In Part One I was rather enjoying myself, taking advantage of a free rein at Ensignbus' magnificent HQ in Purfleet. We pick it up where I left off, in the Aladdin's cave of a shed with vehicles of all shapes and sizes. Something I didn't expect, though, was a full fleet of BCI Enterprises doing not much. Ross Newman, Head of Operations at Ensign, explained that the Enterprises only go out on schools and rail replacement, never in general service. Since it was half term they were all in residence. A shame for anyone wanting to ride them, but there again Ross rightly pointed out there are no routes in that area where 100 seater monsters are required.
|3 of the 100 seater Enterprises|
|That's quite an ambitious journey!|
|RM54 LDS 279A ready for the big day|
Now listen to any school playground and you will hear claims of "my dad is cooler than your dad". In most cases this will be bravado, but in the case of the Junior Newmans it is right on the money. How many kids get taken to school in their own custom made open top mini Routemaster. I mean it just doesn't get any cooler than that. Let me introduce you to MRM 1.
|MRM 1 BNK 217A|
|MRM 1 in all her glory|
Leaving that magnificent oasis of bus preservation we crossed the yard to another big shed where single door conversions and other big jobs were taking place. However on the way we passed a BCI Excellence in an odd livery. Ross explained that they aren't that keen on loaning vehicles in Ensign livery (First and Borderbus must have been honoured!) so a couple are painted up in this green livery which I actually think looks rather smart.
|BCI Excellence 150 in loan green livery|
|The Jersey WWII survivor|
And that was it. Well actually no it wasn't it, as I mentioned that Ensign's yard backs onto HS1. This means the coolest dad in the world also has probably the coolest office window view if you are a transport enthusiast. Ross insisted I stand on a chair and take a video of a Southeastern Javelin hurtling past. Well it seemed rude not to accept!
And for good measure I took another video in the car park of a Class 373 Eurostar heading the other way.
And that really was it. My foretaste of Heaven was complete. There aren't enough words to satisfactorily thank Ross and all those I met at Ensign for giving me such a treat. I will certainly take up your kind offer to return, although probably not on another day the QE2 bridge is shut! What an advert and endorsement for independent operators, how to treat enthusiasts, and how to take such pride in the industry, its vehicles , its history, its future and most importantly the people making the business tick. Without staff you have no business and it was obvious how well Ensign's staff are regarded and treated. A lesson other operators could learn.
Ensignbus have a running day on December 2nd, where many of the vehicles featured in these posts will be out doing what they do best. 3 long routes including Gravesend, Bluewater, Tilbury, Lakeside, Brentwood and Upminster. An all day ticket costs a mere £10. Full details by clicking here.