As a subsidiary of the Tilling Group, Eastern National was formally established in 1930 following the investment in the parent group by the LNE and LMS railways, although the company's antecedents go back much earlier in the history of public transport of the region, to the Chelmsford operations of the National Steam Car Company. When first established, Eastern National's territory extended into Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire. However this territory was lost with the Nationalisation of Tilling Group in the late 1940s, when United Counties was established. This loss, however, was countered when the Eastern National area was extended in 1950 by the acquisition of Hicks of Braintree, and then in 1952 by taking control over another Tilling Group company (Westcliff-on-sea) and, in 1963, by the take-over of another old-established independent (Moore's of Tollesbury). In 1967, Eastern National, along with the rest of the Tilling Group's bus operators, became part of the National Bus Company, setting the scene for the next 20 years, until NBC was dismantled during the era of Privatisation and Deregulation.
As with other Tilling Group members, Eastern National's fleet was largely comprised of models from other manufacturers, including several batches from Bedford. In this latest addition to the 'Glory Days' series, the author describes the development of the operator from it earliest days through to the creation of NBC and beyond. Covering not only the fleet, but also the companies that took over, the book explores how the company's operations and fleet changed over the years. Incorporating over 50 colour and 75 mono photographs to supplement the author's well-informed narrative, the book is the first to be published on this popular operator for many years. Eastern National was based in Chelmsford and operated a network of routes around Essex and southern Suffolk.
Richard Delahoy lives in Southend. A regular contributor to the pages of Buses, this is his first book for Ian Allan Publishing.