ONO 59 - 1949 Bristol K5GONO 59 - 1949 Bristol K5G

Eastern Coach Works L - R body

Eastern National No. 4038 / 1327 / 2255

Built in 1949, this bus has a 'Lowbridge' version of the Tilling Group's standard Eastern Coach Works body, originally to 55 seat, L27/28R form.

New to Eastern National as fleet number 4038, later renumbered 1327 and further re-numbered 2255, this bus covered approximately 550,000 miles in service in Essex and the Eastern fringes of London. The original livery was 'Tillings green' and cream, the same livery as Lincolnshire Road Car. Depot allocations with Eastern National included Chelmsford (CF) in its early years, and later Basildon (BN) and Clacton (CN). The Clacton allocation may have been (in common with many EN vehicles in their later years) for the Summer season service enhancements.

As Eastern National No. 1327 at Clacton Bus Station on service 115 to Clacton Wargrave Road. Date uncertain, but prior to the 1964 renumbering scheme.

(c) Essex Bus Enthusiasts Group

On reaching 'retirement' age, this bus was selected in winter 1966 / 67 by a group of students from South Essex from a batch of buses that had recently been withdrawn from service. They converted the bus to a mobile caravan, complete with bunk beds, cooker and kitchen sink, and a driver / top deck communication device (made from a hoover tube). Platform doors were also fitted - ONO 59 had been an open platform bus in service.

From January to August 1967, the bus covered 120,000 miles through 20 countries around the world, setting off via France, Italy, Yugoslavia, Greece, Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq, Kuwait and Afghanistan to India, narrowly avoiding armed conflict in the middle east at the time. From India, the bus travelled to Singapore, Australia and New Zealand, by this time each side of the bus was adorned with a large 'Union Jack' based livery, and advertising claiming it to be a 'London double deck bus'. The next stage of the journey was to the USA via Central America. Finally, the bus returned to the UK via Belgium.

'ONO' on tour, in Perth, Western Australia, 1967. Photos - John Ward collection

Having completed this adventure without any serious mechanical difficulty, the students were reluctant to see the bus go for scrap and wanted it to go to a good home. The bus was presented to the LVVS by Mr S Twell of Ingham, a dealer, who was then the Vice-President of the Society.

"Ono" was then used for many years as the Society's Tender Vehicle and mobile accommodation, but has now been off the road for some years.

We are also seeking Eastern National destination blinds for this bus and any further information about what ENOC garages it was allocated to in service.

Also, ONO 59 lost its cast front registration plate before it left on its world tour. Does anyone have this in their collection? It would be good to re-unite it with the bus!

Click here for a photograph of ONO 59 ready to depart on its tour

Click here for an article in the 'Southend Echo' marking 40 years since the journey

ONO 59 - Bristol K5G ONO59 - Bristol K5G
ONO 59 at the LVVS shortly after arrival ONO 59 in the early 70's. crossing London's Chelsea Bridge - probably on the way home from the London - Brighton Rally.
ONO59 ONO 59 in 1986
ONO 59 in 1971 in Brighton

(courtesy Tom Deakin collection)
ONO 59 in 1986 - opposite the (now demolished) Lincolnshire Road Car garage at St Marks, about to set off to the London - Brighton Rally

A thorough restoration is now taking place, with assistance from PRISM grant

More about progress prior to 2016 can be seen on this page.

Summer 2016 Progress -

It has been a busy time in the workshop so far this summer. The major focus of attention is ONO 59, which is having a lot of attention to its woodwork. Both saloons have had the coving plates replaced along with work on the lower deck floor and front bulkhead and platform area.

The front destination box is being rebuilt, lino has been ordered for fitting later in the summer, and some seats are now complete and are being trial fitted.

ONO 59 ONO 59 ONO 59
above - Front framework being replaced - 4 June 2016

below - upper deck coving plates replaced, 8 June 2016
above - Lower deck 'bench seats' under construction - 4 June 2016

below - rear framework being replaced,10 June 2016
above - Upper deck seat frames ready for seat cushions - 4 June 2016

below - two Eastern National Clacton depot allocation plates, recently donated to us for the restoration by Mr Brian Young
ONO 59 ONO59 Clacton Depot plates
ONO 59 ONO 59 ONO 59
above - Upper deck seats ready for trial fit - June 2016

below - view through rear destination blind windows (awaiting re-fitting of destination blind box) - July 2016
above - framework between decks, rear offside - 22 June 2016

below - wiring for nearside indicator receiving attention - 10 July 2016
above - new cover for front destination box - July 2016

below - old and new - when the seats were removed for conversion to a caravan, the mounting bolts were cut through. A new set has been made.
ONO 59 ONO 59 ONO 59
ONO 59 ONO 59 ONO 59
above - a week in July - new framework in place, painted with primer, and panelling going on.

More and larger resolution photos can be seen on this album on our Facebook page


Bristol K and L Web site
Essex Bus Enthusiasts Group

page updated 31.7.16