ONO 49

Sometimes we walk past Society vehicles in the Museum without really stopping to consider their history, how they came to be owned by the Society, and the reasons why they escaped the scrapman’s fiery torch! Let’s remind ourselves – starting with ONO 49. 

ONO 49 is one of ten Bristol L5G buses that were ordered by Eastern National Omnibus Company for delivery in 1949, The full batch took fleet numbers 4020 to 4029, and were registered ONO 41 to 50 inclusive. The last three, including our bus (4028), arrived early in 1950 and is built on Bristol Commercial Vehicles chassis 028 from Sanction 79. It has a Gardner 5LW engine with 5-speed manual transmission, and Eastern Coach Works B35R body (number 4050 Series 2).

These buses were used on a variety of ENOC services across the company’s operating territory, which in those days stretched beyond Essex to include as far west as Aylesbury and north to Bedford and Huntingdon, In 1952, the “Midland Area” services of ENOC in Bedfordshire, Buckinghamshire and Cambridgeshire were transferred to sister company United Counties of Northampton. The transfer included around half of the ENOC fleet but only one ONO L5G – ONO 45 (4024). 

The nine remaining buses from the batch then settled down to enjoy fairly uneventful lives with Eastern National on services all over Essex, ONO 49 was renumbered to 309 in July 1954 (the number it carries today), and to 1107 in August 1964. Service with ENOC after its third number allocation was short, and it was taken out of service at the end of the summer, being sold in October 1964 with a number of other redundant buses to a well-known dealer in Lincolnshire.

Our bus was then sold to Seddon, a civil engineering contractor based in the North West in January 1965. When the contractor finished using ONO 49 in 1972, it was acquired for preservation by the late Terry Coughlin, passing to the Eastern National Preservation Group in 1981. It became a popular visitor to rallies over many years, and was a regular performer at CPTMS open days. It also enjoyed a supporting role in the BBC TV sitcom “Hi-De-Hi!”, ferrying holidaymakers to the fictitious Maplin’s Holiday Camp. Later, ONO was used by fans of the series in some of their reunion events. With the winding up of ENPG in 2000, ONO 49, along with a number of other vehicles, was donated to CPTMS.