The London Bus Page In Exile

Sunday 21 January 2007

Random Routes – 219

Filed under: Historical, Service Changes, Travels — londonbuspageinexile @ 12:33 pm

London General Dennis Dart SLF LDP 134 (Y834 TGH) at Clapham Junction, Saturday 20th January 2007In the absence of much going on at the moment, not to mention the weather getting in the way of any serious forays, I’ve decided to institute a new piece concentrating on routes; a bit of history, a current vehicle used and so on. Today’s features the 219, which was one of the only routes I got a decent picture of while out in south-west London yesterday.
The 219 is one of those routes that has migrated away from its original geographic area since introduction; in this case it was created to fuse the ends of two crew routes and save just that little bit of money on a few conductors’ wages. The routes in question were the 19 and 88; when introduced on 21st November 1987, the 219, in its path from Sloane Square to Mitcham allowed the 19 to fall back from Tooting Bec to Clapham Junction and the 88 from Mitcham to Tooting Broadway. Merton DMSs were in charge.
On 17th June 1989 an alteration to the northern end was made to the 219 with its re-routeing to terminate at South Kensington, but the Wandsworth area scheme of 25th May 1991 restored the Sloane Square section to allow another new route (349) to pick up the South Ken section. At the southern end, the Mitcham segment was diverted at Tooting to Colliers Wood, allowing the service to terminate outside its home garage. By this time Ms had replaced most of Merton’s DMSs, with the last Fleetline moving on in January 1992.
However, unrelated problems began to retract the 219 from its cross-river remit; Battersea Bridge was hit by a careless freighter and closed for much of 1992, forcing all routes to cross via Chelsea Bridge or terminate short. When the bridge re-opened on 7th February 1993 the change was made permanent, with the 219 falling back to Battersea and the emphasis given to new route 319, introduced on that day. It wasn’t long, therefore, before the route was pulled back still further to Clapham Junction (14th January 1995) and the inevitable minibuses introduced (30th June 1996), though in this case the route had declined to a secondary status and its Metrobuses were reallocated to the far more important task of restoring an upper deck to the 155. Merton’s mixed fleet of Darts (DRs and DWs, later joined by DRLs and DPLs) continued to ply between Clapham Junction and Tooting Broadway (the Colliers Wood leg coming off with the single-decking). The crowding with buses of the stand at Longmead Road has never thrilled residents of this street, however, and the 219 was extended to St George’s Hospital on 12th December 1998 – but the most important change to affect the 219 occurred on 29th May 1999 when it was extended over the 155 to Wimbledon, acknowledging finally the timetable-destroying congestion suffered along the Clapham Road.
Low-floor buses appeared in 1999 in the form of LDP-class Dennis Dart SLFs with Plaxton Pointer 2 bodywork, and thus has been the case ever since, with the various batches taken by London General (as superseded London Buses Limited in 1994) co-existing peacefully at Merton despite differing numbers of doors and engine specifications. Today you’re likely to find the extra-long Pointer Dart variety holding the fort, exemplified by 10.7-metre LDP 134 (Y834 TGH) at Clapham Junction on 20th January 2007. These buses were bought to try and make single-deck operation viable on the 155 for a second time, but any passenger of this still-important service would tell you that was never going to work, and indeed the 155 is now double-deck again with PVLs.


  1. Introduced 21.11.87 not 5.11.87.

    Comment by Darius — Tuesday 23 January 2007 @ 8:31 am

  2. Corrected – thanks for that!

    Any other corrections to dates and things, please shout.

    Comment by londonbuspageinexile — Tuesday 23 January 2007 @ 7:21 pm

  3. Those 10.7m Darts are without doubt the worst buses I have ever driven. Even when they were new they had the worst braking and the roughest acceleration of any buses in the garage.

    Probably my favourite route in it’s current form, out of my home garage. Nice people, with a little bit of appreciation for the driver. A rare thing in London today.

    Comment by Dave. (Admits to being a Bus Driver in London) — Wednesday 24 January 2007 @ 10:34 pm

  4. Except for when Ernest Bevin School kicks out at 3.20ish eh. I used to use the 219 every day when I went there (and what a horrid school it was) when the 219 was run by M’s.

    Comment by Russell — Sunday 28 January 2007 @ 12:44 am

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