In 1981 Anglian Coaches was formed by David and Christine Pursey. A small, family concern, they ran coaches of weird and wonderful shapes and sizes out of a site in Loddon, and soon became a familiar sight in Suffolk and Norfolk. I'm grateful to Dave Marshall, engineering supremo at Anglian for over 25 years before joining Andrew Pursey to launch Borderbus, for sending me a great selection of pictures of some of the early coaches, including a magnificent early Setra. I won't go into details over them - anyone interested can do so at their leisure by Googling the registrations.
In 1999 the decision was made to expand the company into bus work. The contract to operate the Diss - Yarmouth 580 was won. Realising that expansion meant extra capacity was needed Anglian relocated to their purpose built depot at Ellough in 2000, complete with a shiny new pit I have a feeling the Chief Engineer at the time is still rather proud of..
|The brand new pit at Anglian 2000
By 2012 Anglianbus was so successful it was the largest independent in East Anglia, with some 90 buses and over 100 drivers. From Ipswich to Great Yarmouth to Diss to Norwich not much of the area was untouched by Anglian, with the huge majority of rural community routes operated by them. The company attracted interest from more than one of the big operators, but one showed more interest than most. Go Ahead tried twice, unsuccessfully, to buy Anglian but David Pursey refused. Then fate stepped in. David Pursey became seriously ill, and recognising he was unlikely to recover he accepted a third and much higher bid from Go Ahead, firstly to guarantee his family's financial future, and let's face it who wouldn't make the same decision, and secondly, because Go Ahead promised nothing would change, that it would be business as normal, all jobs protected, and that the company would continue to flourish and expand. On 20th April 2012 Anglian became part of Go Ahead, and here is Go Ahead's statement. The final paragraph is particularly poignant.
One thing that should never be forgotten is that it was David Pursey who sold Anglian, not Andrew. David owned the company, he founded it, and it was his to do with as he pleased. Andrew played a massive part in Anglian's success, but his dad was the boss. I'm lucky to have been given a very rare picture of David Pursey standing by one of his buses. I never met him. I wish I had. I've never heard a negative word said against him.
|David Pursey by one of his Beavers
|One of the gas buses at Kessingland Beach, no longer served by buses.
The 60 between Beccles/Bungay and Lowestoft/JPH which at its peak ran to a 20 minute frequency became virtually nothing overnight. The 62 between Lowestoft and Halesworth was scrapped, affecting many communities, and the 80/81 between Diss and Yarmouth trimmed to its bare bones. Yes, Council subsidy cuts played a part, but not all of it. There was no desire from Anglian management to save the routes. The public wasn't consulted, and Go Ahead continued to run Beccles as a London depot, wondering why it wasn't working yet still refusing to listen.
|The very last 62, gas bus 100 operating
I visited Anglian's Beccles depot the other day to take a couple of final pictures. The only thing missing was the tumbleweed.
On 20th November 2017 all Anglian services became Konect. Anglianbus Co Ltd still exists so the drivers can continue to be paid at a lower rate than Konect drivers, but all services are now operated by Konect.
So thanks for the memories, Anglian. Thanks for buying (not leasing) the best single decker bus ever built then trashing them. Thanks to all the drivers who became mates, too many to individually name but a couple of them have become close friends. Thanks to everyone who has given me their memories and opened their hearts up over the last couple of weeks. Those hearts are broken at what Go Ahead has done. As Andrew Pursey said to me when I asked for his thoughts "It's like watching a family member die from cancer. You can't do anything about it, it's tortuous and upsetting when they die, but in a way almost a relief too". This has,indeed been a tortuous death, but now maybe it has paved the way for something or someone new to succeed where Anglian self destructed. I hope so, or Suffolk will become a very barren patch for bus services. RIP Anglianbus
I'll leave the final words to Bernice Carver. An engineer at Anglian for many years (and my invaluable mole) she only left a few months ago, and was witness to the carnage around her. She has written a poem, which she has given permission to publish, as well as her name. I think it conveys perfectly the raw emotion evident in those who truly cared about Anglian. Bernice even had pet names for her buses, and this last pic of 452 is for her. The last bus with Anglian fleetnames I have taken. Yes on a Konect route but I guess that's appropriate. Thanks, Bernice and I hope your anger becomes calm soon.
|Anglian 452 Scania Omnilink AU58 AUV in Norwich 17th November
Anglian Bus years ago in time,
was at it’s peak, and in it’s prime.
The staff were happy, the buses well kept,
more and more passengers, they did collect.
Yellow was the colour, with the bottom half blue,
always seen in villages, towns, and the city too.
Anglian ruled, for a while at least,
competitors realising, it was a defeat.
Passengers were happy, offering congrats,
to the Pursey family, we took off our hats.
Then one sad day, Anglian was sold,
NOT due to debt, as we were all told.
Love and compassion, were the reasons it went,
words that Go Ahead, cannot comprehend.
In came the vultures, known as Konect,
management taking, all they could get.
Swapping the buses, from the new to the old,
the warmth in the depot, had suddenly gone cold.
Robbing Anglian, to pay Konect,
I’ve never seen, such a disrespect.
They sent in the bully, and the idiots too,
saying they could do, what we couldn't do.
Well, that they did, they left us in disgrace,
and now they only option, is to go and close the place.
So due to the management, at Go Ahead
they have killed Anglian, Anglian is dead.