The page for enthusiasts in the Oxford Chilterns Area - News from you and news for you - pictures too  ~~~~   The page for enthusiasts in the Oxford Chilterns Area - News from you and news for you - pictures too  ~~~~   The page for enthusiasts in the Oxford Chilterns Area - News from you and news for you - pictures too  

Issue 107

Sunday 12th December 2004
next update week ending 26th December 2004

Please note that any comments made in this news page are those of the Editors' and in no way constitute 
any official points of view from the bus companies mentioned,  or indeed any other official body. 
As a news page we reserve the right to make valid comments as seen from an editorial point of view.

If you wish to be included on a mailing list where I will advise of any mid-week news please let me know

Contributions this week have exceeded all expectations and have included a large number of photos. I was very pleased since I was in Germany this last week until Saturday and there was little or no opportunity for photography.

One major event which occurred this last week in Oxford was a fire in Queen Street. Ralph Adams reported "There was a fire this morning (Saturday 11th December) at 5.00 on the floor above Co-operative Bank. As a result Queen Street has been closed all day and all buses have been picking up in St Aldates. There are no stops with each bus trying to get as near to Carfax as possible and all passengers have had to be observant to see what bus is arriving and where it stops.

There have been discussions over the years of making Queen St a pedestrian only road but today has shown there is not enough space in St Aldates, especially with many private cars also using the road. Further problems caused by one car with a blue disabled badge being left outside the Town Hall for over 3 hours (maximum permitted is 3 hours) as the east traffic had to go into the middle which was also used by all traffic moving towards Carfax. 

The controllers of both companies did a very good job working together at keeping the traffic moving.

Queen Street was closed to traffic, especially buses, on Saturday 11th December causing delays and problems for bus services.
Martyn Banham took the picture.

Martyn Banham was also on hand with his camera and captured the scene to perfection.

There is a significant article in today's Sunday Telegraph relating to the use of wheel chair accessible coaches on PSV services for schools. The article states that when an operator is using newer than 2000 coaches on school service these coaches must be fully DPTAC compliant. Coaches older than 2000 do not need to comply and some suggestion is made that operators may be obliged to use older coaches or face high costs for conversion and updating.

Whilst it states that at present there are no suitable "coaches" which are compliant it also mentions the high cost of modification to the National Express Volvos used on the Bath service from Victoria, saying that for the few times these coaches have seen the use of the equipment, each passenger has cost about £7000. Interestingly no mention is made of The Oxford Tube coaches, all 25 of which are fully wheel chair compliant.

One thing which is clear, is the fact that the law is not universally known and there is much confusion in the minds of the public and maybe even some operators. However I am sure one of my readers is going to clarify matters in time for next week's page?

Rob Williams  writes regarding the picture of the blue Ford minibus on last week's page "The 8A is operated by RH Transport, the company taking over the X8 from Stagecoach and the Charlbury Taxibus from Worth's from 12th December."

Mike Penn sent this picture of XTC684 mentioned on last week's page.
It is photographed in the yard of Buckmaster coaches, Leighton Buzzard
on March 18th 1973, some four years after it had been withdrawn from service.

Gavin Francis wrotes "In the last newsletter you asked for information on XTC684. You may be surprised that this bus used to be kept at Radnage. I have attached a pic of it in the barn taken in October 1974. It was owned by The Chiltern Omnibus Group who also had the Dennis pictured. They had bought it from Buckmaster at Leighton Buzzard. I don't think any real work was done on it and it has passed through a few owners since then. It quite often comes up in Buses magazine."

Gavin Francis took this picture of XTC684 many years in Radnage.

"As for the RT. The owner of that still lives in Stokenchurch and apparently works on The Oxford Tube. !!  although the bus is long gone. I saw it last year in Binders Yard and I think a group based in Wealdstone now own it.

Can't tell you much more about XTC684. To get to the driving seat you had to walk through the lower deck and open a sliding door on the bulkhead. There was no drivers door. The engine was behind the rear platform. I sat in the drivers seat a few times and it must have been a bit like an old LT CR class. As I said it has been in Buses a couple of times recently and a lot of info was in the articles."

Geoff Cunliffe also wrote re this bus saying "With reference to last week’s Web Page and the request for information from Jimmy Rankin, perhaps he does not know that there is a fair amount of information about its history, and that of sister STF90, in “The Leyland Bus” written by Doug Jack some years ago. Pages 231-2 of the first edition are mostly concerned with STF90 but make reference to XTC684. Pages 246-8 of the second edition, “The Leyland Bus Mk II”, has more information about both and a photo of XTC684 which is not in the first edition.

Should Mr. Rankin not have access to the book, I could scan the pages from mine for him.

After its revenue earning service, it finished up back at Leyland and hung around the British Commercial Vehicle Museum there, although I don’t think it was an official exhibit. A friend of mine organised it to attend a meeting of the North-West branch of the Historic Commercial Vehicle Society, when that branch existed, and we all had a good play with it! The vehicle attended the 40th. anniversary rally of the Leyland Atlantean in 1998 at Leyland, with several broken windows and needing quite a bit of TLC. It was, presumably, after that that it departed for Scotland.

I have been lucky enough to see the vehicle several times from when it was new until that last sighting in 1998. I am pleased it still exists – it really was a milestone and it is such a shame that STF90 has not survived."

(Re STF90 - I remember this bus new when it worked on demonstration to north Western around Manchester. Then later we had a tour on it for the PSV Circle in Manchester. By this time it was with Strowgers of Manchester. We were even pulled over by the police as it was smoking so badly !! Ed.)

Stephen Le Bras wrote regarding a photo on last week's page saying "Nice to see a Leyland PD1 from my home town. No excuse for that."

Both Stephen and Rob Williams note re my sighting of Y241KJM, that this was one of two Van Hool bodied DAF's which Reading Buses used on the Reading- Gatwick service (overnight) for Thames Trains. Y241/2KJM left the Reading fleet back in April.

Jason Brown writes "I was happy to find the cyclemas tree in google's cache, which I helped push around the streets of Oxford. (I'm the one with the white stripe on the sole my my trainer, towards the bottom right of the picture, obscured by scaffolding). I wondered if you preserve these pages (for when google's cache disappears) and if so, where I might find a permanent URL for this page?  Jason there is an archive page which can be accessed at ""

This page is updated each week.

Another picture of the cyclemas tree has emerged from my correspondents, this time Martyn Banham and this shows it in its permanent location.

The tree is not at the back of Gloucester Green coach station and is seen with a Stagecoach bus as a background.

Paul Green wrote with a few corrections to last week's page which are much appreciated. Paul says "Just a couple of corrections to your bus page. The correct name of the Witney coach company is McLeans. I think perhaps you were brushing your teeth at the time you typed McCleans. Also, the Prestwood Travel / Abbey Coaches Dominator never actually operated for Brighton & Hove. I also drove these four vehicles whilst with Brighton Blue Bus. They passed to Bullocks in 1996 a year before Brighton & Hove took over and were disposed of due to their higher engineering costs as compared to the Leyland Atlanteans which still former the backbone of the Blue Bus double deck fleet at that time. I know that this is out of your remit, but I have lost track of sister C720NCD and would be grateful of any new of its continued existence. Talking of Brighton & Hove, it is interesting that Bristol VRs JWV272W and JWV273W are both still active in your area, the former with Taylor's of Aylesbury and the second with Woottens."

Many thanks to Paul for those interesting notes and I really must not clean my teeth when preparing the page!!!

In the High Wycombe area the Bucks Free Press carries an article on the proposed bus-coach interchange at Handy Cross which is on Junction 4 of the M40. The paper mentions the 575 National Express service as being the only NEx service to call at high Wycombe but such an interchange would make a lot of extra potential traffic as many express services now use the M40. Included in these must be the Oxford-London and airport services and one hopes that this plan comes to fruition as it makes a great deal of sense. It is stated that car parking facilities will be available and one waits with interest for the next developments.

And before anyone asks or comments, the paper did say the 575, interestingly as the service was the 75 in Premier Coaches days.

On a personal note this last week saw me on a day trip to Zurich where Evobus have a facility close to the airport. I took a few pictures and hope you find them of interest.

A Cito is flanked by two Citaros at Evobus near Zurich Kloten.
The last driver on one of the Citaros may have had radishes for lunch !!

Three Citos await a new owner having previously worked for Basle Transport.
An interesting link can be found at

The interior of a Cito which has only 12 seats but much in common with the Citaro.

Now on to this week's News and photos. Thank you to everyone who has contributed.

Malcolm Crowe - Sunday 12th December 2004

Visit the "OXFORD BUS PAGE" Archive 1998 - 2002

Visit the "OXFORD & CHILTERN BUS PAGE " Archives from October 2002

News of the local companies – 12th December 2004

Abingdon Bus Co 

David Nutton wrote that "At Didcot station this Weds (24th) I saw a Dennis Dart of this company who I have not heard of before. Reg is T831PNF with Plaxton Pointer body. Legal lettering was Abingdon Bus Co, Unit7, Radley Ind Est, Abingdon. According to the timetable at the bus stop they run Routes 94 & 95 from Didcot."

The picture of the Bristol by john Bristow evoked memories for some of you. Nigel Peach writes "It was good to see John Bristow's 1960 photo of Bristol LS 679 (HBL81) on last week's page. It certainly brought back memories. In the mid 60s there were four of that batch in High Wycombe (678-681). Two would run the 35 to Downley and I think the others were usually to be found on the 31 to Lacey Green (long before today's Green Route all-new 31!). At the time I lived on West Wycombe Road opposite the turning to Downley (Plomer Hill) and even from my bed, at one time I used to be able to recognise each individual bus either by the engine noise or the squeak of the brakes!! Although these were front entrance buses, they always had a conductor, and were not converted to one-person operation until some years later."

Ed Maun wrote further saying "Many thanks for this week’s news page (106) and the evocative picture of the Thames valley bus on the Downley service in 1960.   679 (HBL81) was Thames Valley’s third Bristol LS6G single decker and had an ECW B45F body.   I believe it was Wycombe depot’s first LS bus (no doubt someone will correct me if my memory has failed) and was normally used on the Wycombe to Reading service 28 when new.   This picture was taken some 7 years into its service life with TV and it looks a little battered by the entrance door!   When new the fog light was in the middle of the front panel between the two access flaps.   You can see where its “hole” has been panelled over.   All the LS single deckers had the fog light moved to the nearside corner when 2 or 3 years old.   Note also that front dash fleet numbers have been introduced painted  white but the number by the entrance door is still black!   It also has the later smaller and un-shaded fleet name and the cream band is no longer lined in black. Interestingly it still has a full destination blind display.    At a later date this bus was re-seated to B41F for OMO duties.    This bus survived with TV to be renumbered 102 in the new 1968/1969 renumbering scheme but didn’t survive to be transferred to Alder Valley as it was withdrawn in 1971.   An 18 year career with one bus company was quite an achievement in those days!"

Gavin Francis provided this fine shot of 5851 in Wycombe.

Another Gavin Francis shot, this time of 3116 wishing us all season greetings.

Mike Penn writes "You also mentioned Arriva The Shires Carlyle bodied Darts 3094 and 3098.  Of  these 3094 is now at Luton."

Steve Warwick writes with details of changes to ticketing on Arriva and the use of MAG CARDS, sending this picture.

Martyn Banham wrote regarding renumbering saying "Sorry to keep you - but I was looking through Issue 96, and saw a question that I now have the answer to the question was "Why has E225CFC been renumbered to 5881?" on appearing at Showbus with Southend blinds.

Answer: E225CFC and E228CFC now both with Southend - so to keep things simple, E228CFC keeps its number 5882, which won't clash with anything in Southend, and E225 gets the adjacent number, 5881, to keep the vehicles together numerically."

Nigel Peach adds "Further to Alex's comments last week about the blinds in the ex London Darts, I notice that both 3812 and 3814 are able to show route 31 (and can often be found on that route). Both these buses had been withdrawn from service but were reinstated. This seemed to occur at the same time that sister vehicles 3813 and 3815 disappeared. 3811 is the only other bus from the same batch still in Wycombe and, as Alex said, this doesn't appear to have had new blinds fitted.

One of the Scanias - I think it is 3158, now sports an all over rear ad for Lakes, the electrical retailer. The last bus to have an all over ad for Lakes was, by coincidence, Dart 3811 mentioned above!"

As I have not been Oxford for the past week I have no items to add for this company. However much to my surprise neither has anyone else.

Jeffs of Helmdon

John Bristow writes "I note the piece on Jeffs Coaches in your latest newsletter and attach pic taken at Northampton on 29 August 1970
of a rather smart Bedford SB owned by Jeffs.  Some friends and I spent that day travelling on independent routes in the Banbury/Northampton area"

Red Rose of Aylesbury

Adrian noted MB709D/UVG CitiStar N802GRV on the 275 last week.

This week my mail has been full of news regarding the arrival of the five Manchester Tridents for use on Brookes. News has included pictures of some of these buses.

Rob Williams corrects my note that the previously reported Manchester Tridents come from Manchester's Stockport depot not Hyde Road. Also to his knowledge they were never intended for London. (I took that info from the 2004 Stagecoach Bus Handbook. Ed.)

Rob goes on to say "18177-81 are now at Oxford, and at least 18178/9 were in service on the U5 this evening. 9/12"

Martyn Banham then mentions also sending pictures "I have a fair few this week for your viewing. Firstly, the Tridents on loan from Manchester entered service today (9th), I managed to get a photo of 18180/MX54LPC, complete with "Stagecoach in Manchester" vinyls and BrookesBus logos.

Martyn Banham's picture of 18080 on the U1 complete with Manchester logos plus Brookes.

Martyn Banham adds "Some success today (Saturday 11th December) - the chaos caused by an incident in Queen Street (that road was blocked off -  meant slow moving vehicles - a perfect photo opportunity.

So - adding to the picture of 18180/MX54LPC are: 18178 MX04XFW (note its different blinds) and 18181/MX54LPE. Also seen, but didn't get a good enough photo of - 18179/MX54LPA. I have yet to see the 5th one, if it has been in service.

Many oddities out and about - 34466/KV53NHA on 3 road and 28020/P280GNC on the 7B.

With Stagecoach about to takeover the 5A/B/C a Dart/ALX200 has appeared with a purple route-branding, sadly my photo didn't quite come out.

Finally - it seems 16524/R424XFC made a quick trip to the paintshop - now sporting a mega rear. Notice it reads "Southend-on-Sea" on the bumper - the link between it and Oxford grows ever stronger!!


Chris Gascoyne writes "18180 did the 14:25 U5 from Wheatley yesterday (Thurs). 18179, 18181 and 18178 were all out on the U5 as well, only one not seen was 18177. I believe this was the first day of operation, some Olympians were also out though (at least in the morning). Judging on the interior of 18180 upstairs, you can certainly tell where its come from!!

What's the plan with the Olympians now? Bar 16518/9 are the rest remaining in Oxford on other routes/reserve?

Vikki Lee wrote "Didn't have time to mention this last night but 18181 MX54LPE was on the U5 at lunchtime on Thurs - seen in Speedwell St "

Martyn Banham writes "Lastly - seen on the X6 on Wednesday is 52162 L162JNH, with the driver obeying the latest road legislation.
Not being too familiar with the wider-bus scene, I am unsure as to this vehicles allocation."

Martyn also sent this picture with caption "A fun shot - taken just before leaving for Paris: 3 Oxford Tube
Neoplans, end-to-end, on Buckingham Palace Road, near Victoria Coach
station. The middle one is 50108 - as for the others, well...."

Tappins of Didcot.

Martyn Banham writes "Whilst out and about Wednesday, I spotted a whole convey of coaches
filled with school-children, creeping through the city centre.
Of particular interest were the Tappins Neoplan IIL1832 and the pair of
Tourex (I think) Tiger/Marshalls, A49VDE and A359TBW. Apparently capable of seating 70 - a tight fit!"


Worth's of Enstone

Martyn Banham was busy with his camera and caught one of the last working of Worth's on the 70 when ex COMS 216 worked services on Saturday 11th December, probably one of the last journeys by this historic operator.

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