ID WIG_BUS / Tony Millatt

TitleWigborough Carriers and Buses
AbstractDuring the 19th century and well into the 20th century, the carrier provided transport for most people. Farmers and better-off people would have a horse and cart - and everyone would walk a lot more.
The trade directories such as Pigot's, White's and Kelly's list carriers serving Wigborough, and in addition, carriers from Peldon, Tollesbury etc. would also serve Wigborough, on their way to Colchester.

Kelly's in 1850 lists Peldon and Wigborough Carrier Mr Marlborough from The Plough in Colchester daily. For over 50 years however, it was the Christmas family that were the carriers for Wigborough. The 1881 Census lists Frederick Christmas of Little Wigborough as a carrier and in 1882 Kelly's lists George Christmas as the Carrier to Colchester from for Peldon, going to The Plough. At this date William Christmas was a miller's carter in Peldon, but was soon to enter the carrier business.

George (1828), William (1833) and Frederick (1836) were all born in West Mersea, sons of John and Susannah Christmas.

By 1891 William was a carrier and farmer, at Drakes Corner Great Wigborough, serving Peldon running to Colchester, along with George Reeves. William died in 1900 and his son William John was carrier at Drakes Corner, running till at least 1914.

Meanwhile, in 1902 Percy Christmas, a younger brother of William John, married the widowed landlady of the King's Head ...

WW1 changed things in many ways. Transport changed, with ex-Army lorries becoming easily available. Bus services then expanded rapidly and in the 1920s Percy Christmas started a bus service from the King's Head. He ran to Colchester, serving Wigborough, Peldon and Abberton, with his son Percy William driving the bus.
Kelly's of 1929, Great Wigborough's entry reads "The omnibuses of Percy William Christmas leave here for Colchester daily except Thurs and Sun calling at Abberton, Peldon and Pete Tye.
By 1937 the bus and route had been sold to Thorp Brothers of West Mersea, and then in September 1937 Thorp Brothers sold out to Eastern National.

1931 - the bus was used to chase bicycles stolen from the King's Head

Osbornes of Tollesbury were busy developing, and Great Wigborough was fairly well served by Tollesbury to Colchester services, but most would only touch Great Wigborough at the King's Head. G.W. Osborne based in Tollesbury was a large family firm that started as carriers, and their first bus service, before 1920, was Tollesbury to Colchester via Layer de la Haye. Later in the 1920s, Primrose (from Mersea) also ran the same route, and National ran a Tollesbury to Colchester service some days of the week. Victor Brown's Bluebird Coaches ran a Tollesbury to Colchester via Birch service.

Regulation came under the 1930 Road Traffic Act, and 1931 Osborne's from Tollesbury got a licence to run a Tollesbury to Colchester service via Layer de la Haye. A year later, Victor Brown from Tiptree stopped running buses, and Osborne's took over the Tollesbury to Colchester via Birch service. These routes via the King's Head continued for many years, and indeed are not greatly changed today, though they are run by Hedingham who took over Osborne's services in 1997.

Two of Osborne's fleet of petrol-engined Bedford Duple buses waiting in The Square at Tollesbury. They ran on most of Osborne' services, including school buses such as Salcott, Wigborough and Layer Breton to Birch

In 1965, Eastern National withdrew their 79 Great Wigborough to Colchester service, and Osborne's provided a replacement by extending their existing Colchester to Layer Fox service via Abberton and Peldon to Wigborough. In 2020, the Abberton to King's Head via Peldon part of this survives as Hedingham 50B, then returning to Colchester via the B1026 and Layer Fox. It runs on Mondays.

The 176 was a "shoppers bus" sponsored by Essex County Council. It ran on Mondays from East Mersea to Highwoods, Colchester, via the Esplanade, West Mersea, Peldon, Great Wigborough King's Head, Layer Fox, Tollgate and Colchester Head Street. The service was run by Hedingham and later Stephensons of Rochford. It ended 11 February 2016 as part of a series of County Council cutbacks.

Stephenson's bus on the 176 service at West Mersea High Street 24 August 2015

176 bus about to turn right at the King's Head 24 August 2015

Sources and more to read:
"Just the Ticket" by David Thornton c1989 [65]
"Osborne's Buses from Tollesbury" by G.R. Mills. 1995
King's Head, Great Wigborough
Peldon's carriers and early bus services

AuthorTony Millatt
SourceMersea Museum
IDWIG_BUS