|I was born in No.6 Council House, Barfield Road in February, 1932. As soon as I was able, I was up at the front window watching the different buses of four companies passing by, so I've always had an interest in buses. It appears that the very first motor bus to run between Colchester and Mersea was a Daimler Wagonette belonging to A.W. Berry from 1903. Next to come were the open topped double deckers introduced by the Great Eastern Railway as a feeder service to their trains, and built at their Stratford locomotive works.
The first Mersea owned buses were of the Mersea, Colchester & District Transport and Bus Co Ltd., known as the Primrose Bus Co. because of their livery. Local people bought shares in the Company. Most, if not all of their buses were built on the chassis of army lorries returned from France after the end of WW1. My Uncle Herbert Green, an early Primrose driver, recalled how he and another driver collected two of these vehicles from the London Docks one winter's day and drove them back to Mersea. They were just little more than wheels, chassis and an engine. They had to sit on a wooden box to drive.
I don't remember these buses but I do remember the three Guy saloons which came second hand from London General Omnibus Company. I even went to Colchester in one, and then to Brightingsea in a Berry's bus to visit my Uncle Rupert who was a policeman there. The Guys passed to the Eastern National in December 1935 and were given fleet numbers, but it's doubtful if they ever worked for Eastern National, in fact. one became a weekend caravan in Seaview Avenue and it's quite likely the other two suffered the same fate.
A.W. Berry had started by running a horse bus to Mersea in 1888. By 1903 he had an engineering works in Port Lane, Colchester. He repaired motor cars and also built a very early steam lorry. A.W. Berry came to Mersea to live between the Wars.
I'm pretty certain two of Berry's open topped double deckers ended up in A.W. Berry's garden in Kingsland Road as on the way home from school I used to scramble thought the hedge and explore the remains of two old buses that had been there so long that sizable elm trees were growing through the floors.
All the bus companies running to Mersea sold out to Eastern National 1935/36, though Underwoods went back to running coaches after WW2. One of the bus services to the Island is still run by the successors to Eastern National.
A Great Eastern bus at the Strood. They ran from September 1905 to February 1909.
A WW1 photograph showing a Berry's bus at the Strood in the days when Mersea needed an armed guard.
Mersea buses in Stanwell Street in Colchester. Uncle Herbert Green is on the left - he worked for Primrose Buses. Bob Woodward leaning on the radiator nearer the centre - he was a conductor at the time.
A Primrose Guy, waiting for the tide at the Strood
Published in Mersea Life July 2023