HISTORY OF “COACHSTOP” - A Family Affair 1922-2022 Celebrating four generations of the Bridge Family engaged in passenger transport since 1922.
1922 - “Edwards Hall Motors Ltd” Eastwood. Known locally as the “Blue Buses”, Henry Ritchie Bridge (a local housebuilder) purchased two Dennis Vulcan single deck buses at the 1922 Motor Show and commenced operations on a route running from Rayleigh to Southend-on-Sea connecting with his new housing estate at Eastwood.
1922-1927 - Before long, the new "Blue Buses" were seen by “Westcliff-on-Sea Motor Services”, the main bus operators in the town, as a major threat that needed to be dealt with. Intense competition broke out between the two companies with Henry Bridge (HRB) and his sons gaining control of "Westcliff-on-Sea". The two companies were combined and in 1927, HRB took over the "Red Buses" of “Hadleigh & District Motor Services" who operated from a garage in Oak Road, Hadleigh.
1929 - HRB swaps 300 acres of Pitsea marshland and a flock of 200 sheep with Major Pearce and acquires “PEARCE’S MOTOR WORKS” of Benfleet. This gives Henry Bridge a toe-hold on Canvey Island and the opportunity to expand his growing travel network.
1929-1932 - HRB buys out several one-man-bus operators on Canvey Island and combines them with Pearce's Motor Works to form "CANVEY & DISTRICT MOTOR TRANSPORT CO". He builds a fine new bus garage in Point Road, Canvey Island which remains standing to this day and provides a home for the Canvey Bus Museum.
1932 -1931 - Following the take over of "Hadleigh & District", HRB builds a second new bus garage at Victoria House Corner in Hadleigh where he brings most of the fleet under one roof.
1932-1949 - HRB and sons Alan, Norman and Stanley form a new company and combine the entire network into “BENFLEET & DISTRICT MOTOR SERVICES LTD” which includes a large network of local routes. Benfleet & District Motor Services had been using the old Hadleigh & District bus garage in Oak Road, Hadleigh but this was now surplus to requirements and soon to become the new premises for Benfleet Garages Ltd.
1946-1969 - SUPREME COACHES LTD - The formation of this business came about in 1946 when HRB wished to provide a separate business interest for his third son Norman to tap into the growing private hire market. In 1960, Norman bought out the business interests of Mr Alfred Stern who traded as "Westcliff Belle Ltd". With a garage in Park Road, Southend, Norman merged the business with "Supreme" and operated the enlarged business from the Park Road Garage adding a new excursions & tours programme
1954-1972 - BENFLEET GARAGES LTD - Formed by the two brothers Alan & Norman Bridge, they moved into the old bus garage in Oak Road, Hadleigh and were soon selling new Austin Cars from the showroom. An agency to sell Hillmans, Humbers and Singer Cars was quickly added along with a chain of petrol filling/car service stations. In 1968, Norman decided to scale down his business interests and sold "Supreme Coaches" to his brother Alan.
1968-2005 - SUPREME TRAVEL/SUPREME HOLIDAYS - Supreme Coaches now became "Supreme Travel" and new coaches were added to the private hire fleet. Norman had retired and following the untimely death of Alan in 1972, the business was taken over by Alan's widow Eileen and her two sons John & Ian Bridge. The business prospered and a full programme of holidays & short breaks were operated under the banner of "Supreme Holidays". Eileen added a small chain of ABTA affiliated travel agents with shops in Basildon, Hadleigh, Leigh-on-Sea and Southend.
2005 to Present Day - COACHSTOP - Taking the name from an old but well-received travel company in Leigh-on-Sea, the new "Coachstop" was set up by Toby Bridge who is the great grandson of the original transport pioneer Henry Ritchie Bridge. Assisted by his father John, the business is nowadays based in Rettendon and in 2022, it celebrates 100 years of Bridge Family involvement in the local passenger transport scene.