With a combination of enthusiasm and professionalism, Ensignbus took over operation of the open-top seafront service 68 in Southend last summer and over 10 weeks attracted record numbers of passengers. As JOHN G. LIDSTONE reports, the company’s initial worries evaporated as crowds flocked for a fun ride in the sunshine.

MCW Metroliner 372 meets Wright-bodied Volvo B7TL 392 in Westcliff, with the aftermath of high tide and an on-shore gale evident in the foreground. Most pictures by 
With the Thames Estuary and an ebbing tide behind, Alexander ALX400-bodied Dennis Trident 339 reveals its City Sightseeing-trimmed upper deck seats as it climbs Belton Way West from Leigh station on the last trip of the day.

He may have been harbouring misgivings, but Ross Newman, Ensignbus’s operations director, was smiling as he began operating the open-top seafront service in Southendon-Sea in July. ‘I just love everything about it, except checking the weather every day. I haven’t done that for years.’ 

Not that he need have worried about the weather in what — in this part of the world — was one of the longest sustained periods of sunshine since the summer of 1976. There only were two rainy days.

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