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Au Morandarte Flickr DSC01982 (10027697976).jpg
Founded1972; 49 years ago (1972)
Service areaEssex
East London
Service typeBus services
Bus dealer
Bus preservation
Routes12 (April 2020)
HubsGrays station
Lakeside Shopping Centre
Chief executivePeter Newman

Ensignbus[1] is a bus and coach operator and bus dealer based in Purfleet, Essex.


Alexander Royale bodied Volvo Olympian in 2004
Marshall Capital bodied Dennis Dart SLF on Rail replacement in April 2012
Weymann bodied AEC Regent III at Clapton Pond in October 2005

Ensignbus was formed in 1972 by Peter Newman, who remains involved today as chairman and his sons Ross and Steve as directors. Ensignbus commenced with a small number of bus contracts for the Port of London Authority and Lesney Products and later diversified into bus sales and operating open top bus tours.[2]

Bus sales[edit]

The company came to prominence in the UK when London Transport decided to dispose of its unpopular and poor performing Daimler Fleetlines from 1979. Ensignbus was the only company willing to bid for all these buses as one batch, numbering over 2,000 buses, as preferred by London Transport.[2][3]

As the vehicles arrived, Ensignbus moved to larger premises in Purfleet. While some were scrapped, Ensign sold many of these buses to operators around the country and abroad, with many ex-municipal companies and new operators requiring cheap re-inforcements for enhanced competition following the deregulation of bus services in 1986. Over 400 were sold to China Motor Bus in Hong Kong.[2][4]

During the London Pride Sightseeing operation, Ensignbus continued selling buses in smaller numbers from a site in Rainham. With the sale of London Pride, Ensignbus moved to another site in Purfleet, and grew its sales business.[2]

Ensignbus was involved in the sale of London's AEC Routemaster buses following their withdrawal from regular use.[5] As of 2013, it was the largest used bus dealer in the UK.[6]

Open top tour operations[edit]

In October 1985, Ensignbus purchased the London Pride Sightseeing open top bus tour business.[7] Through links gained by selling open top buses to other operators around the world, Ensignbus expanded the concept to other cities setting up new tours. In January 1998, the open-top tour business was sold.[2]

Starting in 1998 with an operation in Seville, in 1999, Ensignbus launched the City Sightseeing global sightseeing bus brand with a worldwide franchise model, and proceeded to rapidly expand into several cities. In May 2002 City Sightseeing bought out its main rival Guide Friday.

In November 2000, Ensignbus reacquired the London Pride Sightseeing business but sold it in 2001 to The Original Tour. In June 2004, Ensignbus purchased Bath Bus Company and transferred its City Sightseeing operations in Cardiff, Eastbourne, and Windsor to the company.[8]

In February 2011, the Bath Bus Company business was sold to the RATP Group.[9][10] In April 2011, Ensignbus sold City Sightseeing to Enrique Ybarra.[11]

London tendered services[edit]

As a result of deregulation in the mid 1980s Ensignbus expanded into tendered London Buses work in East London.[12][13] Starting with one or two routes, Ensignbus gained a network of routes, using several second hand vehicles and batches of new vehicles:

In July 1989, it purchased the business of Frontrunner South East from Stagecoach East Midlands with route 248 and 252.[15] In December 1990, Ensignbus sold its London tendered bus services to Hong Kong company Citybus with the Dagenham depot and 87 buses. It was rebranded as Ensign Citybus and then Capital Citybus.[16]

Ensignbus briefly re-entered London tendered service,[when?] taking over routes 324 and 348 from First Capital who had bought Capital Citybus. Routes 325 and 509 were later added before Ensignbus once again sold its London services in December 1999, this time to Town & Country Buses.[2]

Essex & Kent services[edit]

In 2004, Ensignbus commenced operating a 12-month rail replacement contract in Kent for South Eastern Trains while the Higham and Strood tunnels were closed to strengthening. To make use of the dead running from its Purfleet depot, route X80 Chafford Hundred to Gravesend via Lakeside and Bluewater Shopping Centres was introduced. It proved successful and hence was kept going after the rail contract finished. In 2006, Ensignbus commenced operating services under contract to Thurrock Council and began operating services in Thurrock in competition with Arriva Southend.[17][18] As at October 2016, it operated 16 routes.[17] In April 2017, Ensign took over two further routes in Thurrock from Amber Coaches.[19]

In June 2019, Jetlink X1, a night bus service between London Southend Airport and London Victoria via Lakeside Shopping Centre, Canning Town, and Embankment stations commenced.[20] It was withdrawn after a few weeks due to Ensignbus being denied access to Southend Airport.[21][22] It recommenced on 5 October 2019 [23][24] but was withdrawn again in March 2020 due to the COVID-19 Pandemic.

On 17 June 2019, Ensignbus' services in Brentwood were taken over by NIBS Buses.[25][26][27]


AEC Routemaster in the Pride London Parade 2016

Today, Ensignbus retains a small bus service network centred on Grays station[28] and Lakeside Shopping Centre.[29] It also regularly provides buses for rail replacement services to train operators including Abellio Greater Anglia, c2c, Southeastern, and Transport for London.

Ensignbus also operates a dealership selling used buses from several major UK and Irish operators.[30] In 2016, it became a dealer for BCI products, starting with the BCI Enterprise high capacity integral double-decker.[31] The company acts as a partner to Vantage Power, a firm developing technology to retrofit existing buses with diesel-electric hybrid engines.[6][32]

Ensignbus maintains a fleet of heritage buses with AEC Regent III, AEC Routemaster, Daimler Fleetline, Leyland Titan, MCW Metrobus, and Scania Metropolitans represented.[33] As well as being available for charter, Ensignbus operate these at an annual running day on the first Saturday in December each year.[34][35]


Ensignbus has fleet of both single and double deck buses which are a combination of new and second-hand purchases. Fleet livery is light blue and silver. The fleet includes six hybrid electric buses delivered in 2012.[36]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Companies House extract company no 2656574 Ensign Bus Company Limited
  2. ^ a b c d e f The History of Ensignbus Ensignbus
  3. ^ Cash loss for LT on Fleetline deal? Commercial Motor 6 July 1979
  4. ^ Ensign shows flag Commercial Motor 16 May 1981
  5. ^ The great bus sale BBC News 10 December 2004
  6. ^ a b Vantage Power's hybrid engines The Daily Telegraph 1 July 2013
  7. ^ Ensign now is the pride of London Commercial Motor 19 October 1985
  8. ^ Martin Curtis: Top draw sightseeing in Bath Bus & Coach Professional 30 August 2006
  9. ^ Tour de France: city bus firm bought by European business Archived 18 December 2014 at the Wayback Machine Bath Chronicle 2 March 2011
  10. ^ RATP Dev announces the acquisition of the Original Tour Archived 12 November 2014 at the Wayback Machine RATP Group 11 September 2014
  11. ^ "Ensignbus sells City Sightseeing". routeone. Archived from the original on 21 September 2013. Retrieved 4 May 2013.
  12. ^ Outside firms win London bus tenders Commercial Motor 4 January 1986
  13. ^ LRT allocates 10 bus routes Commercial Motor 25 October 1986
  14. ^ Ensign increases MCW order Commercial Motor 9 June 1988
  15. ^ EBS to buy Frontrunner Commercial Motor 6 July 1989
  16. ^ From Hong Kong by bus Commercial Motor 10 January 1991
  17. ^ a b Bus Services Ensignbus
  18. ^ Network Ensign Coach & Bus Week issue 1260 3 October 2016 pages 16-24
  19. ^ Ensign Buses step in to run two key routes Your Thurrock 4 April 2017
  20. ^ "x1-london-southend-airport-shuttle-bus". Retrieved 11 June 2019.
  21. ^ "London Southend Airport Jetlink X1". Ensignbus. Retrieved 12 June 2019.
  22. ^ New Ensignbus service withdrawn due to Southend Airport banning its vehicles] Coach & Bus Week issue 1398 18 June 2019 page 8
  23. ^ "Bus services - approved onsite Jetlink X1". 2 October 2019. Retrieved 2 October 2019.
  24. ^ "New bus service makes Southend Airport easier than ever to access". Retrieved 1 October 2019.
  25. ^ Brentwood Ensignbus Services NIBS Buses 29 April 2019
  26. ^ NIBS to takeover Ensignbus Brentwood services Route One 1 May 2019
  27. ^ NIBS buses to acquire Brentwood Bus Operations from Ensignbus Coach & Bus Week issue 1392 7 May 2019 page 6
  28. ^ "Public Transport Timetables". Thurrock Council. Archived from the original on 21 September 2013. Retrieved 4 May 2013.
  29. ^ "Getting to Intu Lakeside". Lakeside Shopping Centre. Retrieved 4 May 2013.
  30. ^ Bus Sales Ensignbus
  31. ^ Ensignbus goes high capacity with decker deal Route One 14 June 2016
  32. ^ Hybrid moves on the buses The Engineer 12 May 2016
  33. ^ Restorations Ensignbus
  34. ^ Into Autumn - the countdown to running day starts here... Ensign Vintage Buses Blogspot
  35. ^ Vintage buses running for one day only Thurrock Gazette 29 November 2016
  36. ^ Six new Volvo hybrids for Ensign Bus Coach & Bus Week 28 November 2012

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 51°29′38″N 0°13′54″E / 51.49399°N 0.2317°E / 51.49399; 0.2317