Did you used to travel by coach to the coast for the summer holidays when you were a kid?

If so, you might recall these vintage coaches which will be departing from North Weald tomorrow.

Last year was the centenary year of the registration of the National Omnibus & Transport Company, originally headquartered in Chelmsford, and the 140th Anniversary of the foundation of Royal Blue Coaches in Bournemouth.

From the 1920s onwards both companies operated express coach services into London and carried summer holiday makers and other travellers to destinations across the South of England from Clacton-on-Sea in the east to Penzance in the far west.

The onset of the Covid Pandemic prevented any celebration last year but organisers, the Thames Valley & Great Western Omnibus Trust, have devised a plan for a centenary +one event this summer, fully compliant with current Covid restrictions, so that the public can enjoy the spectacle of their fully restored vintage coaches taking to the road again.

Tomorrow (June 18) the coaches will leave from North Weald Station on the Epping – Ongar heritage railway at 9am and head to Chelmsford, before driving to Southend Esplanad, Basildon, and Thurrock.

The National Steam Car Company (the forerunner of National Omnibus & Transport Company and Eastern National) started operating steam buses in London in 1909 and National operated local bus services in Essex, Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire, from 1920 onwards, and from 1930 using the familiar Eastern National fleetname. In the West Country, National provided bus services across Cornwall, Devon, Somerset, South Dorset and parts of Gloucestershire and Wiltshire also from 1920 onwards and as Western National or Southern National from 1929.

The National companies were acquired by the Thomas Tilling Group in 1931. Tilling also acquired Royal Blue in 1935 and merged its express coach services with those of Western and Southern National to produce one of the largest long distance express coach service operators in the country which continued to trade using the Royal Blue name until the nationalisation of bus and coach services and the formation of National Express in the 1970s.