Moore Brothers (Kelvedon) Ltd. 1815-1963

The history of Moore Brothers can be traced back to W. E Moore, who, in 1815, first commenced operations as a carrier using three donkeys and a cart.

The business was gradually developed and by 1865 a horse drawn (passenger and goods) carrier service was operating between Chelmsford and Colchester (the use of donkeys was discontinued in 1877!).

The first horsebus service was introduced in 1881, between Kelvedon and Coggeshall, to link with the Great Eastern Railway line to London.

By the end of the century, Charles, Horace and Basil Moore, now trading as Moore Bros., were also operating a passenger service between Braintree and Colchester as well as continuing the carrier service. In 1912 the first motorised vehicle, a Ford T chassis, was purchased.

This was ostensibly for use as a taxi, but also later served in connection with the bus business and in a funerary capacity. Two more Ford T’s were purchased in 1913, before the first purpose-built non-horse-powered passenger vehicle, a Clarkson steam bus, was acquired the following year.

The new vehicle was used to inaugurate services between Kelvedon and Colchester. On Tuesdays and Fridays journeys would be via Tiptree, whilst on Wednesdays and Saturdays, it would serve Coggeshall.

An additional route serving Colchester from Braintree was also introduced around this time.

In July 1915, Moore Bros., took delivery of a new Thornycroft 30hp vehicle with 14 seat charabanc body, joined by two more Thornycroft J types in 1919, one of which (HK4232) came via Berry of Colchester and received the body from the Clarkson steamer.

The other (HK6530), although purchased new, carried a second-hand body from an ex-British (British Automobile Traction) bus. The delivery of these vehicles meant that the use of the carrier carts could be discontinued.

The final Thornycroft was delivered in 1922, the fleet in the meantime being expanded by the purchase of several more Ford T’s, that were used on various duties, including passenger services.

Two further routes had been introduced by 1924, Kelvedon to Braintree, via Earls Colne and Halstead on Wednesdays and via Easthorpe and Birch on Fridays. Initially the Ford T’s were used to supplement the service, but with the arrival of new vehicles this was no longer necessary.

The route between Colchester and Kelvedon was extended to Chelmsford in 1929 and necessitated the purchase of more vehicles.

Initially, two Thornycroft A6 buses with 26-seat bus bodies were purchased, joined later the same year by a 20-seat GMC T30, which, along with another GMC that had been purchased the previous year, proved so successful that the larger 32-seat T60 version was ordered.

At the same time two Gilford 168 OT models were delivered, and quickly became the standard vehicle, a further eight such vehicles being acquired in the following two years.

In 1932 the stage carriage services of Blue Bird Services of Tiptree were taken over, along with a solitary Gilford 166 OT vehicle.

Bluebird had operated two routes, between Colchester and Tolleshunt Knights via Tiptree, and Chelmsford to Malden via Hatfield Peverel, neither of which connected with Moore Bros., routes (apart from a small section on the Colchester to Chelmsford service) and involved dead mileage for Moore’s buses.

Throughout the 1930’s Moore Bros., continued to expand its stage carriage services and added additional routes including Braintree to West Mersea, via Coggeshall, Kelvedon and Tiptree and a Saturday only summer season express service to Great Yarmouth.

There were improvements to existing routes, the Chelmsford to Colchester service was now hourly, the Braintree to Colchester every 40 minutes, whilst the Colchester to Tiptree was hourly with additional journeys on Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays via Messing.

In order to cope with the diverse nature of the routes and an increasing demand for private hire and contract work, the company ordered two Albion PV70’s for delivery in 1934.

The petrol-engined Albions proved popular with passengers and crew alike and accordingly orders over the next few years were predominately for Albion models.

In 1937, three ex-City of Oxford Motor Services AEC Regent double-deckers were purchased, breaking the single-deck monopoly, which had been Moore Bros., policy since 1925.

With the outbreak of the Second World War in 1939 the immediate consequences of petrol rationing and the fact that some of the older vehicles were approaching the end of their useful lives, made the economics of double-deckers more viable.

Three second-hand buses were purchased to replace the more elderly Gilfords and during the war years further double-deckers (including an ‘unfrozen’ Bristol K5G) were purchased.

The first Guy Arab I (JTW447) was delivered in 1943 and interestingly was still in service at the time of the take-over in 1963! Subsequently the Company standardised on Guy chassis for future orders, including those purchased for coach work.

During the war, however, Moore Bros., bus services were radically curtailed and some sections of route (including the journeys on the Colchester service via Messing) were abandoned altogether and never re-instituted after the war.

In 1947 though a new Wednesday only service between Braintree and Pattiswick, and a Friday only service between Messing and Colchester, were introduced using exclusively single-deck vehicles.

Guy Arab vehicles continued to predominate and in the early fifties a clutch of second-hand vehicles was purchased, four ex-Birch Bros. Arab II’s and four ex-Dartmouth Coaches single-deck Arab III’s.

These were used to replace the petrol-engined Albions and AEC single-deckers and to demote the other surviving non-standard vehicles to ‘spare’ duties.

The delivery, in 1954 and 1955 of three new ‘tin-front’ Guy Arab IV’s finally allowed the Company to withdraw the remainder of the petrol-engined vehicles and non-standard makes from the fleet.

A new route was introduced in 1956 between Earls Colne and Colchester, travelling via Coggeshall, Kelvedon and Messing, replacing the Kelvedon to Earls Colne and Messing to Colchester routes.

There were only four journeys on weekdays and just three on Sundays, requiring the use of only one vehicle, usually a single-deck Arab III saloon.

A surprising choice for the coach intake for this year, given the Company’s penchant for Guy vehicles, was two Commer Avenger III chassis with Duple C41F bodywork, which joined the only other two non-Guy vehicles in the fleet, two Bedford OB’s of 1951.

A further Commer Avenger, this time a type IV chassis, was purchased in 1960.

What was to be the final new service introduced by Moore Bros. commenced on December 5th 1960, between Tiptree and Colchester and provided a single inward journey to Colchester in the morning peak and two outward journeys in the evening peak.

Two years later, on the last day of 1962, and after several weeks of rumours, the application by Eastern National for the take-over of Moore Bros. services was made official.

The then proprietor, Mr. Harold Moore, had taken the decision to sell because there was no one to succeed him now that he had reached retirement age.

The date of the take-over was 3rd February 1963, and after almost 150 years of service to the public, Moore Bros. (Kelvedon) Ltd, left the public transport stage.

In producing this history reference has been made to the following source;
‘Moores of Kelvedon’ by RN Collins and GR Mills (Buses Illustrated, No. 132, March 1966).

Bus Fleet List 1912-1963 |