Sunday 8th May 2005
next update week ending 20th May 2005
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Well, May really is here with our local beech woods have a carpet of bluebells and thankfully the nights are drawing out. this past week has been a pleasant one, if rather full of showers. some have been extremely heavy and on Saturday I had a very early duty with the 0410hrs departure from Gloucester Green. Even at this early hour on a Saturday there were still numerous people about and my passengers included a smart young man in a dinner suit. The London road at the time of the morning affords a clear run up to the capital and an on time arrival is easily secured. Whilst the sift starts in the late darkness, the dawn is soon in coming though the sun did not start to break through until I was well on my way back to Oxford. Before that there was a downpour and the roads in central London soon became flooded. What a mixture of weather to greet the new day.
The one nice thing about working so early is how clear the roads are and the seemingly inevitable traffic jam, which often starts even before Greenford on the way into London has yet to start. Well enough of my thoughts and on to your contributions.
An interesting Leyland National Greenway.
During Farnborough in 2002 I had the opportunity to drive an ex Red Arrow Greenway of London General and I thought what a nice bus these must have been when first converted from Leyland National II format. Although not a very fast bus, most of those in use would just about get to 38 mph, they were substantial and certainly were crowd shifters.
I was therefore pleasantly surprised to receive a picture from Daniel Stazicker, (Leyland National group Fleet news Editor) of ex LS499 the very one I had driven some three years ago. It is now a playbus and Daniel tells me "their Greenway kept on a very private site near Bicester - this is the new livery - it was all cream for ages."
Ex LS499 which is now a playbus and kept near Bicester.
You can feast your eyes on Leyland Nationals at the web site which is at http://www.leylandnationalgroup.org/
Last week I published a request from Fred Spresser of Thames Travel asking the following question.
Chiltern Queens - Golden Jubilee
2005 would have seen the 50th. anniversary of the formation of Chiltern Queens of Woodcote in Royal Berkshire. Unfortunately the “Throne” was abdicated before the Silver Jubilee could be celebrated.
At the recent Windsor/Slough Running Day to celebrate the 75th. anniversary of Green Line operation from there to London, a number of ex Chiltern Queens and/or present Thames Travel employees wondered if, how and when this anniversary could and should be celebrated.
It is known that a number of ex C. Q. vehicles are still in service with local operators and/or are preserved at The Oxford Bus Museum or in other locations.
If any one else thinks this event should be celebrated, and has any suggestions as to what form it could take, e.g. Static event, if so – where?, or a running day over former routes. If you are an owner of an ex C. Q vehicle, or knows anyone who is, or a former C. Q. employee with interesting memorabilia which could be displayed we would like to hear your comments.
Initial suggestions/comments should be made to Fred Spresser at Thames Travel, Wallingford on 01491 837 988 or 07771 800 701.
I am pleased that John Bristow came up with a lovely picture of a Chiltern Queens AEC Reliance LMO743. This I believe had the body from a Dennis Demonstrator and I also think one very similar was once in The Oxford Bus Museum? link - http://www.oxfordbusmuseum.org.uk/
LMO743, seen with Chiltern Queens in Watlington on the 11th November 1967 - photo John Bristow.
Traffic problems in Oxford last week
Kevin Stevens writes "...you may well be aware of the problems we experienced here in Oxford today 4th May. It started in in the early afternoon when a local operators single decker hit a white van which turned in front of him in Speedwell St and brought that area to a halt for about 30 mins. The temporary traffic lights in St Clements then failed just as rush hour started. It was taking coaches and buses up to an hour to get along the High St. I have enclosed a couple of photos I took from the top of my decker after the passengers and I got bored playing "I Spy" !!!"
Just the sort of problems no one needs in the rush hour. Photos by Kevin Stevens.
Historical reference in our area
Gavin Francis sent this picture of an RP AEC Reliance with Green Line.
RP2 taken at High Wycombe garage HW in July 1974 by Gavin Francis.
The 711 route to Reigate ran through central London and the whole route took around 3 hours to complete.
House of Watlington
Another operator from our area, not covered in these pages before, was House of Watlington. They operated a varied fleet of buses and coaches and had a fleet livery of black and orange. John Bristow sent two interesting pictures both taken on 11th November 1967.
The first is of a Commer Avenger with what I think is a Harrington body used on various chassis in the late '40s
and the second of a Bedford SB (8?) with Harrington Crusader mk 1 bodywork seating 41 and was new in 1960 to Grey Green.
My Ian Allan fleet book for London coach operators records nine such coaches of which YLF359 was one.
I once travelled on a House coach to Cheltenham Races. It was on a day out from The Bull & Butcher in Turville and the coach provided was an ex British Airways Leyland Leopard. The year must have been around 1980. There was also an old House coach in a field on the way from Watlington to Stadhampton.
Any more pictures of House coaches guys?
Postscript II to article on Aylesbury bus station
Ed Maun writes "Issue 126 comments on some services turning left out of Aylesbury Bus Station which used to turn right (e.g. 9 and 280). For a large part of last year Kingsbury was being given a make-over with an enlarged pedestrian area. This meant services normally going to and from the Bus Station via the Market Square had to be diverted, and this included services 9 and 280 amongst others.
Since earlier this year inbound services via the Bicester Road and Buckingham Road (e.g. 16 and 66) have again used the Market Square, but as yet no outbound services have used Market Square and Kingsbury due I believe to operational problems in Kingsbury.
I assume it is intended that outbound services will again use Kingsbury as a new shelter has been provided. For inbound services using Buckingham Street and the Market Square, the bus stop outside Sainsbury's is well used."
I am delighted that Mike Penn has offered to provide some information on the area requested, Dunstable, Hemel Hempstead, Hitchin and Luton.
Mike writes "I
see that you require a correspondent to cover the Dunstable, Hemel Hempstead,
Hitchin and Luton area. As you may know I live in Luton so I can certainly send
in reports from time to time. However I don't generally see a great deal unless
I am going out specifically to take photographs so it wouldn't necessarily be a
comprehensive report every week.
The situation is quite complex at the moment. As you probably know Centrebus took over the St Albans operation of Sovereign Bus just over a year ago. They also own LQT and Lutonian who operate in the Luton and Dunstable area and also in Hemel Hempstead and Hitchin. There are frequent swaps of vehicles between the operators and in fact virtually any vehicle can work any route. As an example I have seen within the last week a Centrebus ex Sovereign mini working LQT sevice X31 and a few days later the same one on Lutonian service 10.
As far as photographs are concerned if you wish you could provide a link to my Fotopic gallery which contains over 900 photographs currently. The collections which are of particular local interest are as follows:
Vintage United Counties - photographs taken between 1962 and 1980, many in the Luton area and including former Luton Corporation vehicles.
Independents in Luton - photographs of independent operators taken in Luton between 1962 and 2003.
Beds, Herts and Bucks 2004 - self explanatory.
Beds, Herts and Bucks 2005 - self explanatory.
I will shortly upload some recent photographs from High Wycombe to the latter.
The link is http://mapenn6052.fotopic.net
A big thanks to mike for this reply which I am sure can only add to the value of this page each week.
Now on to this week's News and photos. Thank you to everyone who has contributed this week. I have not received so much news this week and so the operator reports are predominantly photographic in nature. I do however realise that many of you enjoy the photos more than the text.
Malcolm Crowe - Sunday 8th May 2005
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News of the local companies – 8th May 2005
Not so much on Arriva this week though I did spend an interesting period in High Wycombe last Friday. There seems to be returning use of paper stickers again which is a shame. Arriva seemed to have got things in hand recently.
I am always pleased to get action shots and the one below showing 3814 coming out of Newlands Bus Station last Friday exemplifies this very well. These little buses always seem like busy bees and maybe my earlier name of "sheds" was a little unfair. They have certainly given good service in our area and it seems a long time ago now that I first saw some very dingy ex LT Wright bodied Darts at the back of the old COMS garage in Cowley Road. Oxford Bus spent quite a lot of money on refurbishing these buses and they are still performing well.
On Thursday morning last week a colleague and I were heading to Oxford for a training course and espied this Volvo on the M40 proclaiming 31 Downley but seemingly well off course as it neared Wheatley. I wonder where it was going but here is the photo to prove my point.
Unfairly one could wonder at the conversation between the driver and his companion,
"I thought you knew a short cut on the 31 when traffic was bad coming out of the Bus Station!"
Whilst doing some type training yesterday (Saturday) I had the chance to take a picture or two on our way into town. I was pleased to get this shot, not very good I'm sorry, of an ex OBC Olympian - 5830 - on the 280 to Aylesbury. how many times this bus must have come up this road in its early years. (G230VWL)
Nigel Peach writes "I was interested to note that the new electronic destination display on Olympian 5120 (Gavin Francis' picture on this week's page) spells Hazlemere as "Hazelmere"!
And does Stephen Morris' picture of new Volvo 3864 also betray "Hazelmere" on its display too? (It's spelt correctly on the "branding" on these buses!)"
Nigel goes on to say in a note just received "Further to my note about the spelling of Hazlemere on the new style destination displays, I have conducted an exhaustive survey (?) and can confirm that all the new Volvos I have seen this week have Hazlemere spelt correctly!
One of Wycombe's six Scanias, 3144, has also gained a similar destination display.
All Leyland Olympian 5132 has reappeared in after a short absence, freshly repainted. I had heard that this vehicle had been involved in an accident.
I am still trying to work out which vehicles have been displaced by the 7 new Volvos. It could be the following 7 vehicles, none of which I have seen for some time:
The last remaining ex Oxford Olympians, 5831/4 (G231/4VWL)
Ex London Olympians 5854/6 (D167/9FYM)
Northern Counties bodied Olympian 5135 (G132YWC) one of a quartet which has been at Wycombe almost since new
and Alexander Dash bodied Volvo B6s 3243/4 (M843/4 DDS), leaving just 3242 from that batch."
These two buses may not see service ever again and appear to be being cannibalised at Carousel's yard.
A slice of history (the time before Oxford Bus - COMS) and a contribution from Nigel Butchers
Nigel Butcher responded to my request for old pictures in Oxford with an excellent collection of buses with COMS in the 1970s. He says "Following the items from the last two weeks news pages regarding hired buses for COMS, I attach some pictures which may be of interest.
Firstly, I have to apologise for some of the pictures - despite being scanned by a high tech scanner, the original photographs are quite poor - possibly too poor to post. However, in some cases poor is better than none.....
As your correspondent correctly stated, one of the reasons was for OMO operation, however, I believe a more pressing problem from around April 1970 to mid 1971 was the shortage of serviceable vehicles. The temporary fleet numbers given to Aldershot & District reached at least A18, and these were all rear entrance vehicles, as per shots of A7 & A18 attached."
A&D 467 and 444 when in Oxford in March 1971
"Also attached is a shot of RBW86M in Oxford South Midland livery while working a 3 service tied in with the week's news page two weeks ago."
There were other hired vehicles which subsequently transferred to COMS ownership, such as those from Midland Red, Stratford Blue and South Wales - I will see if I can dig some of these out for a future week.
The first picture below shows an Atlantean from Maidstone & District, 78YKT, which was in Oxford during May 1970.(That's 25 years ago !!!! Ed.)
The three pictures below are equally interesting and the first shows a Swindon AEC Reliance nr 140 (AMR140B) which with 139 was on loan from 26th July until 3rd November 1973. 139 AMR139B AEC Reliance Willowbrook B41D was again hired from 9th January 1974 until 9th February 1974.
The Midland Red Fleetline in the second of the three picture is 5273HA and many of these eventually joined the COMS fleet and were used on the initial Park & Ride services in a Starsky and Hutch livery. This picture dates from 1971.
The third picture is of an East midland Atlantean with a low height body, nr D136. This was with Oxford from 17th May until the 10th June 1973. Its registration was 136BRR and it was new around 1960.
All pictures by Nigel Butchers
The next three pictures continue the record of what a the time were massive hiring's from other operators. The first picture is of a Nottingham Fleetline, 92RTO which became N923 during its stay with Oxford which was from 10th August to 2nd September 1973. It had Northern Counties bodywork and reminded me of my time with Harpers of Heath Hayes when they had two NCME Fleetlines but of low height variety.
The second and third pictures are of a Brighton & Hove Bristol VR, high variety, which seems to have spent a lot of time on the 76 to Watlington. (This route is now the 101 operated by Thames Travel.) The first picture was taken at Gloucester Green on 2nd June 1970 and the second picture on the same route on 4th February 1971.
In view of the recent possibilities regarding Bournemouth and the Go-Ahead group it is interesting to record that between 27th July and 11th August 1973 this Daimler Roadliner KRU54F with Willowbrook 49 seat bodywork operated for COMS as their BM3, It is seen here looking very shiny and immaculate when in Oxford service.
Well many thanks to Nigel Butchers for some evocative pictures and also I should acknowledge the records of Graham Wareham from Oxford Bus which have helped me piece together the record of the pictures from Nigel.
The X3 was recorded last week as not following the whole route to rail station
and here 832 waits for the lights by Oxford's central police station.
Daniel Stazicker has submitted some further photos for publication and the two below are of 16517 in Kenilworth.
Gavin Francis sent this picture of 16523 on the short working of route 7, the 7B which terminates in Magdalen Street East.
by Gavin Francis
This week a number of you will have seen ex M A N Tube 50058 in and around the centre of Oxford, especially on Saturday. Since their departure last year when replaced by the Neoplans, further drivers have joined the team on the Oxford Tube and therefore with the imminent return of four of these coaches to the Tube service, driver familiarisation has been required.
I had my turn on Saturday afternoon and I must say they are a very different coach to drive. The acceleration is quite rapid compared to the Neoplans and there is a pleasant whine when running at speed.
The low cab profile will take some getting used to and I notice that overall height is only 13ft 2in compared to the 13ft 8in of the Neoplan.
Despite the arduous work put in, first on the Tube for five years and for the past year on Megabus, the coaches are very clean and tidy and will I am sure not be unwelcome on the London - Oxford route in the coming weeks.
M A N 50058 at Horspath garage on Saturday during driver familiarisation work.
I understand that they will retain the Megabus livery during their short stay at Oxford. It is not known when and which the final two coaches will be when they arrive.
Stephen Le Bras records the following Neoplans in London yesterday between 0835 and 1300.
Chris Lowe recorded the second of the two Leamington Neoplans in Birmingham last week, 50142.
Note the differing way of formatting the destination display on these new coaches. Hyde Road so you may not see them again."
Bank holiday Monday last week saw the X50 service in Oxford as per the timetable when this also happens. 403 is parked up between journeys.
Fred Spresser of Thames Travel reports that the long awaited Mercedes Sprinter is at last in the country but no delivery date has yet been set.
In addition he records that two new M A N s will arrive on Monday. These are for the new contract in Reading and details advised are
MAN/MCV Evolution Reg. nrs AE05EUX & AE05EUZ which I presume will be fleet numbers 105 and 205
A quick shot of The Pink Lady from the top deck of SC 50058 on Saturday afternoon. It was spitting with rain.
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I think that as a result of the merger between Shearings and Wallace Arnold some rationalisation of feeder services
has occurred and as a result this Wallace Arnold coach was picking up in High Wycombe last Friday afternoon.
Caught loading passengers in St Aldates this Bova belongs to S & M coaches but I am not aware where
the operator heralds from?
Not for the first time I include a couple of pictures below of a German operator. The last time in June of last year, I had seen this operator in Frankfurt and little expected to see another coach from the same stable just by my house at Stokenchurch. Last Sunday I was on the M40 overbridge at junction 5 for a half hour and low and behold there was this same operator with a Setra heading towards London. My quick picture was not the best but as luck would have Kevin Stevens caught the same Setra coach in Oxford and sent me his result.
Apologies to those who don't like bad language but this really is a German name.
Chris Lowe sent the picture below which I record for interest. It is one which might just make one think from a distance that a new Neoplan Megabus was heading your way.
Chris says "This is not particularly a photo of a vehicle from the Oxford & Chilterns area (I don't think anyway), but may interest you in some way.
The photo was taken this afternoon (Saturday 7th May) outside the Food Court at the Trafford Centre. The vehicle concerned is a modified Neoplan Skyliner, which unfortunately I do not know the original registration for due to it bearing a cherished number plate.
The vehicle is painted all over for Cadbury's Dairy Milk and was surrounded by people all dressed in purple giving out little bags with Cadbury's chocolate inside. The nearside centre entrance/exit also was being used to invite people inside (I didn't go in, due to not having enough time. I was on my meal break) and presumably show them promotional material.
your photos for inclusion on this page. Please send them to me
These are three most interesting sites which I do recommend
Mike Penn's photo page with much from Bedfordshire, Hertfordshire as well as Buckinghamshire
Chris Lowe's Photo page - mainly North West UK
The Oxford Bus Museum
Bus Services in Buckinghamshire
Bus services in Oxfordshire
Where are the Chilterns?
Visit this informative site through the link below.
Visit the "OXFORD BUS PAGE" Archive 1998 - 2002
Visit the "OXFORD & CHILTERN BUS PAGE " Archives from October 2002