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 270
Monday 14th July 2008

(next update week ending 29th June 2008)

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.

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

To see the pictures full size just click on the thumbnail


The past week has been a busy one, with duties on the National Express 737 which as they were "day" duties meant little time for web page work. My apologies to those who have written to me as I was rather slow in responding. I also spent much time producing Day 2 of my journey to Land's End. I was delighted with the response from readers and I also had some very useful mails back on recent developments on services which I used.

The weather over the past few days has been, in many cases, absolutely awful with very heavy rain and a lot of wind. In fact the rain was so heavy on Friday's return trip from Stansted, that I had to wait for more than five minutes to unload passengers at Hemel Hempstead. I braved the heavy rain storm to go to the luggage lockers but the passengers would not get off the coach. To be honest it was more of a tropical downpour than the rain were are normally accustomed to.

Our batch of five Levantes at Oxford have now received the latest National Express branding and somehow one grows more at ease with the rather radical change to the style. However, whereas with the old branding, one could tell a National Express from a long way away, the new branding does not stand out so well. You may notice that our resident wizard on destination displays has also revised the National Express display now that we are getting the new livery. The picture below was taken around 4 am on the 5th July prior to operating the 04:30 737 departure from Oxford to Stansted.

Your contributions have been, as ever, excellent with a great deal of interest. I am including reports from Glastonbury, Bow garage open day, the Stroud Running Day and the Weymouth Vintage Bus Running Day. From readers comments you enjoy the variety that the OCBP now brings to you whilst still keeping readers up to date with local goings on.

I hope you all enjoy this issue.

The problem of buses and coaches in The High - one of Oxford's historic thoroughfares.

Local comment in Oxford suggests a swell of public opinion against the number of buses and coaches using The High and there are numerous suggestions about how to tackle this. The High is indeed one of the vistas which record the charm and history of Oxford. Whilst it is indeed difficult to reconcile the need for public transport, especially reducing the numbers of cars in the city, there is the very important factor that one has to make public transport accessible.

One suggestion being mooted is that the London and Airport coaches should start from outside the city, say at Thornhill. It is hard to see how this would work as, so often, passengers have large amounts of heavy luggage which they would need to take on a local bus to Thornhill where they would then start their main journey. Students and many other travellers would clog up the local buses and the companies would need to offer a 24 hour service to Thornhill. Intending passengers from other parts of the city who may now go to city centre stops might well take to using their cars to get to Thornhill adding to the already overcrowded and heavy utilisation of the facility. It is often impossible to park in Thornhill now and local residents must be aware of people leaving their cars in and around Risinghurst.

I also wonder how this would all fit in with new thinking in terms of encouraging the travelling public to use buses and coaches. Another fact seemingly overlooked is the connections made at Gloucester Green to other services, especially National Express services. Finally where is the space to come from at Thornhill which would need to be significantly enlarged? 

Stagecoach signs £1.5m CCTV deal

Stagecoach has signed a £1.5m contract with LOOK CCTV for the supply, installation and maintenance of CCTV on its new buses.

The 12-month deal will ensure all new buses ordered by Stagecoach in 2008-09 are fitted with state-of-the-art digital CCTV systems from the subsidiary of AIM-listed Quadnetics Group plc.

A record £71m is being invested by Stagecoach in more than 580 new buses for delivery during the year to 30 April 2009 from Alexander Dennis, Optare, MAN, Plaxton, Scania and Volvo.

Boris calls for ‘inspiring icon’

Cash prizes of up to £25,000 are on offer to people who can design a new ‘iconic’ bus for London, in what Mayor Boris Johnson calls a ‘21st Century Routemaster’.

Announcing the competition – which is open to everyone and has separate prizes for children of all ages - Mr Johnson said: “London deserves a bus fit for the 21st century, and I want as many people as possible to submit their ideas.

“Whether you’re a professional designer who can submit a detailed plan or you are someone who uses buses every day and has one great idea that would make your journey better, we want to hear from you.”

The competition closes on 19 September, with the winner announced on 27 October. After this, the winning entries “may be taken forward,” with bus manufacturers invited to tender to work up the winning design, and build production examples.

Arriva in £78m Madrid deal

Arriva has bought family-owned Empresa de Blas y Cia (De Blas) for Euro 99.25 million (£78.6 million), building on its existing presence in Madrid.

De Blas is one of the largest privately-owned contractors to the Madrid transport authority, with 222 buses and 679 employees and ‘substantial’ depot facilities to the south-west of Madrid. It operates 34 inter-urban routes into and around the city.

In 2007, its revenue was Euro 48.8 million (£38.6 million), and pre-tax profit was Euro 3.5 million (£2.8 million). Net assets were Euro 11.4 million (£9 million) including net debt of Euro 15.3 million (£12.1 million).

Announcing the deal this morning (Wednesday) Arriva Chief Executive David Martin said: “This is an important step forward in positioning Arriva for the development of one of Europe's most exciting city markets for passenger transport.”


TCLBS,  is running a ‘Cravens Day’ open to all enthusiasts, using the only two remaining Cravens RTs in preservation, now part of the Heritage Fleet of Ensign Bus Company on Sunday, 21st September 2008.

The trip will recreate some of the journeys carried out by these and similar vehicles during their brief period of service with London Transport in Watford, Harrow and Ruislip.

RT1499 seen at Hemel Hempstead on a recent running day.

With RT1431 in LT red livery and RT1499 in LT green livery, the day will begin with a departure at 10;15 from within Victoria Coach Station, courtesy of the Operations Manager. 

Leaving the coach station and routing via Eccleston Bridge, the first stage of the journey is to follow former Green Line route 708 to Watford via Kilburn, Edgware, Stanmore and Bushey. 

The second stage will recreate route 385 from North Watford to Croxley Green, home to the Cravens RTs, where RT1499 ran both in Red and Green livery on this local service from Watford High Street Garage. 

The final leg will be a rerun of Route 158 from Watford Junction to Ruislip Lido via Harrow Weald Garage (also a former home to Red Cravens RTs) and the vehicles will be posed in the garage for a nostalgic photo opportunity, thanks to the cooperation of Metroline. 

The return journey back to Central London will, subject to timings, include a final photo opportunity in Uxbridge Bus station followed by a run back along the Uxbridge Road through Ealing and Shepherds Bush. For convenience, stops at all mainline stations within in Central London will be shared between the two buses. 

Throughout the day there will be plenty of further opportunities for location photographs, including at Stanmore Station, Watford High Street close to the site of the former LT Garage and Watford Leavesden Road, outside the former garage that still stands there today. 

To guarantee a seat, tickets must be booked in advance, and are available at £20 (TCLBS members £17) by applying to or writing to The Secretary, TCLBS, Cedar Croft, Ainger Road, London NW3 3AU

A 7.5 tonne weight limit on M40 overbridge.

As a very regular user of the M40, I was quite disturbed to see four parked coaches on the Christmas Common road this last weekend, two of which were actually on a weak overbridge. As the bridges at junction 5 and 7 are to be replaced due to the fact that the concrete used has a doubtful integrity I wonder about this overbridge also?

Traffic Lights in High Wycombe.

During work on the Sainsbury's site at Bellfield Road in High Wycombe, this road has been closed and the junction coned off to pedestrians etc. However traffic lights have been left on presenting a crazy situation of traffic waiting at red lights for what?

There is no apparent reason to leave the lights in use ad one wonders why they have not been switched off or covered over??

Bus collision in Buckinghamshire

Chris from Banbury writes that he found this story on the Bucks Fire Website recently.

Wednesday 9 July, 10.50am: Road traffic collision involving a bus and a van, Woodway, Loosley Row. One appliance and crew from High Wycombe (call sign HWY1) and one from Princes Risborough (call sign PRI3) attended. Firefighters released one man, uninjured. Picture and report here

Reading – Southend X1 Route is no more by Gavin Francis 

Friday 11th July saw the final day of operation of the X1 and X 10 service linking London with Rochford and Southend. 

Currently the service is operated by Stephensons of Essex but it started on the 6th October 1980 as a joint operation between Reading Transport and Southend Transport. The Transport Act of 1980 brought about the deregulation of coach services and these two local bus companies commenced this innovative service. Southend used DP Leopards and Reading bus seated Metrobuses and Metropolitans. 

It was however not a happy relationship and following 2 periods of Reading withdrawing operation May 16th 1982 was the last day of joint operation. The 2 operators now ran independently with Reading running from Reading to Aldgate and Southend from Southend to Heathrow but both services were still numbered X1. 

Shortly afterwards double deck coaches were trialled including a Neoplan but and order was placed for 3 Van Hool Astromegas, this first entering service on April 26th 1983. By now the service was proving very popular with coaches being hired in from all over the country including Leicester, Bournemouth, Burnley, Flyde, Lancaster and Derby. 

Over the next two years lots of service variations were introduced, X21 from Shoebury, X31 from Canvey and X41 from Prittlewell. By October 1986 there are 7 routes running providing 64 journeys a day. In the peak there is a coach every 2.5 mins entering or leaving London. This was the largest number of vehicles used on the route with a total of 66 allocated to the service. This exceeded the number used on local bus services in Southend. 

By 1987 the decline had started and by 1988 only half the number of journeys run in 1986 were now running. In 1990 there were now 6 Astromegas in stock but they were all withdrawn. In 1991 the service is down to just 17 vehicles and becomes part of the Green Line network. To make matters worse in 1992 Thamesway start up in competition which was to last till 1998 when the 2 companies agreed to co-operate with a joint service under the Green Line name. 

In October 2001 Thamesway withdrew from the service and Southend (By now Arriva) abandoning the service from February 17th 2002. The following day Stephensons starting a replacement X1. 

It only remains to be seen now as to whether another company will take up the service otherwise there will no longer be a service linking London and the Southend area.

Gavin has provided some pictures to illustrate his article.

Last days of the 362 by Paul Davis

Sat 5th July marked the last day of the 362 route number being used in the High Wycombe area.  This has lasted since the LPTB days in the 1930's.  After this, the 305 will be the only number left connecting us with such times. 

Herewith a couple of pics from 2008, together with a Swift in Lincoln Green from May76, and an Atlantean from Feb91.

On the 5th July Olympian 5109 was working a Wycombe bound service from Chesham - M Crowe.

Some pictures of the replacing services, 52 and 62 are included under the Arriva heading below.

A trip to France by David Percy plus reference to Silverstone

I have been away on holiday in France for a couple of weeks, and am trying to catch up on websites, and have put aside Sunday to look at your last two editions! 

Boy, have we been busy, the Grand Prix keeps us really busy, ferrying catering staff, at least 8 vehicles a day from airports to Northampton college with catering staff, ferrying them to and from the circuit, along with 10 vehicles involved with Newmarket tours hires, I worked 41 hours in three days!! 

The loss of the British Grand Prix to Donnington in 2010 will really have a financial impact on the area. 

OK, onto the images. 

1, taken 16/06/2008 at St Peter Port in Guernsey with Condor Lines Commodore Clipper in the background, two Toyota Cruisers, a Mercedes Vario, and an unidentified coach, provide onward connections from the sailing from Poole.


2. Only for the brave! A French tour coach passes over the route to the Ile du Madame which is only passable at low tide, what happens when a passenger is 'missing, and late returning' to the tour coach, do you leave them behind? (Yes, I would!!) 

3. Two images from the British Grand Prix at Silverstone on Qualifying day, Sat 5/7/2008, the first a general view of the coach park, Jeffs had 14 vehicles involved on various contracts on the Saturday, ranging from catering staff transport (04.00 book on time, anyone?), to prestige tour package work, I was wise enough not to be available on race day itself!!


The second image from Silverstone really made my day, I am a great fan of the 'baby' Bristol LH marque, and there are not many left around, so I was really pleased to see this 'golden oldie' (6894 VC, with a nice Duple Dominant C30F body) mixing with her modern counterparts in the coach park, I could not find too much about her, apart from that it was registered to a family in Somerset.


Keep up the good work, as I said above, I have all Sunday afternoon to digest the two editions that I have missed, looking forward to that! 

From Frazer Peddle in Bournemouth 

Please find enclosed pictures of buses I took during my day trip to Bournemouth on Thursday 3rd July.

One I took at Southbourne of an ex-Reading Leyland Olympian D84UTF, now owned by Shamrock buses.

The other one is a yellow open-top Bristol VR (I think) along the costal route taken at the East Cliff area between Boscombe & Bournemouth pier.

The weather that day was beautiful, clear skies, a nice breeze so too hot & the beach wasn't too busy either! 

From Richard Sharman 

Over the long weekend of the Cornbury Music Festival(4th-7th of June) RH Transport Services provided a shuttle bus between Charlbury Station and the Festival Site. 

Cornbury Music Festival is a large out door festival with artists such as Crowded House, Paul Simon, KT Tunstall etc performing.


A fairly rare sight on Friday was seeing Three Levante's in a row at the Green, here we see Stagecoach, Bruce's and Arriva Classic examples.


Glastonbury 2008 and bus scene

The public transport side of this well known event tends to get overlooked due to the heavy security and road closures in the area. However many hundreds of buses and coaches are used to transport festival goers to the site which is actually situated at the village of Pilton, some seven miles east of Glastonbury close to the town of Shepton Mallet. 

National Express operate direct services to the site from all over the UK and hire in several hundred coaches for the event. 

Additionally special trains are provided to and from the nearest rail head which is at Castle Cary, about six miles from Pilton and the organisers hire in double decks and coaches to provide a shuttle service for those arriving by train. 

Interestingly the contract to operate the service between Pilton and Bristol this year, was won by Go-Ahead South Coast. Last year the service was operated by Bakers coaches of Weston – perhaps they could not face the possibility of having to clean all that famous Glastonbury mud out of their coaches again this year. 

The vehicles on the Castle Cary shuttle normally provide the most interest. Apart from coaches provided by local operators Centurion and Smiths, there are double decks from A-Bus of Bristol, The Bath Bus Company and Bristol VRs from Chepstow Classic Buses. On the Sunday and Monday extra buses were provided by Stagecoach West and Go-Ahead subsidiaries Wilts & Dorset and Damory Coaches. There was even a Damory VR. Baths Bus also supplied three Routemasters on the Sunday and Monday, one less than last year when Stagecoach Gloucester also sent RML2657.

A selection of vehicles from the Go-Ahead South coast fleet which were at Glastonbury.

Another ex Oxford coach, this time in use on National Express service G1 from Bristol.

Some of the variety in the decker line which were in use.
If you like VRs and Routemasters, this is the place to be.

A Van Hool coach also in use on a National Express service.

A contribution from Pilton for the Glastonbury Festival brought additional photos showing the variety of buses to be seen this year.

M1441 - London Transports only dual door Mk2 Metrobus delivered pre privatisation. - Owned by EnsignBus and loaned to Bath Bus Company for the event.
This bus was in the Ensign fleet at Cambridge and on Thursday was operating between Castle Cary Station & Pilton festival site.
A busy day with traffic badly affected by a scrap yard fire which shut the A37.  

AYG941H is a flat screen VR converted to accommodation
 - this was used by the drivers from Chepstow Classic Buses who turn out a large fleet of VR's every year for the shuttle.
This VR has a small kitchen and the upper deck is sleeping quarters for the drivers.

RML 2665 - Former East London RML now owned by Bath Bus Co
shown here loading up on Monday taking festival going people back to the station at the end of the festival.
Note the just married! end destination.  

Two former Oxford vehicles now owned by Go South Coast were part of a large number of buses supplied by this fleet. These were ex Oxford B10M coaches - R810 NUD in driver training livery and R807 NUD in Wilts & Dorset livery. Both coaches were used on the Pilton to Bristol service.

Many thanks to the two correspondents who provided the story and pictures.

'Transports of Delight'

Marcus Lapthorn writes "In today's (Friday 4 July) edition of the Oxford Times, the Oxfordshire Limited supplement features 'Transports of Delight'. There are two features, the first being about Ray Jackson who apparently founded the pop group Lindisfarne and now as we know is a vintage transport artist living in Witney. The second features the Oxford Bus Museum at Long Hanborough."

See the advert at the bottom of this page for Ray Jackson.

Regular features

Travel on a Concessionary Pass 2008

From Ian Brown in Hemel Hempstead

Malcolm, good to meet you on Friday at HH Bus Station. Went to Luton on Sat am on Arriva 46. Goes around the villages that you miss between HH and Luton - i.e. Redbourn, Flamstead, Markyate. Came back on NEx service 707 (First Northampton). Showed driver my old `uns pass. He accepted it and said that 'he hadn't a clue whether he should accept it or not`.

Buses in the Landscape

I liked this one from Peter Edgar which shows M1 involved in the Bow Open Day arriving at St Pauls Churchyard on the 15 route.

Two evocative pictures of Oxford-Witney Tridents passing over Swinford Toll Bridge.
July 1st 2008 by Marcus Lapthorn.

Gez from Lancaster sent this picture, this time a Lancaster based Trident passing over the Greyhound Bridge near that city.

Running Days

Stroud Bus Running Day – Sunday June 29 – by Mike Bennett

If any of you have been to the Stroud Bus Running Day at Stroud College in previous years, as I have, then you would have had a big shock when you saw the venue this year.  I did not recognise the site at all as the college has been completely rebuilt since the 2006 event.  At that time there was the steel frame of the new main building going up, but the old building was still being used, together with a collection of temporary huts. 

The old college building has been swept away, with new domestic accommodation going up in its place; also on the old main car park where the buses collected previously.  The following photos may give you an idea of the new venue

Gen view 1

Gen view 2

Gen view 3

Gen view 4

Gen view 5

Gen view 6




I arrived by 1040, and very quickly met up with several people I had known for years – swapped news and caught up with their plans for the future.  These mostly involved the use of their concessionary passes – I did say I had known them for years!  I soon went right around the bus parking area and photographed most of the participating vehicles.  Most of them had been in Stroud on previous running days, but there were some new ones.  A representative selection follows:- 

SC 5543


WN 333

Eastern NationalVHK177L




Cheltenham 1003

Marchants RUA458W

Mid Red 702

Greyhound AFM103G

Gloucester VAE499T

Foden OLG855

BOC 2062


BOC 8336

Brighton Hove KPM91E

It was then time to sample some of the many bus routes that radiate from the college.  I said that I had been to this bus running day before – well six times before – so I have travelled on all of the routes on offer.  This time I decided to ride on vehicles that were either new to me, or looked interesting.  My first trip was, therefore, on BOC RESL no. 516, which climbed right up above the Golden Valley at Chalford to France Lynch on route 426, where we had the usual photo stop.  On arrival back at Stroud College at 1320, I noticed that the Red & White Duple lowbridge bodied Guy Arab was about to depart for Stonehouse, Horsemarling Lane; a nice easy route no. 421 for a bus of this age, just 59 years.  Of course I had to ride on it, even though I had done so on several occasions before.

France Lynch
BOC 516 – v1

France Lynch
BOS 516 – v2

France Lynch
BOC 516 – v3

R&W L1749 V1

R&W L1749 V2

Having got back to the college by 1400 I thought I would take some photographs by the roundabout near the entrance to the college. This produced some different views and a three are shown here:-

West Riding Tiger

Southern Vectis 202

BOC 2062

Minchinhampton on route 430 was the next journey I sampled at 1500.  This very picturesque route climbs up via Amberley and ends right in the centre of the town.  It met up with the route 429 service, which had come by the more direct road from Brimscombe Corner on the main road to Cirencester.  I had travelled out on Bristol Omnibus RELH 2062, and went back to Stroud on Southern Vectis LHS 202.

My last trip of the day was to Nailsworth on route 556 at 1600, this time on VRT no. 5540 in the Stroud Valleys livery.  This route followed the valley floor and terminated at the small bus station in the town, before returning to Stroud College by 1639.  

SV 202 + BOC 2062

General view
War memorial


Nailsworth bus stn
Stroud Valleys EWS748W

By now the buses and coaches were beginning to leave for home – always an interesting time for photographs as the remaining vehicles are better spaced for a nice clear record shot.

I said goodbye to my friends and went back to the car to finish my lunchtime sandwiches before driving back to Highworth by 1820.  Another excellent day at the Stroud Bus Running Day – and I heard the organisers talking about another event for next year.

Bow Open Day 290608 

John Marsh writes "I attended this event on Saturday and thought you might like a few pictures. I have spared you the usual RT, Routemaster and DMS shots and contributed unusual pictures which I hope readers like?"

Peter Edgar supplied some superb pictures of the buses involved saying ".....part of the 100 year celebrations of Bow Bus Garage last weekend East London Buses ran various vehicles on Heritage route 15 on Sunday June 29th."


Weymouth Vintage Bus Running Day 

Ian White writes "Whilst down at Weymouth on 22nd June 2008 I visited their running day. There were about 30 to 40 vehicles on display of various ages. Three routes were being operated:-

22A Weymouth - Portland Bill -  half hourly

23   Weymouth - Bowleaze Cove - half hourly

100 Weymouth - Nothe Forte - hourly 

All this was completely free, which in today's economic climate is most unusual. 

The oldest vehicle a 1929 Dennis Toastrack on service 100 was quite something to ride on.

Attached are a few pictures of some of the vehicles that were on show or being used."

Many thanks to the various correspondents who contributed to the above items.

Future dates for your diary

Record buses and coaches display at south-west's largest festival of steam and petrol at Kemble airfield, near Cirencester,
from Friday 1st August to Sunday 3rd August 2008.

The 34th Gloucestershire Steam & Vintage Extravaganza (often referred to as the Kemble Show, because of its location) will be the largest ever, with a record entry of over 800 vintage and classic cars.

Originally conceived for steam enthusiasts, the show has grown to include a huge array of buses, coaches, motorcycles, military vehicles, classic cars, tractors, aircraft, commercial vehicles, traction engines and historic caravans. It is an air show, country fayre and transport rally all rolled into one superb extravaganza. With non-stop live action for three days and special attractions for children, the Gloucestershire Steam & Vintage Extravaganza is one of the UK's best family shows. It takes place at Kemble airfield, near Cirencester, from Friday 1st August to Sunday 3rd August 2008.

Widely regarded as a show within a show, the bus section has grown from humble beginnings to one of the biggest Bus & Coach Gatherings in the UK. Attracting exhibits from the length of the land as well as from foreign climes, the line up of vehicles is as colourful as it is impressive.

There will be buses and coaches from 1938 to the present day on display, including the world’s largest gathering of Bedford OB coaches. At the 2007 event the World Record for the number of these remarkable vehicles gathered in preservation in one place was set, and is planned that 2008 will see this record being smashed.

The Bedford OB bus were introduced in 1939 and production resumed after World War II until 1950. More than 12,000 were built and Bedford OB buses were a common sight on Britain's roads in the 1950s and '60s. The company's advertising slogan was: 'You see them everywhere!'  

Buses and coaches from many manufacturers will be displayed, with the vast majority built in Bristol. 2008 marks the 100th anniversary of when the first Bristol bus entered service and there will be special displays to mark this event.


John Hitchings of the bus and coach section of Gloucestershire Steam & Vintage Extravaganza says: "Everybody enjoys seeing old buses and coaches because we each remember special journeys made on them. A ride on a vintage bus is a trip heavy with nostalgia."

There will be a vintage bus service to and from Kemble railway station operating during the show and buses will be available across the showground to the Bristol Aero collection. For the bus schedule, please refer to the website  

Ticket Prices:

Adult:            Friday £5, Saturday or Sunday £8, Weekender: £12

Children         Friday £3, Saturday or Sunday £4, Weekender: £6   (aged 6 – 16years)

Concessions: Friday: £4, Saturday or Sunday: £6, Weekender: £8

(Inc: OAP’s, Disabled, NUS, unemployed)

Family Day Ticket:              £20 (2 x adults, 2 x children)

Family Weekender Ticket:     £30 (2 x adults, 2 x children)

Under 5’s free of charge

Advance tickets available from Local Tourist Information Centres including: Stroud, Cirencester, Chippenham, Swindon, Malmesbury, Gloucester, Cheltenham and Tetbury.

Gates open at 10am everyday

All profits donated to the Cobalt Appeal Fund, Diabetes UK & The County Air Ambulance.

and from Peter Cartwright 

Amersham & District Running Days for 2008 are:

20th Amersham Running Day Sunday 5 October based on car park adjoining Amersham MET Station. This has become a very popular event and no doubt it will still attract many after 20 years when again there will be some alteration to routes operated.


If you have any pictures or historical memories and wish to submit them for this page please send them to the me at

United Counties and the VR by Gary Seamarks

I am delighted to publish a comprehensive review of Bristol VR buses with United Counties and its successors researched and published by Gary Seamarks. I am sure readers of the OCBP will find this most illuminating.

As a child most of my summer holidays were spent at Great Yarmouth and the Boroughs Atlanteans were something special compared with our old fashioned Lodekkas, a door next to the driver and a real sense of speed, why could we not have something like this back home? By 1969 things would change.

Like most other Tilling Group operators United Counties had no experience with rear engine deckers until the arrival of the first VRs in 1969

By the end of production in 1981 no fewer than 228 would have been delivered new, the fifth largest operator. Between the demise of the last Bristol FS in early 1980 and the arrival of the first Olympian late 1981, they were the sole decker operated. All the vehicles supplied new were to 9.5 metre length and ECW bodied all except 12 were to the 13’8” height with single door. Second hand vehicles, which do not form part of this article, totalled 40 for UC, 37 for MK, and 63 for L&D these included 5 long length and 18 for spares.

Series 1

750-3 were the first to arrive in January 1969, they were stored until March (750/1) and June (752/3) , these differed from other VRs with shallow window vents and no hoppers, also having a Lodekka style T shaped destination screen ,and a rear route number box. Chassis numbers were VRT/SL/135-8, making them amongst the first VR’s built. 754-5 followed in June 69 and 756/7 arrived in October. These differed in having standard depth hopper and slider windows. 756/7 were retrofitted when almost new to series 2 standards and regarded by the company as such, including unofficially prefixing the chassis numbers to series 2.

Series 2

758-72 was the 1970 intake and formed the first series 2 vehicles that would eventually run to 835. Outwardly these were identical to 754-7, only 4 followed in 1971 these were 773-6. 1972 saw the arrival of 777-86 these were the last flat screened VRs built, with 786 believed to be the only one carrying an L registration plate. 778 was sent to West Midlands PTE for inspection, but not operated, when almost new, they later bought 200 with local MCW bodies. 

For 1973 fifteen vehicles arrived, 787-801, these were all diverted to help ease the acute vehicle shortage of the mid seventies. 787-9/95-801 were intended for Eastern Counties, 790/1 Eastern National and 792-4 United. All arrived in Green, but with internal differences, 787-9/95-801 were Cyclone fitted, as standard for ECOC at the time. 790/1 had a screen on the wall of the stairwell to indicate the amount of unoccupied seats upstairs this was not used by UC and later removed. 792-4 had a rear route number box, never used by UC with  792 remaining unique with Grey seats trimmed with the Blue/Red double N logo. 795 onwards had grey instead of cream window rubbers 795 was also fitted with a split level step when new for testing, which was removed in the mid eighties.

The 1974 intake of 802-25 looked similar to 795-801 in appearance, but with two major differences, they were seated to 43/31 as opposed to the previous 39/31.  802-5/12-5/22-5 were built to the ultra low height of 13’ 5”, to cater for the low rail bridges in Luton and Hitchin. These 12 always stood out by having now white relief above the windscreen, internally the lower deck gangway was sunken between the chassis frame. 807 being delivered in all over blue as a base for an advert livery. 1975 was the final year of series 2 production with 826-35 arriving by June, these were again similar to the previous years but 830 onwards had Black window rubbers fitted from new.

Vehicle supplied for a time from late 1974 onwards (822-35) did not have matching registrations due to action by DVLA staff at the time.

Series 3

The 1975 intake of series 3 vehicles were 836-40, being non-standard with a patterned moquette seating and destination screens behind two pieces of glass similar to the previous intake. Despite having 5 speed gearboxes the power unit remained the Gardner 6LX.  The principle visual changes to series three were the twin air intakes at the rear of the upper deck.

For 1976 the intake (841-56) were fitted with Leyland 510 engines, the vertical equivalent of the 501 fitted to Nationals, as Gardner’s were in short supply at the time due to Industrial action at their factory. NBC Orange vinyl seats were fitted from these vehicles onwards. Externally the Standard NBC destination screen appeared for the first time. 857-77 formed the 1977 intake with a reversion to the trusted Gardner engine, by now the 6LXB was the standard unit fitted.

1978 witnessed the arrival of 878-904; with the exception of 904 these were the same specification as 1977 vehicles. 904 were used as the show vehicle of the 1978 Motor show. Being fitted with the new style of window made by Widney windows instead of ECWs own, these also had longer hopper vents. Seating was Orange vinyl upstairs and ‘Autumn Leaf’ Moquette downstairs.

For 1979 deliveries 905-19 arrived, 905-11 were similar to 878-903. With 912-9 to the new style with moquette on both decks, this was to continue on all future VR deliveries. With 19 new vehicles arriving in 1980 as 920-38, again similar to the latter end of 1979 deliveries.

1981 deliveries were the last arrivals, totalling 39 vehicles, 939-77, with 939-67 all in service by May. 968-77 although delivered in Green with fleet plates and UC blinds fitted, remaining stored unused before passing to Eastern Counties in the late summer. Delivered as VVV 968-77W they were registered as VEX 295-304X (VR 295-304). All were repainted before entry to service by Eastern Counties, the last entering service in October 1981. As a postscript to this of the new Olympians that arrived at this time ARP 601-3/9-11X were diverted from Alder Valley and ARP 612-6X from Southdown.

In service.1969-85

It must be remembered in the early seventies that severe vehicle shortages occurred due to spares shortages industrial actions out side the company and elderly vehicles acquired from Luton Corporation. VRs appeared on most routes either Crew operated of OMO, the first use on Bedford Town routes was not until 1977 when 870-3 arrived. Lodekkas remained in charge on several long distance runs until quite late Bedford – Luton and Bedford – Aylesbury spring to mind, on others Cambridge – Bedford- Northampton were mixed. Village rural routes were early converts to VR when the labour saving of an OMO vehicle was important. At the time the vast operating covered Oxford to Leicester, Ely to Welwyn Garden City. With Oakham and Cambridge also served. In was not unknown for a VR to be seen on the former Birch Brothers routes into London, this continued until at least the late eighties. Also the National Express 905 between Birmingham and Cambridge was an occasional jaunt for a VR as duplicate at least East of Northampton.  Saturday relief also saw them working on Holiday Express duties to Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft. Tachographs were fitted to the following, according to the Sept 84 fleet card,

 804, 917-9/32-4/9-57/60/1 Hitchin’s 804 was the only series 2 fitted.  Most of the others spent time as colorbuses making private hires to the sponsor companies easier. Biggleswade's pair 917/54 were used a lot on excursions and private hires many a time Bedford provided extra vehicles to meet their needs, this situation lasted well into Stagecoach days.

Accidents and rebuilds.

Several major accidents spring to mind 765 was deroofed twice in its early life by the same bridge on the same positioning journey with the same conductor, he didn’t get a third chance!.

 858 was involved in a major mishap about 1979, but have yet to find details on that one.

 847 was involved in a massive sideswipe in its early days at Bedford and then spent a year off the road. 919 was another deroofed on another dead journey the bridge had also claimed 849 a few years earlier. The Leyland 510 power units were not favoured by the company due to heavier fuel consumption, but liked by drivers for a better turn of speed. 848/9 were long term favourites on the Bedford-Oxford service. A programme commencing in 1982 to re-engine with reconditioned units from the NBC disposal centre. 848 started the program in Jan 82, 852/6 completed it just before Christmas 82.

The most drastic rebuilds were of several series 1 and 2 vehicles to series 3 standards 750-5/60/9/72-6/8/9. 760 started the program completed in Feb 81 it was completed in late 1984. These rebuilds were a major project some vehicles were off the road over a year. The entire front was removed including the first bay upstairs and a series 3 front fitted. They were always identified by having windscreen wipers hung from above as opposed to standard series 3 vehicles.

Power steering and air accelerators were fitted. The heating system was updated to late series 2 standards, additional air intakes were fitted. Destination blinds and seating were updated to series 3 standards. Redundant Cyclone flaps were removed and a full repaint internally was also done. Reconditioned power units and gearboxes were installed. These rebuilds were done in part jointly by Bedford and Northampton.

924/34 were fitted with experimental transign blinds in about 1981, these were identical to those on the Olympians.

Northampton’s 950 as fitted with a Leyland Hydracyclic gearbox in late 81, the type used in the early Olympians.

918/9 were converted to  semi coach standards with seats transferred from RE  coaches 264/7/8/72  to CH40/28F and repainted into National Holidays livery in July/Aug 81,  being tachograph fitted they  were popular on excursions, I well remember seeing 918 at Blackpool about 1982.

955/61 were also re-seated as 918/9, these were painted in the ‘old Red/white/Blue’ livery and again used on private hires and excursions as well as service work, at Huntingdon and Luton.

 771 was the first vehicle withdrawn, being written of while on a Hitchin- Bedford working in 1983, virtually the whole bus was destroyed by fire with very little left to be sold on, this was the only withdrawal before the split

Liveries & Advert Buses

Two Liveries were standard on delivery, Tilling Green for 750-786, NBC Green 787- 977 with the exception of 807 delivered in dark blue.

One thing that springs to mind is the vast amount of advert liveries worm by the fleet over the years. 771 started the trend with an advert for Brookside Garage Wellingborough from 9/72 to 10/73, in total 96, advert, commemorative or contract liveries were applied by UC or LDT over the next 26 years, many vehicles carrying more than one livery.

36 Liveries were applied before the company split in Jan 86, 12 of which were on series 2 the rest series 3 vehicles.

Major advertisers included Chiltern Radio, Herald and Post, as well as National Holidays and Travelworld.

To promote bus travel in MK several were painted into adverts for various cheap tickets roundabout 1980. A few years later several were painted with the white relief band extended from below the lower deck windows to below the upper deck, and a large red and black Milton Keynes CityBus fleet name applied, sometimes without United Counties.859 had appeared in mid 83 with a similar livery but with lime green instead of white relief. A few of these vehicles were also reseated with cheap café style seats at the rear upstairs to cut down on vandalism; this reduced the rear seat to 4.



This has been mentioned on several vehicles above, for those not in the know this was a cleaning system for vehicles, used in the late sixties, seventies. Involving two flaps at the rear between decks that were attached to a machine in the garage that sucked all the litter from the vehicle with very little human effort involved. Eastern Counties were a big user of this, but UC did not.

Allocations Sept 84.

Northampton              (22)          777/83/4/93               816/7/27/8/30/8/42/60/1/3/78-81                911/14/41/50            

Kettering                    (17)          794           809/34/44-6/56/62/88-90            912/5/39/49/65/6

Corby                        (11)          754/5        820/1/32/75/86/7       908/48/67

Wellingborough           (16)          760/4/89   811/29/58/85/91        920/1/35-7/40/62/3

Milton Keynes             (29)          798/9        800/1/10/26/31/40/1/3/57/9/82-4/96           922/4/7/42/3/58/9/64

Aylesbury                   (9)            752/3/69   874           904/25/38/51/60

Bedford                      (43)          762/3/6/8/72/3/5/6/82/6/91        818/9/35/9/47-9/70-3 902/3/9/16/9/23/6/30/1/44/5/52/3

Biggleswade                               (12)          756-9/61/5/70                            806/8/36   917/54

Huntingdon                 (11)          750/1/67/81/5/90/2    850/76      910/61

Luton                         (61)          774/9/80/7/8/95-7      802/5/7/12-5/22-5-33/7/51-5/64-9/77/92-5/7-99          

                                                900/18/28/9 932-4/46/7/55-7

Hitchin                       (2)            803/4

Delicensed                                  778

Already scrapped                         771 


Three Companies.  Three Policies

The split in Jan 86 produced three new owners, who over the years had 3 differing policies for their VR.

Milton Keynes City Bus

The smallest of the 3 were to remove its native fleet first. For the start of operations 800, 905/27 were painted into the new all over white livery, later changed to Grey.  MK developed a 4 digit fleet numbering all VRs were the registration number plus 3000.

The first to go were the newest 958/9/64 departed in April 86 for Brighton and Hove, with a large quantity of minibuses arriving for de-regulation most VRs were stood down, 19 passing to Eastern National for a London Contracted route. 798-800, 913 headed down the A5 to Luton and District at the same time. Various vehicles were hired in as a result of a vehicle shortage prior to the introduction of the Minibuses, mostly from UC.

The three survivors were 927/42/3, these were to last well into the nineties, and Cambus ownership, and were later joined by a large batch of various second-hand VRs. The final 3 all passed to other operators after life here. 

Disposals of interest

882           Exported to USA

906           New York Apple Tours

922           Transporte Dan, Panama City, Panama   

United Counties

By far the largest of the 3 operators, with 4 series 1, 42 series 2 and   72 series 3.A series 2 vehicle 828, was the first to be painted into the ‘new’ Orange stripe UC livery, as this progressed a lot of vehicles were simply vinyl over the old white stripe.754 became the only series 1 to wear an advert livery in its last couple of years for ASDA at Corby. Service revisions deemed a lot of vehicles spare in early 1986, 763 was the first normal withdrawal in March 86. A large hire pool was formed with loans out during the summer of 86 to Cambus, Milton Keynes Citybus, Luton & District and Eastern National all taking vehicles on hire. 757/61/3-5/7/77 were all sold for further use in Jan 87, both 757 and 767 are now preserved. No more withdrawals took place until the arrival of Stagecoach as new owners with 770 going in November 1987. As soon as Stagecoach took over changes were a foot, Routemasters replaced series 3 VRs on both a Bedford and Corby town route, 5 Hampshire Bus series 3 vehicles arrived for Biggleswade. A large batch of Olympians followed shortly afterwards, this included 1 to replace 835, that was written off in June 88. The Devon Bus war of the summer 88 was to spell the end most series 2 after an agreement with Devon General brought 28 late series 3 models to the company. The last series 1 to go were 750/5 in January 89. All series 2 vehicles had gone by August 89, 832 being the last, except for GRP 794L, which was out stationed at Thrapston from Kettering, a plea for its retention was made to Brian Souter and the vehicle survived to July 94 including a repaint to UC Green/ Orange stripe again now preserved. No series 2 vehicles were to receive Stagecoach livery. Bedford’s 931 became the first VR into Stagecoach livery August 88; this one lasted until 2001 then going to a local operator until the passing for scrap in the summer of 2007 spending all its 27 years based in Bedford. 872 was the last out of green in 2/93.   939 being the last to be done in Sept 99. Having been 4 adverts for a Northants paper since April 85, lasting until gearbox failure in 2002. 940 carried 4 advert liveries only between 1984 and its sale in 1999 the livery was retained by its new owner until going for scrap in 2002.

Additional schools contract work gained in the early nineties saw a low mileage fleet set up at both Bedford and Northampton using about 12 of the oldest remaining vehicles.

The rundown continued with native vehicles52 remained in 1995, 18 in 1999, the final 9 surviving until 2001/2.

As part of the Cambus takeover in 1995 Stagecoach was obliged to sell both Huntingdon and Milton Keynes, the former was very self contained and retained a large fleet of VRs for both service and schools contracts. In April 97 no fewer than 15 VRs were sold on with these operations to Sovereign Buses, most passing on in a matter of months still in Stagecoach Livery. Quite a few appeared with local operator Red Kite of Tilsworth some were never repainted.

849 was repainted into the new colours in June 01, and even received a five digit fleet number lasting until late 2002. Most of the last VRs were restricted to school contacts in the Bedford area; Biggleswade outstation retained a batch almost to the end. The final 9 that lasted until 2001/2 were 849, 931/7/9, 950/61/2/3/5.

Over the years many VRs were acquired from Devon General, East Midland, Circle Line and Cumberland. With vehicles hired in from a mass of other group fleets.

Disposals of interest.

Not all disposals were to the scrap dealers some of the more interesting ones were

750           Chicago Motors Services USA as open top (now scrapped)

811           Viking Tours, York as open top (now sold)

842           Believed converted to Left hand Drive and exported to Central America

856           Filmflow Hendon (dining bus)

858           Planted in garden in Norfolk, (as ornament)

878           ASDA Supermarkets (exhibition bus)

881           Gray Line Tours New York (open top) now sold

917           Believed exported to Spain

Luton and District

Luton and District inherited 3 series 1, 22 series 2, and 36 series 3 a total of 61 vehicles.

947 had been repainted in readiness for the launch of the new company. Several second-hand VR’s appeared over the first few years with 798-800, 913 arriving from Milton Keynes, a batch from Lincolnshire and a trio of Leyland powered ones from South Wales.  Various red and ivory, later county cream variations were applied over the next few years. 756/74, 824 were the only VR’s that never got out of green. 756/74 going in Jan 89, 824 lasting to Jan 90. Both the remaining series 1 vehicles were repainted in early 89 to the third style of red/cream, they were to last only a year before going for scrap.  A major repaint of 10 series 2 VR’s into the pencil case livery was carried out over the summer of 1988 mostly going to Luton, these lasted for quite a few years and were added to a couple of years late. They were intended for use only on schools and school trips but I remember they were often used on service work in Luton and I know a photo exists of one on a 280 Aylesbury – Thame. One of which, 812, became another fire victim in the summer of 95 when it burst into flames leaving the M1 at Luton on a day trip back from Chessington. .Advert buses were a major source of income in the early L&D years 956 never carried any LDT or Arriva livery yet it lasted until July 2000. Again like United Counties most adverts were on Series 3 vehicles but ultra low heights 805/13-5/23 were all treated to adverts. Several of these were done on a not for profit basis for charity, while others were done in deals with advertisers like local radio on a scratch my back basis. Withdrawals commenced with 868 destroyed by an electrical fire in October 87, 869 were to go up in smoke the same way in late 1992. The first normal withdrawals were 756/74/80 in Jan 89, on arrival of the F633-44 LMJ Olympians, 756 passed to the fire brigade for rescue purposes before going for scrap, several other LDT vehicles also passed this way.  769 was held back for a while in 1990 for play bus conversion but no sponsor was found, it then passed for scrap. Around this time the livery was altered again to the former London Country North West style, but Red and Cream. The first VR to see further service was 864 converted to a play bus and exported to South Africa in 1996. 851 was the last to be painted to a contract livery (for West Herts. College) and allocated to Watford in Jan 97, it arrived in Miami still in this livery.  877 was deroofed yards from Castle Street Garage in late 97 was never to run again.

934 was transferred with Transign blinds, these were later removed and a recycled unit fitted from the scrap line. 946 was fitted for a while with a bright-tec unit similar to those fitted to later Olympians.

35 vehicles were still active at the end of 1995, this dropped to 9 by the end of 1999. (837/99, 925/33/4/8/46/56/60)

Red and Cream livery was to disappear from 1995 with a new Blue and Yellow appearing, initial plans were for no VRs to be done 825/37/52/3/5/99, 900/25/32-4/8/57/60 had all appeared in these colours by mid 1997 most were Dunstable vehicles. 837 and 938 were the last done in 8/97.

A major renumbering took place in March 1997 which involved series 2, 779/97, 802/15/24 series 3, 837/51-5/65/77/93-5/7/9, 900/18/25/8/9/32-4/46/7/51/5-7/60 for this article I will retain old fleet numbers. The last series 2 model lasted here until 802’s demise in Aug 98. 851 spent the last 18 months of its life allocated to the former NW garage at Garston in contract livery; this was to be the only move of a native VR to a former NW garage. As disposals quickened some vehicles departed intact, all early disposals were robbed of any reusable parts. Several later vehicles were to see service with other operators, some are listed below.

A new garage was opened in Dunstable Road Luton, in September 01; this replaced both Dunstable and Luton, being located further away from town VRs were used amongst others as ferry buses for crew changeovers.

As late as 2000 several VRs were still in all day service, most days one was allocated to trunk route 38 (Dunstable- Luton).

A cull at the end of the summer school term in 2000, when the Tridents arrived, took the fleet down to 3, 946 was withdrawn at this time still in red, but with the later style Luton & Dunstable fleet names and looking very tatty for the last couple of years.  (933/8/56).

A late twist was to occur in Feb 2003 when 933 was repainted along with 2 former M&D machines into an all over tangerine livery for school bus duties. The other two native vehicles advert liveried 956 went in 10/02 with blue/yellow 938 going in   4/03.

Disposals of interest

851           Miami Decker Tours USA, believed not used

864           Play bus South Africa

897           Classic Buses Amsterdam

938           Became a chicken shed in the West Country a couple of years ago.

Into Preservation.

Quite a few vehicles have been recorded as passing to preservation, these are from all three fleets, these include

757/67/75/8/94          801           919/23/33/52/6.

As of yet very few are on the rally scene

RRP753G one of the UC rebuilds is seen in Luton heading home to its Aylesbury base. The fleet name on 753 was a style unique to Aylesbury. THN 865R alongside was a long term Luton vehicle. Both vehicles have lost their opening upper deck front windows.


LBD837P was one of the first batch of series 3 vehicles they were unique in having a two piece destination glass as per series 2 standards. Here it’s in Dunstable on a trunk 39 working from Luton in Feb 2000, No VRs were meant to be painted in this livery but plenty were,


Series 2  JRP796/5L are seen at rest at the now closed Dunstable Garage, these were part of a fleet of 12 series 2 repainted into a special school bus livery, and must have been some of the first purely school bus livered buses in the UK.


CBD901T was transferred to MK with the 1986 split, here seen at Bletchley Bus Station in the broad white band livery, and UC style City bus fleet name, the advert was part of a UK campaign across many NBC fleets. The VR behind is in the first MK City bus livery, believed to be 800. This bus was one of many that passed to Eastern National in Oct 86. 

ANV775J is seen post rebuild on a Bedford local service in 1986, the blue fleet plate indicates it is a Bedford vehicle and indeed lasted many years at Bedford. After UC service it went to the Isle of Skye, but is now preserved locally, by is yet to appear on the rally scene. 


HBD916T was one of many colorbuses with UC, Bedford at one time had almost a dozen, most repaints were done at Bedford with quite a few vehicles running for a few days in plain white before the addition of graphic. 916 was another long term Bedford bus 

This is not a full history of the native VR’s to United Counties but a potted history of the last standard decker for this area it’s compiled from my records and help from PSV Circle newssheets and other sources. An article in a magazine about 10 years ago called the UC fleet standard, with 20 livery variations plus anniversary, contract and colorbus liveries. The rebuilds and various tweaks to body styles over the years I  would disagree. 

For more photos, VRs and other vehicles from the recent past, please visit 

Recollections for the 70s by Marcus Lapthorn

Slide 199: Bournemouth Corporation no. 138 at Southampton on 7 May 1979 

Slide 222: Southern Vectis no. OT5 at Southampton on 7 May 1979

Another Bristol of interest now in preservation. 

From Steve Warwick 

Our Bristol RELL UEL564J made it to it's new home in Bucks yesterday from Newcastle-under-Lyme.

Having just gained her Class 5 MOT and taxed she set off down the M6 at a steady 45mph never missed a beat with that lovely 'Bristol' whine. 

From Malcolm Hyland 

Our Bristol RE made the journey from Stoke to Bucks on Saturday, having just gained her Class 5 MOT and taxed she set off down the M6 at a steady 45mph never missed a beat with that lovely 'Bristol' whine.

Work to get the bus fit for the road was undertaken at Reliance Bus Works, Chesterton to a very high standard. The major task was to completely replace the step area and pictures of this work can be seen by going this this link -

My good friend Dave Brundrit, who runs RML Travel was kind enough to look after the bus, until it was roadworthy and it is in his yard that the picture in the last edition was taken.

Malcolm & Steve


Thanks to all my contributors who help to make this page what it is.

Malcolm Crowe - Monday 14th July 2008

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

 News of the local companies – 14th July 2008

Glenn Knight writes "At High Wycombe yesterday 30/06/08 - 3330, M234TBV on 37 to Maidenhead, 3128, M728OMJ going to 33 Castlefield, 3117, M717OMJ on 33 to Totteridge and 3145, N695EUR on 32 Micklefield."

Glenn Knight.

In Leighton Buzzard  3119, M719OMJ was showing 261.
Glenn Knight.

Pictures by Peter Cabin and Gavin Francis showing 3172 and 3173 from HH on the 52 in Wycombe.

Another HH bus on the 52, this 4524 in a picture by Gavin Francis taken in Wycombe.

Last week in Watford - Arriva variety in Watford by Gavin Francis

This is the bus we showed last week which is now a canteen at Watford Junction - pictures by Gavin Francis.

A revised super rear ad on 5129 at Wycombe. Gavin Francis.

Serving Wheatley, Arriva variety on the 280, last week.

Variety on the 797 - I think they must be waiting for vehicle changes. Picture by Gavin Francis.

Line 40 operated by Solo 2497, stops to board passengers in West Wycombe last week.

One of the days last week saw an Wycombe Bus Darts operating a morning Line 40 service.

Revisions to the 52 (HH) and the 362 now 62 (HW) routes.

Showing the new route number for the Chesham service, 3331 in Wycombe. Gavin Francis.

Arriva in Hemel took out a whole page advertisement in the local Hemel Gazette to promote the new through service from Hemel to High Wycombe. This is being extended as a single journey between the two towns. The tiny hamlet of Whelpley Hill off the main B4505 between Bovingdon and Chesham sees only a schooldays only early am service towards Chesham and an afternoon one from Chesham. The new service will now call at the former RAF airfield at Bovingdon (next to the prison) on Saturdays only for the giant market held there. In the Arriva advertisement the service was called `LINE 52/62`. However, Arriva's mini timetable simply referred to it as `52.62`

F27JRC a Scania K93CRB Alexander with ARRIVA Fox County  


Glenn Knight advises that "Drivers have been told that from August 2008 easyBus EB2 will run from Harlow depot instead of Luton."

This would account for a white Merc running around Stansted with a load of drivers earlier this week.


Contracted operator for the 336 between Chesham and Watford is Carousel who use specially liveried DAFs.

Picture By Gavin Francis in Watford.


The last remaining days of R248 XDA Centrebus seen at Studham on late X31 with Mercedes K510FYN now been scrapped.


Dart 566, W566XRO involved in a bad R.T.A on 88 nr Hitchin.

Glenn Knight has provided updated fleet lists for Centrebus.


                                           Woodside Depot



103   J103 DUV Dennis Dart 8.5SDL3010 Plaxton Pointer B24F Ex-London Buses Ltd DR103

106   J648 XHL Dennis Dart 9.8SDL3004 Plaxton B40F Ex-Plaxton,Scarborough

110   L710 JUD Dennis Dart 9.8SDL3035 Plaxton Pointer B37D Ex-MK Metro 710

111   M210 EGF Dennis Dart Plaxton Pointer B35F Ex-London General DPL10

112   L712 JUD Dennis Dart 9.8SDL3035 Plaxton Pointer B40D Ex-M K Metro 712

113   L713 JUD Dennis Dart 9.8SDL3035 Plaxton Pointer B38D Ex-M K Metro 713

114   M214 EGF Dennis Dart Plaxton Pointer B35F Ex-London General DPL14

181   XIL 6081 Ex-K860 LGN Dennis Dart 929HMN1080 Plaxton B34F Ex-London Buses Ltd DRL60

118   XIL 8418 Ex-K866 LGN Dennis Dart 9SDL3016 Plaxton Pointer B34F Ex-London General

121   M821 RCP Dennis Dart 9.8SDL3040 Plaxton Pointer B40F Ex-Centrebus Leicester

124   J374 GKH Dennis Dart 8.5SDL3010 Plaxton Pointer B24F Ex-London Buses Ltd DR74

125   J125 DUV Dennis Dart 8.5SDL3010 Plaxton Pointer B24F Ex-London Buses Ltd DR125

126   J126 DUV Dennis Dart 8.5SDL3010 Plaxton Pointer B24F Ex-London Buses Ltd DR126

128   K828 NKH Dennis Dart 9SDL3016 Plaxton B34F Ex-London Buses Ltd CRL28

129   M829 RCP Dennis Dart 9.8SDL3054 Northern Counties B39F Ex-Country Hopper, Ibstock

130   K863 PCN Dennis Dart 9.8SDL3017 Wright Handybus B40F Ex-Sunderland & District 8063

134   J134 DUV Dennis Dart 8.5SDL3010 Plaxton Pointer B24F Ex-London Buses Ltd DR134

148   KUI 8148 Ex-H118 THE Dennis Dart 8.5SDL3003 Reeve Burgess B28F Ex-Roberts, Coalville

158   P158 MLE Dennis Dart Plaxton B37F Ex-Centrebus Leicester & Armchair, Brentford

160   P160 MLE Dennis Dart Plaxton B37F Ex-Centrebus Leicester & Armchair, Brentford

170   J370 GKH Dennis Dart 8.5SDL3010 Plaxton Pointer B24F Ex-London Buses Ltd DR70

189   M389 KVR Dennis Dart 9.8SDL3054 Northern Counties B37F Ex-Country Hopper, Ibstock

301   FJ08 MBU Optare Solo M950 B33F (New 2008)

302   FJ08 MBV Optare Solo M950 B29F (New 2008)

303   FJ08 MBO Optare Solo M950 B33F (New 2008)

410   K510 FYN Mercedes Benz 811D Wright Nimbus B28F Ex-MK Metro

431   Y131 TBF Mercedes-Benz 814D Plaxton Beaver B31F (new)

448   R248 XDA Mercedes Benz 814D Alexander B27F Ex-West Midlands 248

502   S502 APP Dennis Dart SLF Plaxton Pointer B39F Ex-Sovereign 502

503   KUI 6564 Ex-S782 RNE & 98-D-70567 Dennis Dart SLF Plaxton B38F Ex-K~Line,Huddersfield

511   T411 LGP Dennis Dart SLF SCC B30D Ex-Independent Way,Battersea

516   S466 LGN Dennis Dart SLF Plaxton Pointer B29F Ex-Centrebus, Leicester

519   T419 LGP Dennis Dart SLF SCC B30D Ex-Independent Way,Battersea

521   Y451 TBF Dennis Dart SLF Plaxton Pointer B29F (new)

522   W922 JNF Dennis Dart SLF Plaxton Pointer B29F Ex-Connex DP22

566   W566 XRO Dennis Dart SLF Plaxton Pointer B40F Ex-Sovereign 566

594   X194 FOR Dennis Dart SLF Caetano B42F Ex-Amos, Daventry-Burtons & Centrebus Leicester

601   FH06 KGK VDL SB120 Plaxton B40F (new)

602   KE06 NZW VDL SB120 Plaxton B40F (new)

603   KE06 NZX VDL SB120 Plaxton B40F (new)

604   KE06 RXL VDL SB120 Plaxton B40F (new)

628   K628 YPL Dennis Dart 9.8SDL3025 Plaxton Pointer B40F Ex-Safeguard,Guildford

710   L170 EKG Scania N113CRB Alexander B48F Ex-Newport Transport 70          

On Loan from Dealer

Gone away for repair


On-Loan to opposite garage

Gone to Centrebus North (Bowers, Derbyshire etc.)

Recent Addition 

                                         Pin Green Depot


107    P27 MLE Dennis Dart Plaxton B37F Ex-Centrebus Leicester & Armchair, Brentford

132    N132 XND Dennis Dart Plaxton B40F Ex-Stuart,Dunkinfield 132

304    FJ08 MBF Optare Solo M880 B29F (New 2008)

363    S285 NRB Optare Solo M920 B33F Ex-Nottingham 285

364    T297 BNN Optare Solo M920 B33F Ex-Nottingham 297 

365    T298 BNN Optare Solo M920 B33F Ex-Nottingham 298 

382    MX53 FEG Optare Solo M850 B29F Ex-Winson,Leicester 91

383    MX53 FEH Optare Solo M850 B29F Ex-Winson,Leicester 92

387    MX03 YCM Optare Solo B29F Ex-Cumfybus, Churchtown

388    Y38 HBT Optare Solo M850 B29F Ex-First Somerset & Avon 53039

389    Y39 HBT Optare Solo M850 B29F Ex-First Somerset & Avon 53038

390    MX03 YDA Optare Solo M850 B26F Ex-Ex-Even, Birkenhead

391    VU02 TSV Optare Solo M920 B29F Ex-Ex-Irvine, Law

392    VU02 TSX Optare Solo M920 B29F Ex-Ex-Irvine, Law

393    MX07 JNL Optare Solo M780SL B23F (new)

394    MX07 JNN Optare Solo M780SL B23F (new)

395    MX07 BCF Optare Solo M920 B33F (new)

423    R823 MJU Mercedes Benz 814D B32F Ex-Kinch, Barrow

501    P501 VRO Dennis Dart SLF Plaxton Pointer B39F Ex-Sovereign 501

512    S462 LGN Dennis Dart SLF Plaxton Pointer B29F Ex-Centrebus Leicester

605    FJ56 YBV  VDL SB120 Plaxton B40F (new)

606    FJ56 YBW VDL SB120 Plaxton B40F (new)

607    FJ56 ZWC VDL SB120 Plaxton B40F (new)

608    YJ56 JYB VDL SB120 Plaxton B40F (new)

Glenn has also been to Leicester sending these comments "Just a few photos for you Visited Centrebus in Leicester and got these photos also of the new Scania East Lancs deckers and Scania Solars .. D894NDA  844, G101PES 801 (new livery), P29MLE 109, P32MLE 102, W618 YNB 508 & YN08 OAP 903 . Centrebus J125/6 DUV, J370/4 GKH scrap, two more solos for Stevenage P29/32MLE due for Luton and W985WDS 585 has arrived at Luton yesterday."

The old, the new and nearly transferred at Leicester.

Excel Stansted

New coach for the Ipswich service displaying a revised livery last week.

An elderly Volvo still in service with Excel - Stansted Transit.

Stephen Le Bras advises that "130708 - Last of the Citaros 64046 was being operated on the 71/77 today. It has yet to receive its fleet numbers. 

53057 was running on the 3- last of the purples!"

Gavin recorded one of the Citaros in Wycombe earlier last week.

Ben Morroll caught up with this Green Line coach on a Heathrow working from Reading.

The X30 between Stansted and Southend is due for new coaches. This mini coach advertises this fact.

McLeans coaches

On tour in Lancaster and caught by Gez.

Motts Coaches

On tour to Eastbourne and picking up at Hemel.

Three Levantes in Gloucester Green caught by Richard Sharman.

New Tri-Axle Levante based at Stagecoach - Gloucester for services to London. Pictures by Gavin Francis.

The coaches used on  the now curtailed VT98 service are working on the "7s" through Stansted.
Pictures by Gavin Francis and myself.

The business of changing a livery or branding can be time consuming.
This is illustrated in the picture above of a crew contracted by National Express to change the branding our the current fleet.
This includes the Stagecoach operated Levantes at Oxford.

It would appear that a slight change to livery is taking place with wheels being painted silver. Confirmation would be appreciated.

The first P&R Trident seen with silver wheels. Gavin Francis.

Gavin took this atmospheric shot of two Tridents in the city.

Seems that OBC are also using the system of looping the city to avoid over congesting Gloucester Green,
This has been done by The Oxford Tube since the introduction of the Neoplans and an allowance of only two coaches at a time in the Green.
Picture by Gavin Francis.

Reading Buses - inc. Newbury Buses

Ben Morroll recently visited Reading and sent some very nice shots of the latest members of the current fleet. Don't forget to visit Rob Williams's site which covers Reading in detail.

Dart 609 in the Newbury fleet. The official web site says this bus has a different registration?

R H Transport

Thanks to Richard Sharman we have nice pictures of RH for this issue including one taken at North Weald.

I like this picture - A Hurricane and a Solo.

RH's 601 which is looking very smart indeed.


 The Scania double decks have now become part of the Oxford scene and reports from passengers and crews alike say these are very comfortable buses indeed.

Richard Sharman's picture shows three of these new buses in George Street one morning a few days ago.

The training fleet is now entirely made of Volvo coaches as seen in this Sunday morning at the Excel parking site.
Note that each one is slightly different, enabling instant recognition to those in the know.

Sometimes if a Scania is unavailable, an M A N still puts in an appearance on the 20.
Gavin Francis took this picture of 22920 with branding for the 7 on this route.

I had hoped to have some pictures of the British Grand Prix event at Silverstone but this is so far the only one received.
Richard Sharman caught Dart 34470 on service GP10 on the day.


The new M A N s are now fulfilling all the needs of the 66 and are very popular with both drivers and passengers alike. They certainly are long as these pictures from Marcus Lapthorn show.

Seen in and around Faringdon, 22623 and 22626.
Big buses in a very small town square encounter congestion! Faringdon - Tuesday 1 July 2008 @ 1132.

Contrast in styles between the old and the new on Saturday 12 July in traffic free Coxwell Road, Faringdon. One of the new MAN buses is on its way to Oxford whilst former performer on the 66 route is 20689 being used on what could be termed the 'short working' of the 66 route which is route 65 from Faringdon to Swindon via the villages. 

The Volvos previously used on the 66 route for many years were all due to move to Gloucester to be used on the 98 route, but clearly not all of the old buses have moved. 20682 was used on the 65 route last Saturday and today 20689, which has been a regular performer on route 51 from Swindon to Cheltenham for many years.

One of the former regular 66 route performers, no. 20682 has not left for Gloucester yet as it was on the 65 route (Swindon to Faringdon only) on Saturday 5 July.

Warwickshire - East.

Volvo B12, YN08OWK was on VT99 on 11.07.2008 at Milton Keynes (Glenn Knight)

Richard Sharman took this picture of Volvo 20853 on a Sunday X5 working.

Ben Morroll sent these excellent pictures of Thames Travel at work in Reading.


Michael Wootten has advised that Leyland Tiger / East Lancs Myllennium MSL469X has become WWW 883 this week. This leaves just THL290Y and DFP492Y to be changed.

All the Myllenniums are being fitted with Hanover displays with B11WTN, A12WTN, WWW883 and THL290Y being the first to be converted. New photographs attached for your interest.

If you have a digital camera and wish to submit photos for this page please send them to the me at

I found this coach parked up in Piddington and wondered if any readers could shed some light on its origins etc?

A Tourist double deck coach on layover at Oxpens. Picture by Richard Sharman.

Something to close on !

Sometimes a contribution seems not to fit in any particular place in the News. This is the case this week as Gavin Francis attended a steam rally and I really liked the pictures and thought readers might also appreciate a different theme.

Prestwood Steam Rally 2008
Photos by Gavin Francis

A note regarding photographs which show drivers faces.
Following one complaint from a bus driver in Oxford but considering the fact that the photographs are taken of the vehicle not any person,
I will blank out the face to avoid any discomfort to the individual concerned. If you are the person involved send me an email to have this action taken.
I am sure people will realise that to ask everyone in advance of publication, whose face may appear in a picture is wholly impractical in both time and practice.
I am sorry to have to mention such a matter but we now live in a world of human rights and political correctness which must be considered.

Sim Bowman has written regarding his web site and I thought this would prove useful to anyone wanting to visit our area and intending to stay overnight in the Chilterns.

Accommodation in the Chilterns

Spring is in the air! Visit the Chilterns and then, why not stay for a while? If your looking for a country cottage, a pub, an inn or hotel in the UK within easy reach of London, then we think you may have found the answer. Lying only a few miles north-west of London, the Chilterns are a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty lying within the counties of Bedfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Hertfordshire, Oxfordshire, Berkshire and the Thames Valley and there are literally hundreds of places to stay and things to do in the Chilterns to choose from.

The Chilterns remain an unspoilt area of gently rolling chalk hills, perfect walking country with beautiful beech woods full of wildlife, quiet valleys and charming brick and flint villages with welcoming pubs, inns and hotels.
The Ridgeway, an official National Trail, runs from one end to the other and with a myriad of other footpaths the Chilterns offer easily accessible walking in beautiful countryside and only half an hour from north London!

So, if you're looking for holiday accommodation, a short stay or maybe just something to do for the day in the Chilterns - we can help! The Let's Stay Chilterns holiday accommodation and tourist guide features everything from self catering and VB inspected Chilterns holiday cottages, budget and luxury Chilterns hotels, Chilterns bed and breakfast accommodation, guest houses, Chilterns camping and caravanning sites, Chilterns pubs and inns, pet friendly places, properties with facilities for wheelchair users, restaurants, attractions, things to do in the Chilterns and much more.

For more information on the Chiltern Hills please see our new
Chilterns Guide.

For more images of the Chilterns and other areas click here.

Altogether a very useful site.

Trident model with an Oxford flavour

ukbus 1036 Alexander Dennis ALX400-bodied Trident

 Stagecoach in Oxfordshire

Creative Master Northcord is proud to release a brand new livery on its well-known casting – the Alexander Dennis ALX400-bodied Trident. This is ukbus 1036 carrying standard Stagecoach livery but with special route branding livery.

This model represents Stagecoach in Oxfordshire 18394 (KX55 TLN). This is the second Stagecoach in Oxfordshire ADL ALX400-bodied Trident model that CMNL produced. The previous one is ukbus 1026 with Brookes bus colours. 

Stagecoach in Oxfordshire 18394 is one of a fleet of seven Tridents introduced onto route 27 in March 2006 to replace Volvo B10M single deckers. Route 27 operates between Oxford and Bicester up to every 15 minutes at busy times with three main route variants around Bicester – 27A to Glory Farm and Launton, 27B to Glory Farm and Langford and 27C to Ambrosden and Arncott. 

18394 is one of three vehicles which carry supplementary branding for the Bicester Duo ticket which was introduced during 2007. The ticket allows two people to travel from Bicester to Oxford for the price of one.


The replica features excellent detailing, inside and out, including an opening engine door, engine detail and the representation of LED lights at the rear. This is a one-piece casting whose clean lines accentuate the windows and livery application on which all logos and lettering are clearly legible. The model has no unnecessary metal poles to hold it together.  

It will be a good opportunity to make a twin Stagecoach in Oxfordshire bus model set with ukbus 1036 and ukbus 1025 representing the common street scene in Oxford.

PSV Circle publishes latest issue of the fleet list for Berkshire and Oxfordshire

Ken MacKenzie writes to note that the new PSV Circle fleet list for Berkshire/Oxfordshire (G432) is now available.

Those readers wishing to buy a copy should write to: PSV Circle, 59 Palmer Avenue, Cheam SM3 8EF - Cost id £7.00 plus 50p P & P and it will also be available at the PSV Circle sales stand at Showbus 2007.

This will be a most useful reference for all those interested in the local scene.

Editors review - I have now had chance to review this book and it is indeed very useful, giving details of all known fleets in Berks and Oxon. Whilst some information is not totally up to date it allows the readers to have a comprehensive view of the local fleets and up dates can be gained by joining the PSV Circle. At £7.00 this represents value for money as it also includes a number of good photographs.


A new casting with a local flavour has been released by Britbus as a picture from Mark Lyons shows. It is a nice model but as Mark says, a little pricey at £33.

Model News of an Oxford bus

Guy writes to send a picture of the latest offering on the model front related to Oxford.


A photo disc for your collection

This week I can bring details of a really super new photo disc from Vics cliix. The disc contains pictures taken in the early 1970s by Vic Zealey and copies can be obtained through Malcolm Hyland's web site

Here are some samples of the 158 pictures on this disc.

The quality is good and they are all at high resolution.

Oxford Bus 125 commemorative book

In last week's issue I mentioned that Oxford Bus were publishing a book to commemorate the 125 years of public transport in Oxford. Thanks to Phil Ashworth I have had a review copy and hereunder give my thoughts on this book.

The book is well presented and includes a number of historical pictures of interest including some I had not seen before. The modern pictures have received a nice treatment reflecting the modern fleet against a background of typical Oxford architecture. The Botley Road rail bridge gets a mention and a picture of an AEC pre war decker which has done battle with said bridge and come off worse from its encounter is included.

The book, whilst rather small to reflect the 125 years in detail is nevertheless a must for all who love Oxford, historians and enthusiasts alike.

Copies of the book can be bought from the Oxford Bus Company, Cowley House, Watlington Rd, Oxford OX4 6GA. The cost is £5.95 including postage. Cheques should be made payable to "Oxford Bus Company", it is also available in person from the Oxford Bus Museum during normal opening hours. 

DVD s by Robin Clare -

Robin sent me a copy of his latest DVD to review. "Today's buses - Oxfordshire" is the compelling title which includes Henley, Wallingford and Didcot before the viewer is taken onto Wantage, Witney, Banbury and finally Bicester. Each of these locations is covered in2 to 5 minutes and each shows the current selection of buses and coaches to be found. Finally over 37 minutes is devoted to Oxford with filming in a variety of locations in the city.

On another subject the road sense and behaviour of cyclists in Oxford has to be seen to be believed!!!!

The quality of the DVD is excellent and one can really see clearly the details of each vehicle, something which older video always seemed unable to do. All the latest developments are shown in this September 2007 DVD, including workings from Broad Street during the St Giles Fair weekend.

The DVD provides a unique record of events in Oxfordshire during this period and at £10 is not a very large outlay.

Robin Clare Transport Video
74 Polruan Place, Fishermead,
Milton Keynes MK6 2EA

The full details of DVDs available from Robin Clare may be found at his web site :-

Citaro models

Dave Rogers sent the following press release.


Mercedes-Benz Citaro - ukbus 5004 Arriva Manchester  -  ukbus 5007 Oxford Bus


Creative Master Northcord Limited is proud to release two brand new liveries on its well known Mercedes-Benz Citaro casting. Both models have received significant, yet different, modifications to the tooling in order to represent, as close to 100% accuracy as possible, the real buses on the roads. 

ukbus 5004 represents fleet number Arriva North West’s 2851 (CX55 EAA). This Mercedes Citaro is one of three such vehicles with dedicated route branding for service 700 and with the destination set to Manchester. The model features a redesigned interior layout that includes the reduced seating capacity and luggage racks. 

Starting on 29th October 2005, Arriva North West’s service 700 runs from Manchester’s Piccadilly Railway Station to Liverpool’s John Lennon Airport. For the service, 3 Mercedes-Benz Citaro buses were purchased and numbered 2851-3. They were painted in the same style and colours as the Scania OmniCity buses that already operated between John Lennon and Liverpool city centre. 

ukbus 5007 represents fleet number 830 (X13 OXF) of Oxford Bus Company. 830 entered service in December 2003, to upgrade the X3 & X13 Oxford – Abingdon services. The bus was painted in a new and distinctive livery designed by Best Impressions. 

ukbus 5007 features the smooth, curved windscreen with the destination display set behind the windscreen glass rather than the protruding destination found on the Park & Ride Citaros in the fleet. This feature is one of the standard specifications on other Citaros that the Go-Ahead Group has purchased. 

Mercedes-Benz Citaro ukbus 5004 and 5007 models are each a one-piece casting whose clean lines accentuate the square-mounted, double-glazed windows and the livery application on which all logos and lettering are clearly legible. Another main feature on both models is the extensive portrayal of handrails. The headlight / indicator units at the front and indicator / tail light units at the rear are made of individual components to look more realistic.


The brand new single-door Mercedes-Benz Citaro bus models will be distributed by John Ayrey Die-Casts Limited (UK), Porte Publishing Company (Japan) and Concorde Hobby Shop (HK) respectively. The ukbus 5004 and 5007 models are limited to 1700 pieces worldwide respectively. 


Would readers who respond to the above please quote my site when doing so.

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Visit the "OXFORD BUS PAGE" Archive 1998 - 2002

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


These are nine most interesting sites which I do recommend

Bus Zone Logo (2421 bytes)

Mike Penn's photo page with much from Bedfordshire, Hertfordshire as well as Buckinghamshire

Chris Lowe's Photo page - mainly North West UK

John Marsh's pictures with a difference

The Oxford Bus Museum

Ray Jackson Art

A web site which has paintings of buses.
Nice present for a Christmas or Birthday wish list !!


Stagecoach Handbook for 2008
from British Bus Publishing

Arriva Handbook for 2007-2008
from British Bus Publishing

The latest handbooks are now on sale, the ever
popular Stagecoach edition now in its 15th year.


Bus Services in Buckinghamshire

Bus services in Oxfordshire

Bus services in Hertfordshire

Hertfordshire Logo/link

Where are the Chilterns?

Visit this informative site through the link below.

back to home page
Map showing the Chilterns Hills beginning in Oxfordshire in the Thames Valley and stretching north-east through Buckinghamshire and Bedfordshire to Hitchin in Hertfordshire. The highest points are over 250m. There are various water courses running from the Chilterns to the South East.

Visit the "OXFORD BUS PAGE" Archive 1998 - 2002

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