The City Coach Company left a considerable legacy when it sold out to the British Transport Commission in February 1952. This necessarily brief overview may be appropriate 50 years on.


None of the City depots remain, the last to go being Brentwood which was replaced by a Sainsbury’s superstore in 1997, the actual City buildings having been occupied by Thermos Ltd since 1954. Wood Green closed in 1981 and the depot itself no longer exists, nor does Tyler’s Avenue in Southend which has long been the site of a car park. The City livery of brown and cream passed into history in 1955, when six-wheel Leyland saloon LT8 (CUL802), Commer Commando C8 (LPU691) and Leyland Titan LD8 (NVX305) are thought to have been the last vehicles repainted into Tilling green and cream. The City fleetname, which was perpetuated on some drafted-in Eastern National Leylands, fell by the wayside as Bristol Lodekkas took over on what by then had become the 251 although it continued for years in colloquial use.


The main Southend to Wood Green service survived as the 251, largely unchanged until 1981, when it was cut back to Walthamstow (although it had lost its post-War diversion via Battlesbridge in 1961). The Billericay to Walthamstow (Bell) section was all that remained when the 251 finally bowed out in 2000. The portions from Romford to Billericay (751) and Wickford to Rayleigh (25) still survive, with several services covering the road on to Southend. Billericay to Wickford is the preserve of NIBS 222, which on Sundays runs through from Southend to Brentwood.


Langdon Hills has a frequent service to and from Laindon following the former City route 15 (later Eastern National’s 259) and a limited service 256 still serves Little Burstead and Billericay along part of the old City service 3. City 7,  later EN 256, survives through Billericay’s Outwood Common Estate (then called Sunnymede) as part of the Queen’s Park to Stanford le Hope service 101; there are still some services from Billericay to Ramsden Heath, albeit very much less frequent. It is no longer possible to go from Laindon to Ongar via Dunton, Herongate, Brentwood and Kelvedon Hatch but the section of 151 between Laindon and Brentwood approximates to part of City’s 4 with Arriva 501 covering the road on to Ongar. Hutton’s Bracken Bank, one-time terminal of City 2 from Brentwood, has since been an intermediate point on the 252, 262, 80 and now 752. Herongate (Old Dog), Little Warley (The Greyhound) and Warley (Waterworks) are no longer to be seen on destination screens, but Clintona 261 follows the former 11 route to Doddinghurst and Hook End before continuing to Blackmore over a stretch of the old City 4. Stondon Massey retains a limited service (once being the terminus of City 11) provided by Clintona 71/72 and the remainder of the old 4 beyond Blackmore through Nine Ashes and High Ongar is part of Arriva’s 32 from Chelmsford. Brentwood’s Woodman Road lost its importance once Ilfords moved out of their Selo Works in 1984, but only became part of a through route (the 73A) rather than a terminal in April 2001.    


None of the famous 6-wheel Tigers or Gnus survived, sadly, but two former City Leyland Titans remain in existence, both as converted to open-top by Eastern National. Alexander-bodied former LD1 (LEV917) has been in preservation since 1965 while Beadle-bodied LD14 (NVX311) is understood to still be alive and well in South Carolina. Luckily there are also very many photographs and a few other artefacts around to remind us of this proud company.


© Chris Stewart/EBEG, 2003