The London Bus Page In Exile

Friday 21 September 2007

Showbus 2007, part 3

Filed under: Companies, Special Events, Vehicles — londonbuspageinexile @ 6:52 pm

Three Stagecoach Cambus Enviro400s at Showbus, 16 September 2007)

I’m a fan neither of route branding (tacky, patronising, impractical) nor of the Enviro400 (dull, dull, dull), but this Stagecoach Cambus trio manage to make both look really good. The last set of schemes for the Cambridge Park & Ride was pretty decent as well, and Ray Stenning’s taken care to adapt the new version to the lines of the bus.
From left to right are 19298 (AE07 KYY), 19314 (AE07 KZR) and 19302 (AE07 KZC).


Thursday 20 September 2007

Showbus 2007, part 2

Filed under: Companies, Historical, Special Events — londonbuspageinexile @ 7:11 pm

Transdev Keighley & District Volvo B7TL 2701 (Y701 HRN) at Showbus, 16 September 2007Blazefield was an outfit that knew what it was doing – elegant liveries, decent blinds (look how they’ve actually used all the wasted space!) and competent buses. Transdev, who took over their operations a while ago, haven’t damaged them too badly, so far sticking to a plain fleetname. Keighley & District Volvo B7TL 2701 (Y701 HRN) demonstrates.

Wednesday 19 September 2007

Showbus 2007, part 1

Filed under: Historical, Special Events — londonbuspageinexile @ 5:58 pm

Preserved WMPTE MCW Metrobus 6832 (SDA 832S) at Showbus, 16 September 2007 A superb day – wall-to-wall sunshine (sufficient to cause sunburn!), not a hint of rain and perhaps a few buses less this year, making it easier to photograph throughout the enormous expanse of Duxford.

This is West Midlands PTE MCW Metrobus 6832 (SDA 832S), forerunner of the second-biggest fleet of Metrobuses outside London Transport. It’s been restored to the original livery, based loosely on Birmingham City’s colours, but unfortunately, due to the lack of imagination in legislation, the registration number characters are incorrect.

More Showbus a little later.

Monday 4 June 2007

Last of the Merlins

Filed under: Special Events, Vehicles — londonbuspageinexile @ 6:42 pm

Preserved AEC Merlin MB 641 (AML 641H) at London Colney, 20 May 2007 Like the DMS, the Merlin was another grand failure of its time that only now is starting to be appreciated as their rarity value grows. All buses, whatever their reputation, should have at least one example in preservation so that people of today can see what they were like.

MB 641 (AML 641H) has been in preservation for some years, after the typically short career spanning just seven years between 1969 and 1976. Though now immortalised as a Potters Bar bus, it never worked from there, seeing service at Bromley (routes 126 and 138), Merton (152), Walthamstow (275) and Cricklewood (268). The 84 did see MB operation for a spell, so the depiction is theoretically correct.

It was working shorts on the 84 during the Potters Bar running day of Sunday 20th May, and performed competently throughout. The seating capacity is impressive by comparison with today’s full-size buses (50 are seated in this single-door bus) and the Merlins in general were always attractive, with a clear physical lineage to the RFs of two decades earlier – except in conditions other than Red Arrow standee services, they didn’t work. Then and now, Londoners don’t like to be treated like automatons, and accordingly refused to get to grips with the automatic fare systems provided, and nor did they ever appreciate standing. Just like the modern incumbents on today’s Red Arrow routes, the Merlins worked there perfectly but nowhere else. At least back then the powers of the day knew when to admit they were wrong, and replaced the vehicles as soon as they could without feeling they had to save face. We’re still waiting for the same courtesy from today’s lot…

Very few Merlins (or Swifts, for that matter) are left at all, and MB 641 is the only one people can really ride on when the event warrants. Despite the spiteful and narrow-minded legislation that is the Low Emissions Zone, they just escape the ban and can still run into town. Thanks to Brian Nash for turning out MB 641 on the 84 that day, and to all who brought their buses to Potters Bar – it was a good day out!

Sunday 29 April 2007


Filed under: Companies, Special Events, Travels — londonbuspageinexile @ 12:41 pm

Chase Bus Services Leyland Nationals LS 193 (THX 193S) and LS 209 (THX 209S) at Walsall bus station, 28th April 2007 Chase Bus Services Leyland National LS 382 (BYW 382V) near Walsall, 28th April 2007 Chase Bus Services Leyland National SNB 448 (YPL 448T) at Walsall, 28th April 2007
No, not Leeds – though anybody who knows me would sympathise with (or mock) my other affliction. To take my mind off the inevitable I made my way to Walsall to cover the last day of Chase Bus Services. This independent operator had made itself a name by continuing to operate a large fleet of Leyland Nationals into their thirties, proving that the type was worth its weight in gold after all.

With only comparatively minimal alterations (a new set of headlights here, a refurbished engine there, plus conversions to single-door carried out by previous owners and new seat cushions over the existing frames), the two dozen Nationals, most of which derived from London Transport, held together the handful of routes emanating from Walsall’s futuristic-appearing but terribly cramped bus station to points north like Brownhills and Bloxwich. Following the takeover by Arriva on 26th February, today was chosen to be the last day of the Nationals, as Arriva-liveried vehicles were to be seconded from other parts of the empire. Drivers had already settled into their Arriva uniforms, Arriva posters had gone up inside the vehicles and with the end of the Nationals, so would depart the Chase identity and the distinctive white, orange and brown livery.

However, a twist developed (don’t they always with ‘last’ days?) in that the adverts applied to several of the Nationals have yet to expire, so a half-measure has been taken by applying Arriva livery to the fronts of the buses affected, about six or seven of them. To show you what I mean, pictured top left is duplicate LS 193 (THX 193S) in the GM Buses-inspired livery (with rear ad) passing Arriva-fronted LS 209 (THX 209S) outside Walsall bus station. The duplicate followed Chase’s routes and then posed for photographers inside the Cannock depot. A special £5 commemorative ticket was offered, which gave travel on the company’s buses throughout the day.

Pictured middle is another of their ex-LT Nationals, LS 382 (BYW 382V) speeding towards Walsall from Brownhills via the Lichfield Road. And on the right, returning to the town centre is former London Country B-series National SNB 448 (YPL 448T).
Photographers from far and wide made the trip, and you can see their accounts of the day here (Omnibuses), here (Martin Ruthe), here (Dave Heath) here (Terry Wong Min) and here (Jimmy Sheng).

So just as Leeds may yet survive if we put ten past Derby and Hull lose (it may happen!) the Nationals live on a little longer. All are to be sold through auction on 19th May (Nationals, not Leeds players, though which will fetch more is open to opinion…). Thanks to Chase Arriva Midlands, as I must call them now, for putting on an enjoyable day.

Sunday 15 April 2007

Carshalton Running Day

Filed under: Special Events, Vehicles — londonbuspageinexile @ 8:55 pm

Another of the themed running days in the style of Hackney was held today, this time based on Carshalton. And what a perfect day to have it – wall-to-wall sunshine, all the better to see, photograph and ride on loads of classic buses.

Carshalton depot RT 604 and RT 3871 at Wallington RF 406 at Sutton garage

Carshalton trolleybus depot closed in 1959, having operated just route 654; this became the 154 we know today, and with an accompanying extension of the 157 each successor route has been altered comparatively little. Accordingly, the main effort of the preserved buses was on the 154, with an extra as a 654 – this was RM 938 (WLT 938). It is seen reversing into Carshalton depot – intact and in the possession of Access Self Storage, who are to be thanked for permitting a small display on their premises.

At Wallington, Shotfield a number of routes turned around; here we see red and green in the personas of RT 604 (HLX 421) and RT 3871 (LLU 670). The former bus has been famous for thirty years as the last RT with London Country, and it shows that the little-loved NBC leaf green livery can actually look good when on a synpathetic host.

Finally for today, Sutton garage was also a hub for today’s widespread operations. RF 406 (MXX 294), a former Sutton bus itself, arrives on the 213, which was single-deck for longer than it needed to be until the lowering of Worcester Park station bridge permitted its double-decking.

Thanks to all concerned for putting on such a superb running day! Visit the Red RF homepage here.

Thursday 12 April 2007

Longcross 3 – Smashing Veterans!

Filed under: Companies, Historical, Special Events, Vehicles — londonbuspageinexile @ 7:56 pm

Southdown and Southern Vectis vintage buses at Longcross, 1st April 2007 Isn’t this what buses should look like?

Examples of Southdown and Southern Vectis pre-war machines in classic liveries parade at the other end of the Longcross complex. The Southdown motor is 873 (UF 6473), an all-Leyland TD1 of 1931, while the Southern Vectis bus is 502 (CDL 899), a 1939 Bristol K5G whose ECW body was converted to open-top circa 1958.

Monday 2 April 2007

Longcross 2 – DM 2646 Returns!

Filed under: Special Events, Vehicles — londonbuspageinexile @ 7:47 pm

Preserved Ensignbus Leyland Fleetline DM 2646 (THX 646S) at Longcross, 1st April 2007 Another picture from Longcross is of DM 2646 (THX 646S) – the superbly restored last of the DMS-type Daimler Fleetlines. If just one of the much-maligned B20s could be saved, this was the one, and Ensignbus have done a terrific job returning it to the Shillibeer livery which it wore in 1979.

Poor old DMSs – nobody liked them (neither passengers nor engineers), the majority completed less than seven years service each (the length of a Certificate of Fitness in those days) and only the B20s accomplished anything close to a decent innings, perhaps due to the fact that absolutely nobody would buy them! I grew up with the things – my school journey was on the 93, a route introduced to crew DMs on 4th September 1982 and converted to OPO the following 23rd April, on which date the 80 was extended up from Morden to support it. Never once did they give me any trouble, while quite a few Ms and Ts broke down while I was travelling on them…

This bus’s career, in fact, would end on the 93; after its period in Shillibeer colours (during which it was advertising the Leyland products of the time, the National and Titan), it moved to Stockwell and then to Sutton, where it spent its last six years (as D 2646), four of which were spent with an Iveco engine like the rest of the garage’s DMS fleet. It was Sutton’s last Fleetline, seen working the 93 on 19th June 1992. A spell with Haven Coaches followed before a formal decision was made to preserve it, but it wasn’t until this year that its transformation into Shillibeer glory was complete. And under the distinctive, dual-chimneyed bonnet, a Leyland engine beats once more.

With contemporary adverts all re-created to complete its period look, DM 2646 is seen working the 448 shuttle service to and from Woking station.

Sunday 1 April 2007

Longcross 1

Filed under: Book, Special Events, Vehicles — londonbuspageinexile @ 8:11 pm

Preserved Leyland Titan T 6 (WYV 6T) at Longcross, 1st April 2007Thanks to all who bought Routemaster Retrospective today at Longcross – me and Geoff signed about forty copies and had a nice chat with plenty of you.

This picture shows what I’m doing next – a book to be entitled The London Titan, for publication this time next year. T 6 (WYV 6T) has been superbly preserved in original condition, with all the bits that disappeared over the years restored; foglights, decals, badges, opening windows, the lot.

More Cobham/Longcross photos to come over the next few days.

Thursday 8 February 2007

2006 In Review – GTL’s Last Titan Day

Filed under: Companies, Special Events, Travels, Vehicles — londonbuspageinexile @ 7:50 pm

This may be a London-oriented page, but I reserve the right to leave the crazy place behind once in a while and explore what else is to be found up and down the country. After all, the general consensus seems to be that right now London’s bus scene is at its very lowest ebb in terms of quality and appeal. Still, the cascade of vehicles out of the capital has led to them leading often more eventful (and certainly longer) lives in the provinces than they ever would have in London.
This time last year the rule of the Leyland Titan in Liverpool finally came to an end when GTL retired its last four serviceable examples amid ceremony on Saturday 4th February 2006. The Gillmoss garage that was separated from the old MTL North (formerly Merseybus) when Arriva bought the majority of the company had continued on as GTL (Glenvale Transport) and even found itself acquiring an equally sizeable neighbour, CMT, adopting that company’s all-red livery but maintaining the GTL tradition of naming buses after employees’ children or pets (which produced some wacky titles that were fun to collect!). However, in 2005 Stagecoach swept in and within six months the company was unrecognisable – out went all the ex-London Metrobuses and Titans, together with the motley collection of Dart and Volvo B6 single-decks scraped together from all over the place, and in their place came seventy new Dart SLFs. With Arriva and Stagecoach now effectively sharing Liverpool between them, the scene is considerably duller, but the Titans represented a more carefree sort of time. Liverpool’s certainly a nice surprise – friendly people, smashing buildings and certainly worth visiting.
GTL Leyland Titan 10850 (A850 SUL) at Liverpool Pier Head, 4th February 2006. From a peak of over 250 vehicles a decade ago, by February 2006 only four Titans were left – identified first by their Stagecoach numbers they were 10046 (WYV 46T – formerly 2046, T 46), 10337 (KYV 337X – 2337, T 337), 10624 (NUW 624Y – 2624, T 624) and 10850 (A850 SUL – 2850, T 850). Of this quartet only 10337 was red and had been converted to single-door. The latter two were comparatively recent arrivals from Stagecoach Selkent’s final clear-out in 2001, but T 46 had been one of the first Titans to leave London for Merseybus. Unfortunately, it proved unserviceable on the last day, so the farewell tour mounted by Gillmoss’s staff was led out by the other three. Joining for the day were a handful of other Titans, like T 1 from Stagecoach East London and 10698 (T 698) in Stagecoach corporate. T 910, preserved in London Transport condition, was also present, and of the non-Titan types you could see Atlanteans and even RML 2716. In this convoy a couple of dozen enthusiasts were taken round town over some of the numerous routes to have been operated by Liverpool’s Titans thirteen years of operation. The main picture shows a successful attempt to cram four of them into the width of the seafront road at New Brighton after a trip through the Mersey Tunnel, while the inset shows 10850 bringing up the rear of a static display at Pier Head.
A belated thanks to Gillmoss’s people for putting on the event – it was a lot of fun!

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