March 2016 Speaker
Members were asked to raise their hands if they had never been on a day trip or break with Lodge Coaches. About 15 of the 107 people present raised their hands and the Speaker Secretary then introduced the day’s speaker - Robert Lodge, grandson of the founder, Joe Lodge, of Lodge Coaches Ltd. Robert illustrated his talk with slides, some of them from the early part of the last century showing very rural scenes of High Easter with a number of structures no longer in existence such as a post windmill and various shops and pubs.
Joe , after service in the Cavalry Regiment during the first World War, came out and started running a bus service to Chelmsford for both passengers and freight, with a model T truck, this was supplemented with taxis as well. His first new coach was a 1930 Bedford. After World War Two, bus timetables were introduced and fruit was sold from the bus stop in High Easter. He managed to squeeze 26 people into a coach.
The business expanded after 1945 in many ways. Over the last 15 years the coaches have many times been used for scenes in films such as Fools and Horses, as the company has purchased and restored many vintage coaches in their work shop. The expansion has led to the company having had three sites over the years – all in High Easter. It has led to 12 double-deckers being purchased for school runs and the coaches used for day trips and longer breaks (except for vintage days out) are now all Mercedes vehicles at a cost of £250,000 each, all equipped with the most sophisticated safety devices. After questions from the audience Robert was given an enthusiastic ovation from members.