First Norfolk & Suffolk

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First Norfolk & Suffolk
Parent FirstGroup
Founded July 1931
Headquarters Norwich
Service area Norfolk
Service type Bus services
Routes 68
Depots 5
Fleet 342

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 Norwich[edit]

First Norwich is a division of First Norfolk and Suffolk, which operates services within the city centre of Norwich and to towns and villages within approximately a 20-mile radius. Currently, 21 services of various frequencies are operated by the company.[10] 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,[11] Wrightbus Streetlites, and Volvo B7L and Volvo B7RLE single deckers with Wright Eclipse bodywork.

Colour coded bus network[edit]

On 23 September 2012, First Norwich relaunched its bus network with new colour branding for its routes.[12] Buses received exterior vinyl branding, to identify the route which they operate, with a number of vehicles allocated as spare, to be used on any route if required, receiving plain white 'Norwich Network' branding.

From 2014, new buses to the fleet were painted in a special version of First's livery with different coloured fronts, whilst the spare vehicles wore the usual First livery.

At present, First Norwich operates the Purple Line, Red Line, Yellow Line, Pink Line, Green Line, Blue Line, Orange Line, Turquoise Line and Charcoal Line.

First Great Yarmouth[edit]

First Great Yarmouth is a division of First Norfolk and Suffolk, which operates services within the towns of Great Yarmouth and Gorleston as well as dedicated routes to Norwich and the Suffolk town of Lowestoft. Currently, 9 services of various frequencies are operated by the company.[13]

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.[14]

The fleet here, 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[edit]

First Lowestoft is a division of First Norfolk and Suffolk, which operates services within the town of Lowestoft as well as dedicated routes to Great Yarmouth, Beccles and Norwich. Currently, 9 services of various frequencies are operated by the company.[15]

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 here 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[edit]

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 is a division of First Norfolk and Suffolk, which operates within and around the town of Ipswich to a radius of about 30 miles. Currently, there are 24 services of various frequencies operated by the company. [16] 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. Ipswich is the only First Norfolk and Suffolk fleet to offer leather seats and WiFi on all their buses, following a huge refurbishment scheme in 2014.

First King's Lynn[edit]

First King's Lynn is a division of First Norfolk and Suffolk, which operates one service in the town. The X1 runs between Peterborough, King's Lynn, Norwich, Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft and is 107 miles end-to-end. King's Lynn used to operate the full service but due to long delays it was split to operate in two sections with King's Lynn operating the Western side of the route from Peterborough to Norwich, whilst Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft depots operate the Eastern side from Norwich to Lowestoft.[17]

For more information, see the dedicated page for the service: First Norfolk & Suffolk route X1.

Heritage Buses[edit]

First Norfolk & Suffolk celebrate their heritage with specially liveried buses in each depot. At present, Ipswich, Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft all have one Volvo B7TL each in their fleet painted in the colours that buses used to be in their areas in the mid 1900s.

Norwich are yet to have one painted, whilst due to the nature of the King's Lynn operations, they will not receive one.


  1. ^ a b Companies House extract company no 257815
  2. ^ "About us | Norfolk & Suffolk". First UK Bus. Retrieved 2016-04-28. 
  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. ^ "First timetables - Norfolk and Suffolk". 27 January 2015. 
  11. ^ "Press Release from First". 
  12. ^ "EDP First Norwich article". 23 September 2012. 
  13. ^ "PDF of First's routes in Great Yarmouth" (PDF). 
  14. ^ (, Community Sites. "Our Great Yarmouth". Retrieved 2016-04-28. 
  15. ^ "First Lowestoft Network Map PDF" (PDF). 
  16. ^ "First Ipswich Network Map PDF" (PDF). 
  17. ^ "Changes to First Buses' flagship X1 service". Lowestoft Journal. Retrieved 2016-04-30. 

External links[edit]