This page uses content from Wikipedia and is licensed under CC BY-SA.

First Norfolk & Suffolk

First Norfolk & Suffolk
FoundedJuly 1931
Service areaNorfolk
Service typeBus services

First Eastern Counties, trading as First Norfolk & Suffolk,[1] is a bus operator providing services in Norfolk and Suffolk in eastern England. It is a subsidiary of FirstGroup.

It has seven depots which are part of five operating areas spread out across East Anglia. The five operating areas are Norwich, Ipswich, Great Yarmouth, Lowestoft and King's Lynn.[2]


Bristol Lodekkas at Cambridge depot in September 1977

In July 1931 the Eastern Counties Omnibus Company[1] was formed. It was a combination of the four existing bus companies in East Anglia. Eastern Counties Road Car Company of Ipswich, Ortona Motor Company of Cambridge and Peterborough Electric Traction Company all owned by Tilling & British Automobile Traction and United Automobile Services' East Anglia services and commenced with 534 buses.[citation needed]

Upon completion the major shareholders were United Automobile Services (43%), Tilling & British Automobile Traction (28%), London & North Eastern Railway (24%) and London Midland & Scottish Railway (3%). Also included was the Eastern Coach Works in Lowestoft. By the end of the 1930s the Eastern Counties Omnibus Company purchased another 50 operators.[citation needed]

In September 1942 Tilling & British Automobile Traction was placed in administration and its Eastern Counties Omnibus Company shareholding transferred to Tilling Group. In November 1948 it was nationalised and placed under the control of the British Transport Commission and in January 1969 became part of the National Bus Company.[citation needed]

In preparation for bus deregulation, in September 1984 the company's operations in Cambridgeshire were transferred to a separate company, Cambus Limited.[3] The company's coaching operations were also transferred to Ambassador Travel,[4] Great Yarmouth.[5]

In February 1987 the company was privatised in a management buyout. In July 1994 it was sold to the GRT Group who in June 1995 merged with Badgerline to form FirstBus.[6] In September 1996 the Great Yarmounth Transport[7] business was purchased.[5]

In April 2011 the King's Lynn based services were sold to Norfolk Green.[8][9]


First operates out of five main depots. Each division provides services to the area around its depot.

Network Norwich

First Norfolk & Suffolk operates services branded as the Network Norwich within the city centre of Norwich and to towns and villages within approximately a 20 miles (32 km) radius. Their fleet consists of Volvo B7TL and Dennis Trident 2 double deck buses with Plaxton President bodies, Volvo B9TL double deckers with Wright Eclipse Gemini bodies, some new Wright StreetDecks,[10] Wrightbus Streetlites, and Volvo B7L and Volvo B7RLE single deckers with Wright Eclipse bodywork.

On 23 September 2012, First Norwich relaunched its bus network with new colour branding for its routes.[11] Most buses in the fleet have now been painted in a colour at the front to reflect the line that they work.

On 22 March 2017, First announced that they are to introduce a direct bus service between Norwich and Bungay in Suffolk. The new service will be numbered X41 and will be part of the Charcoal colour line, alongside service 40 to Poringland, which the new service will also call at[12].

First Great Yarmouth

First Great Yarmouth operates services within the towns of Great Yarmouth and Gorleston as well as dedicated routes to Norwich and Lowestoft. The Great Yarmouth services operate out of the old Blue Bus depot on Caister Road which still retains its original frontage and is a listed building which dates back to the mid 1900s.[13]

The fleet consists of Dennis Trident double deck buses with Plaxton President bodies, Volvo B7TL deckers also with Plaxton President bodies accompanied by some Alexander ALX400 examples. Other deckers include Wright Eclipse Geminis, both on Volvo's B7TL chassis and the newer B9TL version. Single deckers in the fleet, like Norwich, are Volvo B7L Wright Eclipses and Wright StreetLites, which are supplemented by a small fleet of Dennis Dart SLFs with Plaxton Pointer bodywork.

First Lowestoft

First Lowestoft operates services within the town of Lowestoft as well as dedicated routes to Great Yarmouth, Beccles and Norwich. The Lowestoft services operate out of Britain's most easterly bus depot, situated on Gordon Road, just a few hundred meters away from Ness Point.

The double deck fleet consists of Volvo B7TLs with Alexander ALX400 bodies and Volvo B9TLs with Wright Eclipse-Gemini bodywork. The single deck fleet is made up of Dennis Dart SLF Alexander Pointer 2s and Alexander Dennis Enviro200s.

First Ipswich

Alexander ALX400 bodied Volvo B7TL in Ipswich in May 2011
Ipswich's (left) and Great Yarmouth's (right) heritage buses, with preserved examples of the livery stood next to them in 2015.

First Ipswich operates within and around the town of Ipswich to a radius of about 30 miles (48 km). The Ipswich services operate out of one depot situated on Star Lane, just a few minutes walk from the Old cattle market bus station.

Their double deck fleet only consists of Volvo B7TL Alexander ALX400 due to the height of their garage. Their single deck fleet is slightly more varied though with a couple of Alexander Dennis Enviro200s and some Volvo B7RLE Wright Eclipse Urbans. Having operated Ipswich's park & ride service from 2008 until November 2013, in July 2017 First Ipswich resumed operating the service.[14][15][16]


A number of services are operated under the Excel brand, most notably the excel itself between Peterborough, King's Lynn and Norwich and the X1 between Norwich, Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft. Prior to July 2014, the excel and X1 operated as a single service straight through from Peterborough to Lowestoft, 107 miles (172 km) end-to-end. The excel is operated by King's Lynn outstation - the only service operated by here - whilst Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft depots operate the X1 and related services,[17] all using 2013 Alexander Dennis Enviro400s with older Wright Eclipse Gemini-bodied Volvo B9TLs as spares.

Heritage Buses

First Norfolk & Suffolk celebrate their heritage with three specially liveried Volvo B7TL buses. Those at Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft commemorate the former municipal operators in each town, while the one usually based at Ipswich carries the Eastern Counties post-National Bus Company scheme of Post Office Red with orange and cream bands.


  1. ^ a b Companies House extract company no 257815
  2. ^ "About us | Norfolk & Suffolk". First UK Bus. Retrieved 28 April 2016.
  3. ^ Companies House extract company no 1822941 Cambus Limited
  4. ^ Companies House extract company no 1822939 Ambassador Travel (Anglia) Limited formerly Ambassador Travel (Eastern Counties) Limited
  5. ^ a b Morris, Stephen (Autumn 1996). "NBC since NBC: A history of the NBC operating subsidiaries". Buses Focus: 43–45.
  6. ^ Helm, Martin (January 2009). An incredible journey..the First story. Granta Editions. p. 203. ISBN 978-1857570960.
  7. ^ Companies House extract company no 2001520 Leathway Limited formerly Great Yarmouth Transport Limited
  8. ^ Norfolk Green takes over First routes King's Lynn Online15 April 2011
  9. ^ Norfolk Green grows as First retrenches 15 April 2011
  10. ^ "Press Release from First".
  11. ^ "EDP First Norwich article". 23 September 2012.
  12. ^ []
  13. ^ (, Community Sites. "Our Great Yarmouth". Retrieved 28 April 2016.
  14. ^ Ipswich: Borough owned firm wins back park and ride contract East Anglian Daily Times 13 July 2013
  15. ^ First Group takes over Ipswich park & ride in July with fewer buses Ipswich Star 26 April 2017
  16. ^ Changes to buses around Ipswich from 2nd July 2017 FirstGroup
  17. ^ "Changes to First Buses' flagship X1 service". Lowestoft Journal. Retrieved 30 April 2016.

External links