Tuesday, 18 August 2020

Bus painted in pre-war 1930s livery in nostalgic tribute to Westcliff-on-sea Motor Services

source - FirstGroup / John Lidstone

Bus painted in pre-war 1930s livery in nostalgic tribute to Westcliff-on-sea Motor Services

Some local vintage news now in the form of the welcome return of some æsthetically-pleasing 1930s livery applied to one of our bus operator's vehicles as part of its celebration of the 100th anniversary of one of its predecessors.

FirstGroup's standard colours of white, blue and pink (known in some quarters as "Barbie" buses for obvious reasons!) have long been anathema to this blogger so any effort to bring back some of the more tasteful hues of bus companies past is definitely a good thing in my book.  In fact most modern bus firms' colourways from the last twenty years or so leave a lot to be desired compared to what has gone before, so it is to be hoped that First's foray into more tasteful heritage livery sets a trend that others will follow.

FirstGroup's "Barbie" livery (ugh!) in contrast to the much classier cream and red
of competitor Hedingham Omnibuses.
source - Wikimedia Commons

First Essex's original Westcliff-liveried Dennis Trident
source - Wikimedia Commons
This is in fact the second of First Essex's buses to have been repainted in the colours of Westcliff-on-sea Motor Services, which was the main private bus company in the Southend area from the 1910s up until 1954 (when it was bought out by Eastern National, which until then had operated only in the north of Essex), with an ex-London Transport 2002 Dennis Trident (above, and in the background of the first photo) also having been given the same treatment a few years ago and which can still be seen plying various routes around Southend as well.  Now it has been joined by this newer 2011 Volvo B9TL which as well as providing a nice bit of vintage-painted luxury (by First Essex's poor standards, at any rate - they're known around here as "WorstGroup" for a reason, unfortunately) along the region's routes will also be put into use as a "flagship bus" (it could use a few more of them, too) at events up and down the county, so I expect I shall see it and its older sibling at future bus rallies once they restart post-covid.

First Essex's latest Westcliff-liveried Volvo B9TL at Southend.  The bus in the
background is a competitor Arriva, proving that they could also do with looking
through their back catalogue for livery inspiration.
source - Busmopolitan

In any event, I am delighted to see a local bus company taking inspiration from the past and decorating its vehicles in the much more stylish colours of the 1930s.  While it has been acknowledged that the appearance of modern buses is far removed from the chrome and swooping lines that were prevalent in that period (more's the pity; someone needs to design a whole bus that harks back to those times, much like the New Routemaster only perhaps more successful - we can only wish!), I'd say First have been successful in applying the '30s livery of Westcliff Motor Services to the shape of these buses and it certainly makes them look a damned sight better to my eyes.  Now they just need to roll it out to the rest of the fleet - they could do worse than use Eastern National's colours of green and cream, for example.  What about it, First?

***Which historic liveries would you like to see reintroduced on buses?  Let me know in the comments below!*** 

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