Eastern National Omnibus Company

Eastern National

Preserved Eastern Coach Works bodied Bristol MW6G in July 2008
Parent National Bus Company
Founded 1929
Service area Bedfordshire
Service type Bus operator

Eastern National was a bus company operating in south east England from 1929 to the 1990s.

Early history

Preserved Eastern Coach Works bodied Bristol RE in October 2010
Preserved Eastern Coach Works bodied Bristol RE in October 2010
Preserved Leyland National in September 2009

Eastern National Omnibus Company[1] commenced operating in 1929 as a joint venture between the London and North Eastern Railway, the London, Midland and Scottish Railway and the National Omnibus & Transport Company. The National company had originated in 1909 as the National Steam Car Company, operating steam bus services in London. The London services ceased in 1919, when the company was renamed National Omnibus & Transport Company. The company expanded outside London, first in Essex (1913), where the company bought the bus operations of the Great Eastern Railway around Chelmsford, and later in Bedfordshire (1919), Gloucestershire (1919), Somerset (1920), Dorset (1921), and Devon and Cornwall (1927).[2] The National continued to expand in Essex, Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire.

The railways developed networks of feeder bus services in the 1920s, but the legal powers of the railway companies (after 1922 the Big Four) to run bus services were unclear and each promoted private legislation (the Road Powers Acts of 1928) to obtain clarity. One result was that the railways were in future to refrain from taking a controlling interest in bus undertakings. This led the companies to enter into partnerships with the bus companies, including the National. In 1929 the London and North Eastern Railway, the London, Midland and Scottish Railway and the National formed Eastern National Omnibus Company, to which all three shareholders transferred their bus operations in Essex, Hertfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Bedfordshire and Huntingdonshire.

In 1931, a controlling interest in the National Omnibus was acquired by the Tilling Group. From then on Eastern National was run as a Tilling company, although the railways retained their shares until 1948.


In 1948 the railways were nationalised, and shortly after, the Tilling Group sold its bus interests to the government. Eastern National therefore became a state-owned company, under the control of the British Transport Commission.

The new regime resulted in rationalisation of the company's area of operations. In 1952 the company's operations in Bedfordshire, Buckinghamshire, North Hertfordshire and Huntingdonshire were transferred to United Counties,[3] and also in 1952 control of Westcliff Motor Services was transferred to Eastern National.

On 1 January 1963, Eastern National was included in the transfer of the British Transport Commission's transport assets to the state-owned Transport Holding Company, which in turn passed to the state-owned National Bus Company on 1 January 1969.

In 1964 it advertised the following Express Services:-[4]


As part of the privatisation of the National Bus Company, Eastern National was sold to in a management buyout.[5] In 1990, Eastern National passed to Badgerline.[6][7]

Badgerline divided the company into two: Thamesway Buses in the south of Essex and Eastern National in the north.[8] Eastern National was included in the June 1995 merger of Badgerline with GRT Group to form FirstBus.[9][10] FirstBus combined the two operations and renamed the company First Essex.[11]


  1. Companies House extract company no 237553 Eastern National Omnibus Company Limited
  2. Morris, C (2008) Western National Omnibus Company Ian Allan ISBN 978-0-7110-3174-6 p.17
  3. United Counties Arriva Aylesbury
  4. Eastern National Express Services, timetable and fares. Eastern National. 1964.
  5. NBC sells more Commercial Motor 10 January 1987 page 14
  6. Badger turns to East Commercial Motor 19 April 1990 page 6
  7. Thurrock Transport website
  8. Badgerline to split Easter subsidiaries Commercial Motor 12 July 1990 page 28
  9. Badgerline links with GRT The Independent 5 April 1995
  10. Link-up creates second largest bus group: GRT and Badgerline in agreed £265m merger Herald Scotland 5 April 1995
  11. Companies House extract company no 1961457 First Essex Buses Limited formerly Essex Buses Limited formerly Eastern National Limited

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