Thomas Clarkson (Manufacturer of omnibuses)
Albion Court, Queen Street (erected November 1989)
Thomas Clarkson was born in 1864 and was a manufacturer of some of the first steam omnibuses in the country.
He ran a number of successful steam car companies, first in London and then in Chelmsford in 1903. Clarkson also designed a steam bus for Torquay as he was the managing director for another company (Clarkson and Capel Steam Car Syndicate). The first buses were made in Chelmsford and given the name of the town to signify this. Later this name was changed to Clarkson.
Clarkson founded the National Steam Car Company in 1909. The firm ran a fleet of steam omnibuses which operated services in London, in competition with the London General Omnibus Co.
By 1914, the company had 193 steam buses in London and Chelmsford. By 1929, Clarkson founded the Eastern National Omnibus Company, which ran until the 1990s. However, in the inter-war period, these buses were only seen on rural routes.
In 1920, the directors of the company decided the future was in petrol engines in preference to steam. Clarkson resigned from his position on the board but continued to develop his steam transport ideas on his own.
By 1930, the two competing railway companies had joined forces together with Clarkson’s original company to form the Eastern National Omnibus Company. This ran until the 1990s.