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Bristol RE ECW

A preserved Bristol RE with ECW bodywork, photographed at the Manchester Museum of Transport

Leyland Atlantean AN68 ECW open topper

A Leyland Atlantean AN681R with ECW bodywork, built in 1978 (YNO 77S) for Colchester Borough Transport, later converted to an open top bus for City Sightseeing operation in Colchester.

Bristol Lodekka F56G - 1961 - reg 109 DRM

A Bristol Lodekka with ECW bodywork

Eastern Coach Works Ltd was a bus and railbus[1] body building company based in Lowestoft, England. The company became a British Leyland Motor Corporation subsidiary, before closure.

HistoryEdit

The company can trace its roots back to 1912, when United Automobile Services was founded in the town to run bus services.[2] United began a coach building business at the Lowestoft site in 1920[3]. In 1931 the East Anglian operations of United were split off into a new company, Eastern Counties Omnibus Company, and Eastern Counties inherited the coach works - now concentrating on building bus bodies with a workforce of over 600 people[4]. In July 1936[5] the coach works were separated into a new company, Eastern Coach Works, which developed into the largest full time employer in Lowestoft.

In May 1940 the factory received orders from the Military authorities to cease production. It was thought that, following the outbreak of World War II, the east coast would be the first target for an invading German army, so all wheeled vehicles were moved away from the site, so that they did not fall into enemy hands. As a result of this, 950 staff were laid off.[6] By 1947 though, production was back to pre war levels.

ECW was nationalised in 1947. For the next 18 years its business consisted mainly of building bus bodies, which were mounted on Bristol chassis, for state-owned bus operators. In 1965 the state-owned Transport Holding Company sold a 25% share in ECW to Leyland Motors, which enabled ECW to sell to the private sector.[7] During the 1960s it was common to see a bare bus chassis being driven through town by a goggle wearing driver, delivering the chassis for a body.[8] In 1969 ECW became part of a 50/50 joint venture between the National Bus Company (successor to the Transport Holding Company) and British Leyland (successor to Leyland Motors). The joint venture came to an end in 1982, when British Leyland took complete control, and ECW closed in 1987.[9] ECW was one of Lowestoft's largest employers with around 1200 staff at its peak.[10]

Products Edit

ECW was probably best-known for its close association with Bristol Commercial Vehicles. Amongst the Bristol buses most frequently bodied at Lowestoft were the:

  • Bristol LH - a small, single deck bus (1970s)
  • Bristol Lodekka - a front-engined double deck bus (1950s and 1960s)
  • Bristol RE - a single deck bus (1960s and 1970s)
  • Bristol VRT - a rear-engined double deck bus (1970s), successor to the Lodekka

References Edit

  1. "Bristol / Eastern Coach Works Railbus" (web). The Railcar Association. Retrieved on 2008-01-11.
  2. United - a potted history
  3. White, Malcolm R. (2007) Coachwork by Eastern Coach Works Lowestoft, Coastal publications. ISBN 9780954732356.
  4. White, Malcolm R. (2007) Coachwork by Eastern Coach Works Lowestoft, Coastal publications. ISBN 9780954732356
  5. White, Malcolm R. (2007) Coachwork by Eastern Coach Works Lowestoft, Coastal publications. ISBN 9780954732356
  6. White, Malcolm R. (2007) Coachwork by Eastern Coach Works Lowestoft, Coastal publications. ISBN 9780954732356
  7. Townsin, Alan (2000). The Bristol Story Part Two, Venture Publications. ISBN 1-898432-78-3
  8. "The Benjamin Britten High School - About Lowestoft" (web). Retrieved on 2008-01-11.
  9. "COACHWORK BY EASTERN COACH WORKS LOWESTOFT". Publishers book info (ISBN 9780954732356). Ian Allan Publishing. Retrieved on 2008-01-11.
  10. White, Malcolm R. (2007) Coachwork by Eastern Coach Works Lowestoft, Coastal publications. ISBN 9780954732356

Further reading Edit

  • A. Witton, (1989). ECW Buses and Coaches. Capital Transport publishing.  ISBN 185414 107 4

External links Edit


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