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  

News Page
Concessionary Travel, Buses in the Landscape, Running Days and Historical articles

Issue 280
Sunday 18th January 2009

(next update week ending 31st January 2009)

Now in our 11th year

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

Visit the "OXFORD BUS PAGE" Archive 1998 - 2002

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.

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Concessionary Travel, Buses in the Landscape, Running Days and Historical articles

A word from the Editor.

I am so very sorry if I have missed any contributions but in respect of this page I am trying to catch up on three months of e-mails and pictures. Do let me when you sent anything I have missed and I will then rectify this in the next issue.

Concessionary Travel by Stephen Le Bras

Saturday 29th  November

I was awoken by some of the first planes going overhead at 4.30am this morning- better than an alarm.

...... and so it was an early start on the 6.30am train to Slough to catch the First Bus 74 to High Wycombe of the day at 7.02am. This has been the red Citaro recently but for my trip it was the Southern Electric advert 34279. I grabbed the front n/s seat upstairs. We arrived in High Wycombe at 8am just in time for the driver to turn round and leave again.

Meanwhile I was off at 8.05 on Arriva 3196 on the 300 to Aylesbury- a comfortable Scania/NC saloon. Arriving at the underground bus station, it was straight on to Arriva 5156 - a NCME Palatine II bodied Volvo Olympian - on the 9am 280 departure to Oxford. I spent an hour at Oxford, snapping a car which went the wrong way UP Queen Street! Leaflets on bus shelters urged people to make their views on the proposed plan to pedestrianise Queen Street.

Then it was Thames Travel 357 on the X40 to Wallingford where the bus was subbed and we were put on to an already packed 108 to Reading. The only Omnicity 'decker was seen at Wokingham- they needed one or two on the X39/40.

I walked around to the 190 terminus at Reading and caught 60166 to Bracknell, picking up the new 701/2 t/t at the bus station. Then on a new Green Line 'decker - GL5 - on the 702 to Victoria and a copy of the new WR and SL timetable (dated 1/11/08) with details of a Boxing Day service on the 71 and 78.

Finally, off home on the same bus ! Good to see Scotch Corner is pretty much finished.

Saturday 3rd January 2009

I decided to head towards Oxford for part of Saturday 3/1/09. The other part of the day was spent getting caught up in the chaos which was London.

The trip started by using First Bus 71 to Slough and then the 75 to Heathrow Airport followed by the U3 to Uxbridge- bad choice as it takes 45 minutes and I only just caught the Carousel A40 to High Wycombe.

Arriving at High Wycombe (9.20), I had the choice of an Arriva 300 to Aylesbury which was due at 9.45 or the 737 to Oxford at 9.35. I opted for the 737 and asked the driver if he had any spare seats so that I could use my concessionary pass. He explained that HW-OX is no longer regarded as "free" and that I would have to pay £3.55 single. He was quite surprised when I said "yes", although I didn't have much change. One thing I did notice is that the luggage racks are not properly fixed and do rattle on these coaches.

Arriving in Oxford, I looked out for the Arriva Enviro 400s on the 280. We had passed one on the way inbound but photography options were few- you had light/gloom or gloom/light so 5439 was iffy and I walked off to Queen Street to snap  5434 inbound.

Travel from Oxford was 5434 on the 1108 from Queen Street to Aylesbury, another place where I walked round and gave up trying to snap a Citaro. Aylesbury to High Wycombe on the 300 (Citaro) then High Wycombe to Slough on Arriva 3137 a step height B6/Plaxton. That gave me five minutes to catch 20367 (the Green Line liveried B7/Plaxton) to Kensington High Street.

That was where my woes began as, with no buses going anywhere near Hyde Park Corner, I walked to Victoria Bullied Way past several hundred protestors who are making life difficult for locals and tourists alike.

A sighting of 3613 (a 27 route branded Scania/Wright) on the 757 and my first sighting of Arriva Green Line 4066 on the 797 (formally on the the 757) then off on a 702 which departing at 5.30pm called at Hyde Park Corner then took the A4 to the large Tesco at the C3 terminus before picking up some cold and miserable passengers at Hammersmith.

Oh for the brighter days!

Buses in the Landscape

A nice picture from Lenny Howard

Thought you might like this, How’s this for neat timing, this photo was shot in our region at High Wycombe, from a footbridge over the cutting, It shows 2 turbos passing each other with a Carousel Olympian on the Station Bridge, Photo can be seen on Http://


Christmas Eve near The Cenotaph, Whitehall by bob Stanger

I thought that the attached picture would be suitable for 'B in the L'.  It shows a Stagecoach Mercedes approaching the former colliery village of Evanstown in the South Wales valleys.  Perhaps the category should be 'Landscape with Bus'!

Keep up the good work.

Regards, John Bristow.

Picture by John Bristow

A seasonal picture from Graham Selway of an X1 on its way to Peterborough.

An interesting picture from the very end of last year by John Marsh.

Running Day in St Albans

Sunday 11th January dawned fine and sunny, hard to believe with the changeable weather we seem to be getting in this first month of 2009. Several readers sent me their picture from the St. Albans event and I was abl;e to pass through the main street on my 737 service to add a little top the day. Indeed someone must have taken my picture but so far none has appeared in my mail box.

From Doug Spencer.

The RT was running the 803 to Welwyn Garden City where it is seen above.
For some the T was the Star of the Show.

From Adam Green

The Midland Red was certainly a surprise.

From Colin Cooke


An old company in Woodcote from  Richard Hall 

I have just discovered my grand-uncle owned a local bus company in the Woodcote / Checkendon area of south Oxfordshire. I am told he sold his business to Kemps Buses not sure of dates but would be thinking about 1920's or 1930 or even later, would you have any information on any of  the buses or companies of the past?

By the way his name was Albert ( Bert ) Hall.

Shurey's Coaches from Simon Shurey

I'm wondering if you can help me, my name is Simon Shurey, my father's name was John Shurey, our family have lived at Park Corner, Nettlebed since the 1920's, and I'm certain we are related to the Shurey's Coaches, I am trying to find out as much as I can about the company. I came across your name under the Oxford Bus Page and wondered if you had any info or contacts that may help me.

Birch Brothers from Ian Williamson 

John Marshall’s photos of Centrebus vehicles operating in Meppershall reminded me that many years ago, most services in the area were operated by Birch Brothers Ltd.

In 1832 William Birch began operating horse cabs and by 1847 his widow joined the Westminster Omnibus Association, running services between Pimlico and Mansion House. By 1899 when the various family interests came together with the formation of Birch Bros Ltd, the company was involved in bus, taxi, Royal Mail and coachworks.

From the introduction of the motor bus in 1923, Birch expanded their London operations but competition from other operators, particularly the ‘General’ was intense. Realising the scope for further expansion in London was limited, the company began operating an express service to Bedford in 1928, extended the following year to Rushden and Kettering.

With the London operations passing to the newly formed London Passenger Transport Board on 21/2/1934, development of the provincial services became a priority and the London – Rushden service ran with an hourly frequency although with restrictions on fares and stopping points south of Welwyn to protect the competing Green Line services.

1937 and 1938 saw the acquisition of numerous operators in North Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire as a network was developed around the main Bedford route. Among the

Companies taken over were Pirton Dello, Sunbeam of Gravenhurst, Twydell and Crown Garage of Shillington  and their routes developed into services 209, 212, 213 and 225 serving Luton, Hitchin and Bedford. To support these increased operations the company opened a new ‘Art Deco’ style garage at Rushden and a rather more utilitarian garage at Henlow Camp.

Following the trials and tribulations of the Second World War, the company’s priority was to return the London- Bedford – Rushden service (now numbered 203) to an hourly frequency and develop the supporting network. These must have been difficult times for the company. In addition to shortages of vehicles, staff and materials, London Transport resisted most efforts to improve services and the threat of nationalization remained . The developing new towns of Stevenage, Welwyn Garden City and Hatfield were targets for growing passenger numbers and eventually WGC to Luton and Hitchin (204/5/6) and a Stevenage to Luton (215) service were allowed in 1955/6 although with various restrictions. However rural passenger numbers were already in decline and the Suez crisis made operation of these routes uneconomical. By 1958 the 204 ran only between Hitchin and Whitwell, the 205 between Luton and Kimpton and the 206 and 215 were abandoned. To the north of Hitchin, the 225 was incorporated into 209 and 213 covered by diverted 212.

Shortly after the opening of the M1 motorway in 1959, the 203M service was introduced running non stop between Ampthill and Barnet. The success of 203M saw a decline in the 203, with a reduction in frequency and journeys progressively being shortened to terminate at Hatfield Station, Welwyn Church and Hitchin.

On October 15th 1968 the depot at Henlow Camp closed leading to the withdrawal of the 204 (absorbed by LT’s 304), 209 (replaced by United Counties 89) and 212 (UC 146). The 205 had ceased in October 1965.

On September 14th 1969 operation of the 203 and 203M passed to United Counties, leaving Birch with only their London coach business which continued until late 1971 when it was purchased by George Ewer Ltd – better known today as part of the Arriva group.

Of the services pioneered by Birch Bros in North Herts. and South Beds., some can still be traced today:

203 Kings Cross – Welwyn – Hitchin – Bedford – Rushden

Centrebus 314 Welwyn – Hitchin

Stagecoach M1 Hitchin – Bedford

204 Hitchin – Whitwell – Welwyn Garden City

                   Uno 304  Hitchin - Whitwell – St Albans – Welham Green

          205 Luton – Kimpton - WGC

                   Centrebus 315 Kimpton - WGC

206 Luton – Bendish – WGC

209 Hitchin – Pirton – Henlow Camp

          Centrebus 89 Hitchin – Henlow Camp

212 Henlow Camp - Gravenhurst - Luton

          Centrebus 79 Luton - Gravenhurst

213 Gravenhurst – Bedford

215 Luton – Kimpton – Stevenage

          Centrebus 44 Luton – Kimpton – Stevenage

225 Hitchin – Henlow - Gravenhurst

The Editor's memory of Birch Brothers.

Living at the time in the north west of England and having only seen pictures of Birch Brothers buses, the full fronted deckers, I found myself at RAF Cardington in February 1958. As a regular, rather than a National Serviceman, I was allowed out of camp on the first night - a Monday - to visit Bedford. I was thus delighted to find that my transport from RAF Cardington to Bedford was a Birch Guy on the 203 coming through from London. Indeed the same type of bus was on the return journey but other memories are now somewhat hazy. I have never been a lover of the Guy mark and do remember the ride was rather rougher than an AEC or Leyland might have been.

I wonder, does anyone have any pictures of Birch from those, now, far off days?

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