A visit to Eastern Coach Works, Lowestoft

I’ve done a couple of delivery jobs for Crosville Motor Services recently and one of them took me to the Far East (of England). To Lowestoft, in fact.

Regular readers will know that I’m a big fan of any vehicle built by Bristol Commercial Vehicles. Due mostly to Government ownership, the majority of these were bodied by Eastern Coach Works and it was to the coastal town of Lowestoft, where the ECW factory was located, that each newly-built chassis had to be taken years ago.

site-of-eastern-coach-works

Crosville has sold a Volvo B10M coach to a new owner who lives near Lowestoft and I was asked to drive the coach there from Weston-super-Mare. I knew that the 280-mile journey would take most of the day so I arranged to stay the night in Lowestoft and return the next day by train.

VanHool-bodied K7CJT has carried the number CRZ9825 while in service with Crosville but, by the time I arrived to take it to its new home, it had regained its original mark. The workshop staff had given it a once over the previous day and, not having driven this vehicle before, I spent some time checking it over before venturing out onto the road. Locating the side and headlight switch seemed to take me the longest time and I tried a good number of the rocking switches on the dash before finding the correct (rotary) switch near the steering column. That’s what happens when all the switch labels have worn off after years of use! A colleague at the depot, who is keen on the heritage side of the business, came over to see where I was going and asked me if I was going anywhere near the site of the ECW factory. I said I didn’t know where it was, not having time to research it the day before when planning my route. Lowestoft is quite a big town and I thought it would be unlikely that I’d be passing the site, even if I knew where it had been.

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Wilts & Dorset photo archive, part 2

Here are some more images from my collection of historic Wilts & Dorset photographs.

This is a 1946 Bristol K5G, of which there were many in the Wilts & Dorset fleet in the 40s, 50s and 60s. Note the early design of ventilator on the side windows. Eastern Coach Works was soon to change this to the more familiar all-aluminium design as seen below. Also caught in the shot is the rear end of a Vauxhall Wyvern (or Velox), one of those sit-up-and-beg cars from the 1950s that resembled the American design style of the time. My grandfather had one.

Shown here is a 1947 Bristol K5G, seen either when brand new or fresh from a re-paint.

At the other end of its life, I photographed Bristol KSW6G in the yard at Salisbury’s Castle Street depot in 1973, shortly before withdrawal. I suspect it was having battery troubles, hence the starting handle being inserted through the radiator. However, I wouldn’t fancy being the chap with the job of swinging the heavy Gardner lump with a handle! I remember seeing these old Bristol Ks on country services, en-route to such far-flung places as Hindon. As seen above, they were also put out on Private Hire runs. I clearly recall being taken to Sunday School on one of these, which was hired by the Elim Pentecostal church in Salisbury town centre. I enjoyed the lengthy ride all round the city, gathering up children from the suburbs.

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