The London Bus Page In Exile

Thursday 22 March 2007

VNs Survive!

Filed under: Historical, Travels, Vehicles — londonbuspageinexile @ 8:13 pm

Solent Blue Line Volvo B10B 630 (K130 BUD) in Southampton, 11th March 2006Not so very long ago I talked about the LV-class Dennis Lances, one of the types ordered when full-size single-decker chassis came back into fashion briefly in 1992-1994. Dennis wasn’t the only chassis the dying London Buses Limited was experimenting with, as they took thirteen Volvo B10Bs as well; the VN class came adorned with Northern Counties Paladin bodywork of a taller and wider variety than hitherto seen on Darts and Lances.
Less than a year after its OPO conversion that capped a long decline from what used to be a long and busy trunk route in and out of town into a stub of a route, the 88 at Stockwell (London General subsidiary) was selected for conversion from M to VN operation, and the thirteen B10Bs duly entered serivce on 15th May 1993. VN 1-13 were adorned with personalised registrations that immortalised London General’s managing director of the time, Keith Ludeman (since gone on to bigger and better things after London General fell within the Go-Ahead Group), and an effort was made to personalise the buses themselves with a ‘The Clapham Omnibus’ motif to the London General house style.
Unfortunately, single-deckers just don’t work on trunk routes, but London Buses kept making the same mistakes that LT had with Merlins and Swifts and that their successors are making with artics. In the case of the 88, it wasn’t the reduced capacity that did for the VNs, but the excessive length of the vehicles, which was causing them difficulties in the narrow streets around Millbank where the Tate Gallery is. In 1997 they were removed from the 88 and replaced by returning Ms, which were really starting to knock on by then!
Off they went to Oxford, now a fellow Go-Ahead company, where the smart livery and commonality of purpose with a large number of existing B10Bs in the fleet ensured them a long career, and it is only recently that the input of Citaros into Oxford has caused them to move on again, this time to Southampton where they operate for Solent Blue Line on the key route 1 into Winchester.
Upon their exit from London they lost their K-KLL marks (where have those gone, if anyone fancies perusing the RAC and AA websites) and gained contemporary Oxford plates K118-130 BUD. Hence what is now Solent Blue Line 630 (K130 BUD), seen in Southampton on 11th March 2006, was once VN 13 and spent the middle of its career as City of OXford 656.

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