Throwback Thursday: First Eastern Counties at Showbus 2001

One of the most interesting entered was P20GRT (Steven Hughes)
In this week's Throwback Thursday we head fourteen years back to Showbus 2001 at Duxford Imperial War Museum for a look at the large selection of buses entered by First Eastern Counties. An impressive eleven vehicles appeared from the operator on the day, which was unfortunately shrouded by heavy rain.

Entry number 297 in the rally was P20GRT, an Irizar Century bodied Scania L94 new to Grampian Regional Transport - hence the registration number. At the time, the coach was operating in Scottish Citylink livery devoid of any branding or vinyls. P20GRT was one of a trio of the type transferred to First Eastern Counties in 2001 for the X99 service, operating from Ipswich to Lowestoft. The other two came from First Glasgow and operated in their allover red livery, which derived from their native depot. Within two years P20GRT was back in Scotland with First Midland Bluebird; she later saw service with Devon and Cornwall, then went back to her home country with First Glasgow. By the end of her time with First Group, P20GRT was given the national fleet number 62266. Interestingly, the coach still survives today with Abbotts of Leeming as a school bus.

Park and Ride liveried 551 also made an appearance (Steven Hughes)
Making an appearance as entry 289 was Wright Axcess Ultraflow bodied Scania L113CRL 551 R511CNG. The bus had been new just over two years beforehand for the newly awarded Postwick Park and Ride service, which was the first time the site had opened. 551 may be a familiar one for those model collectors out there, being the vehicle chosen by Exclusive First Editions to be cast for release in February 2001. With the introduction of the national fleet numbering system 551 became 65551. In 2005 when the contract passed to Norfolk County Council who introduced a fleet of brand new Irisbus Agora Lines, 65551 was repainted into standard Barbie livery and received Yellow Line branding as part of the newly introduced Overground network - designed to revolutionize bus networks operated by First, inspired by the London Underground system. It didn't really take off, especially in Norwich, with the route branding being ignored by the time the initiative was scrapped entirely; obviously, the branding on 65551 was taken off. After her time was over with First Eastern Counties, 65551 was headed for Essex for use at Clacton depot.

From Great Yarmouth came Dart 419 (Steven Hughes)
Exhibited by First Great Yarmouth was East Lancs EL2000 bodied Dennis Dart 419 K62KEX. The bus was wearing the Great Yarmouth "Blue Bus" variant of the yellow and red First Anglia livery. New to Great Yarmouth Transport as 62, the bus had dual purpose seating and was among the last new deliveries to the municipal operator before First took over. Notably, the bus still exists locally today after being acquired for preservation by the East Anglia Transport museum. Progress with it, however, has been slow and it still requires a lot of work.

Other vehicles shown off by First Eastern Counties included Bristol VR CJH144V, X94 Excel branded Plaxton Premiere bodied Volvo B10M 42 R842DVF, Alexander Dash bodied Volvo B6 390 L104WYS and two Dennis Dart SLFs - the identities of which were not confirmed until the day. Other local vehicles included two from Konect Coaches (Now Konectbus), three vehicles from Norfolk Green, one from Peelings Coaches and two from the East Anglia Transport Museum.
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About Kieran Smith

Norwich Buses Blog was founded in December 2013 by Sam Larke after he left another popular blog, Norwich Bus Page. Since it's launch, the site has grown dramatically, especially whilst written solely by Kieran Smith during 2015. The blog is now in it's third year and we look forward to more success and growth in the future. If you think you'd make a good writer for Norwich Buses Blog, please do get in touch via email:
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