With the news that FirstGroup is to take over Ensignbus, DAVID JENKINS looks over the company’s history and considers its future under new ownership

LEFT: Ensign made its name with the DMS, with examples to be seen around the UK, as well as in Asia and America. One particular coup was selling them back for use in London, with London Buslines taking half a dozen for route 81 (Slough-Hounslow) one of the first tranche of routes to be won by independents, which started in July 1985. GHM 869N is at Hounslow West station in June 1987.

Perhaps it is no surprise that at the age of 83 Peter Newman is apparently retiring, with the sale of Ensignbus to FirstGroup. Fellow directors sons Ross and Steve are also now north of 50, though the heritage bus business – including Ross' pride and joy, a former Southend Transport Van Hool Astromega – will remain with the family. Ensign is effectively three businesses in one, and First is taking both the local bus operations, and perhaps more surprisingly, the vehicle dealing side too. Although it has had various periods of running buses, it is the buying and selling of primarily second-hand buses and coaches that established the Ensign name and its reputation as 'omnibus suppliers to the world'.

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