 21 route to Doddinghurst, Frog Street, Navestockside, St Vincent’s Hamlet and South Weald.
Another minor point is that there are no longer any services scheduled to use the bus stop in the purpose-built slip road outside Sainsbury’s in Brentwood, almost on the site of the old City Coach Company depot.
Compiled by Chris Stewart, with thanks to Peter Clark for some of the route information.
© Chris Stewart/EBEG, 2003