|Year 1919 was a momentous time - Victory had been achieved,
it was a time for rejoicing and thankfulness, but also
sadness in many families.
Of the some three hundred young men and women who had served
in the Forces, barely two thirds returned to the village, 48
young men had died, and quiteDJG_PT3_001 a number settled down elsewhere.
The return home was just a trickle at first, many poignant
re-unions with parents and families were witnessed at the
Railway Station and in the streets. St. Mary's Sunday School
Concert was revived, the hit song was "The bells are ringing
for me and my girl -" Gertrude Anthony was in the starring
role and the supporting cast, girls in white frocks and the
boys in white tennis shirts, flannels and straw boaters, made
a very gay and colourful display. Employment in the village
was difficult, many of the young men who had returned had to
seek work elsewhere. Messrs. Drake Bros' shipyard was crowded
with laid-up yachts, as were the mud-berths, some yachts were
never re-claimed by their owners and gradually disintegrated
over the years. Ready restoration to peace-time conditions
was a slow process. The visit of Capt. Edward Sycamore, who
had been brought up by the Myall family, and apprenticed in
their smack "SWH", accompanied by some of the well known
yacht skippers of Colneside, brought some hope of employment
to the many young jerseyed men around The Square, but very
few yachts fitted out that year and many were disappointed
- it was not entirely a land fit for heroes. One of the
highlights of the year, was the first visit since the war,
of Mr. Frederick E. Hasler of New York, who was visiting
members of his family in the village. It soon became known
that he had purchased a field of 12 acres from Mr Arthur
French, adjoining the Parish Room, to be laid out as the
Victory Recreation Ground. It was surprising to know the
number of men in the village who claimed his friendship and
had shared his school days at Tollesbury.
The "Victory" or "Peace Day Parade" which took place in mid-summer
was the most spectacular ever, eclipsing the Jubilee Parade of
1897 the many floats and tableaux of Great War events being
horse-drawn or hand propelled. The event was staged by the various
organisations of the village, including the Buffaloe Lodges.
James Collins and Ralph Frost were splendid "John Bulls" and
one beautiful young woman portrayed "Nurse Cavell".
The effigy of the Kaiser was burned on the huge bonfire on
the to be "Recreation Ground" and I retrieved his sword next morning.
Sporting events took place on Parson's Meadow.
Quietly during these preceding months, a most crucial thing was
happening, which was to alter the whole pattern of life in the
village, the construction and inauguration of the first motor
omnibus in Tollesbury. A photo taken at the time depicts,
Mr. George W. Osborne, his friend and adviser Mr William S.
Harrington, Mr. Maskell and his son, coachbuilders and
wheelwrights, Mr. Eley, Mr. Maurice Rice and two or three
Osborne juniors, standing round a smart little "T" model Ford,
with wooden coach built structure on the chassis, Tollesbury's
first 'bus. The 'bus was most elegant, resplendant in its coat
of emerald green, trimmed with real gold leaf, and appropriately
named "The Alpha" also proclaiming its ownership to
"G.W. Osborne and Sons". The 'bus could seat twelve adult
passengers, six ranged on bench seats on either side, with
possibility of one or two privileged persons seated alongside
the driver at the front. Mr. and Mrs. Osborne had a family
of eleven, seven boys four girls, and practically from the
start all assisted in the business. Reg was the first
driver, and on the demobilisation of Jim from the R.N.A.S.,
he too took part, succeeded by Fred, and eventually by Joe and Gilbert.
Leslie emigrated and Ken entered business in London, but
eventually returned and drove for the firm.
Of the daughters, Ivy and Molly, are the most popularly
known and still take an active part and interest in this
splendid example of local enterprise. From the onset the
'bus service was further extended, with other vehicles,
notably "The Favourite" which could accommodate 24 adults.
The success of Mr Osborne's venture induced other transport
firms to commence operations from Tollesbury to Colchester,
but their endeavours were short lived, as the majority of
the villagers remained loyal to the local firm, and although
there was some "poaching" and "juggling with, time tables"
leading to altercation between the drivers, the matter was
eventually resolved by national legislation and transport
In the early days the 'buses were garaged at Mr. Osborne's
stables in New road, where to-day a fine commodious garage,
with very modern appliances and equipment have been
provided to cope with the cleaning, maintenance and
servicing of some fifty 'buses and coaches, of all
The most successful features of the business, so far as
the travelling public is concerned, are the shopping
excursions, continental and holiday tours, "mystery"
tours in the summer season, and the ever popular
"football supporters" journeys in aid of the Colchester
United football team. Since 1921 the firm has had
to provide school 'buses and have often been called
upon to provide transport for Ministry of Defence
and crews for ships.
To-day G.W. Osbcrne and Sons can be very proud of the
fact that in the past sixty years they have built up
one of the finest privately owned omnibus and coach
hire firms in the country. The villagers are most
appreciative of the excellent service combined with
kindliness and courtesy, which has been the key-note
of the firm, since horse-drawn carrier days,
and long may it continue.