Oxford Chiltern Bus Page

Spottings & Jottings

Issue nr 51 - October 31st 2011

Version 2 - 2nd November 2011 with missing Blackpool story by Geoff Cunliffe

Visit the "OXFORD & CHILTERN BUS PAGE " Current archives from October 2002

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

A slighter shorter gap between issues on this one which has been helped by a long weekend off from my driving duties.

Quite a lot has been happening in our area and there are as ever a large number of pictures submitted by readers.

Perhaps some of the most significant pictures received were from Gavin Francis of an enormous wicker man, over 30ft high, which appeared alongside the M40 on the cutting above junction 6. This was to publicise a firework event to support Maggie's Cancer Caring Centres.

This certainly caused some attention as it was illuminated at night and stood out from a very great distance.

Pictures of the Wicker Man by the M40 taken by Gavin Francis.
Maybe these should be in "Buses in the Landscape"?

Bus fire closes the M40

In the last issue I mentioned a coach fire and received a picture of this event. The coach belonged to Silverdale but further details have so far been impossible to obtain.

Friday 7 October, 6.05pm: Coach fire, M40 east southbound between junctions 5 (Stokenchurch) and 4 (Handy Cross). Five fire engines attended and when I saw the coach over an hour later it was just a structural shell and apart from the fact that it was a single decker I could not determine what type it was and as there was nothing left its ownership was also impossible to determine.

The motorway was closed between junc 5 and 4 for several hours resulting in heavy congestion on alternative roads for a very long time.

The coach was totally destroyed and the framework alone made it difficult to determine its type!

Wycombe bus station exit rebuilt

Paul Goodwin writes "On a more local issue, the exit at High Wycombe bus station was rebuilt on a recent Thursday and Friday night including re-profiling to stop buses grounding."

Newbury & District History now available

Paul Lacey has now released his long awaited history of Newbury & District.

The book covers the whole history of this fascinating company which although based in Newbury was seen in Oxford, Harwell and many surrounding areas.

A Guy Arab on the Oxford service and seen at Gloucester Green.

Its coaches were often hired by South Midland who ran between Oxford & London and there was quite a lot of interchange between the fleets, when both owned by Red & White.

The company ran from 1932 until 1951 but its memory lingers on within Newbury and recent changes there reflect this.

The book is exceptionally well researched and contains many photographs plus memories and fleet lists of the company and its constituents.

One of the constituent companies was Denham's.

Apart from the archaic Leylands, the company ran some AEC Regals after the war.
These were rebodied with ECOC/ECW bodies purchased from North Western Road Car, Stockport via dealers.
They had been new in 1936 on Bristol Jo5G chassis which were rebodied with Brush bodies in 1946 to a similar design.
Your Editor must have travelled on one of these buses, when in NWRCC service, as a small boy.
They would have doubtless run on service to Highclere, now well known as the house is featured in Downton Abbey.

The cover price is £25.00 but you can get the publication at a special price of £20.00 for OCBP readers.

Just mention OCBP when ordering from:

Paul Lacey,
17 Sparrow Close
Berkshire RG41 3HT.

nic public sculpture ‘Hand of God’ by Lorenzo Quinn installed on Park Lane


When readers take copies of pictures from the OCBP site 


Some of the contributors to this site have noticed that their pictures are appearing on e-bay sites selling such things.


Needless to say this is a theft of copyright and one which I deplore!


I would not wish to have to watermark photographs, thereby making them unsalable as such but if this practice continues I shall be left with no alternative. I am sure this would detract from the pleasure so many of you get from the OCBP.


May I please ask readers to do two things?


1/ If you see any photos on sale please let me know and where they are appearing.


2/ If you are someone who has copied and sold photos please desist as this is theft and I will have to take legal action against anyone found doing so.


The site is free to all readers and I pay a price to publish the pages which is not passed on.


Please respect those freedoms and I hope I may not have to mention this matter again.


Oxfordshire Bus Enthusiasts Society 

The Oxfordshire Bus Enthusiasts Society was formed in June 2010 and aims to provide an informal monthly social meeting in  Oxford for those with an interest in buses. Meetings are normally held on the 3rd Tuesday of each month and normally take the form of a picture  show with local and guest speakers.  A small charge is made to cover the cost of hiring the function room and this is usually around £1 for members per meeting depending on numbers.  For non-members a charge of £2 per head is made.

Next meeting: Nov 15th - Around Britain by Bus by Graham Low / Chris Bates

19.30pm - 21.30pm

Meetings are held in the upstairs function room at:

The Folly Bridge Inn

38 Abingdon Road



Some limited parking at the back of the pub, also close to bus stops (frequent X3/X13 or 35 routes stop outside)

or a short walk from Oxford City Centre - For directions click HERE 


All meetings start at 19.30pm although you are welcome to come along beforehand for food in the bar.

Future meetings are planned as follows:
Dec 13th - Pictures from the John Law collection (Britain/Worldwide from 1960's onwards) by John Law (visiting speaker).

A detailed programme of meetings can be found at the following link and we hope many of you will attend future meetings.



The level of contribution to this page by readers is excellent! Thank you. 

Malcolm Crowe - Editor - OCBP - October 31st 2011.


Observations and pictures 

Simon Hussey writes "I've sorted out some pictures I took in Oxford and Reading on July 14th and thought you may be interested in a few."

1. this vehicle looks like a large coach / motorhome from Pangeo tours

2. an Enviro 400 demonstrator SN59 AWV working for Stagecoach.
This bus left the SC fleet a few weeks ago and went straight to Thames Travel.
(see a picture under TT below)

3. Evan Evans Tours 11 Reg Mercedes Benz Coach.
These work into Oxford everyday and can be seen at Oxpens.

4. Virtually brand new Reading Buses 207 

Peter Cabin writes "I took a trip to slough today 05th October 2011 and to my shock a Park & Ride VDL turned up at Wycombe Marsh, this being 3701 KE55CKU.

After a look round in Slough I caught a 353 to Amersham; this bus was 3852 R372TWR.

The next part of my journey was on a 52 to High Wycombe on 3201 R201RBM. Whilst I was out I also saw 3307 W134XRO and 3163 N713EUR working on the 353s.

The strangest sightings of the day were in High Wycombe late in the afternoon, with both 3852 and 3307 turning up. After speaking to the driver of 3852, who brought this bus into the station on service 74, the mystery was cleared up. Apparently the buses on 353s go into Slough then return to High Wycombe as a 74 during the late afternoon. I'm not too sure if that's an easier way of getting back to the depot in service or if there is another reason.

Service 55 Aylesbury to Amersham Hospital is worked by the High Wycombe depot. I saw the recently arrived Solo 2430 X351AUX in the afternoon in Amersham and her working number is clearly visible on the allocation board in the bus station at Wycombe.

The final part of my journey was on DAF 4429 S429MCC on the 32's to Micklefield.

Chris Farmer writes "Just a few snaps that I took in Harlow this week."

Firstly two ex Stagecoach Darts, now being run by SM and Olympian Travel.
Whilst the sides of the buses are in the new owners colours, the roofs tell a different story !
The SM one is ex Stagecoach Devon!

A Dart belonging to TWH (Travel With Hunny) on their 555 route from Harlow to Upshire,
with, shall we say, some interesting destination blinds....

Andrew Morgan (Herts) writes ".....here is the first of two emails (not so many pictures as I thought) .

uno have rebranded DAF 202 for the 601, it was previously branded for the 614 which it still carries on its rear. They have also branded DAF 201 for the 601. Additionally the two hybrid Solos have still not arrived.

uno DAF 202 route 601 branding

uno DAF 202 route 614 rear and side 601 branding

uno DAF 201 route 601 branding

Andrew adds "on the 5th September Mullany's buses of Watford changed their routes around Watford and added some new routes.

One of the changes is that they now, or at least when I went to Watford on Friday 8th of October, is that they use two ex-Stagecoach London Tridents converted to single door on the 385 between Watford and Rickmansworth .

Mullany's Trident V134 MEV

The door conversion on V134 MEV, it was also the same on V159 MEV

llany's Trident V159 MEV 

Adam Green writes to send some Hemel photos.

Photos in Victoria

50223-50206 going to Oxford

Some more local pictures by Adam.

3162 was on the late 52 to Wycombe

3870 was on the 301 to Lister Hospital

5424 was on Route to Aylesbury stopping at Riverside

Quite a few Darts have been running on the 550 recently and here is a photo of 3188 parked up in Hemel Bus Station

3196 has been on the 500 to Watford This week

3302 popped into Hemel Bus Station on the 300/301

3370 was on the 320 to Berry Lane

...and another Dart in Hemel was 3219 on the 52 to Wycombe

Richard Sharman writes "Seen here at Pear Tree Services is one of two new Futuras for Weavaway, this one is seen on route from Duoflex to Moseley's in the process of being made
ready for delivery. These are now leather seated."

OFJ's Century takes a break off the X22 Service on a day out to Bicester Village.

Aylesbury Citaro on Rail at Bicester Station.

An ex Tube under preparation at Grayline, KP04 GKL.

Green Line......in Bicester Market Place on Rail.

Arriva Trainer on Rail.

Ralph Adams writes "I now have a digital camera which I sometimes carry with me. This was useful on Tuesday 11 October, a lorry was delivering in Queen Street at 8.30 and quite a back log of buses built up as it was a very tight squeeze with projecting signs.

Today, Friday 14th October, a double deck (hybrid) was in use on route 10, normally coved by MAN saloons.

David Percy, who drives for Jeffs writes "I have been on Oxford school/swimmer duties all week, keep looking at Tube coaches, but have yet to spot you!!" I am sending three images all taken in Northampton on Heritage day,  10.09.2011.

1, Daimler JVV267G, with a Roe body, I remember these in service, lovely buses, not a rattle to be heard!

2, Another Daimler from before my time! ANH 154 outside the Guildhall.

3, BNH246C, again, another Daimler/Roe combination,  carrying adverts form a local Northampton bakery !

Vernon Dyer writes to send pictures of Plymouth City Transport Leylands "Although way out of Oxford/Chilterns area, but you may be interested in a couple of pictures.

On Sunday 23 October an event was held to mark the 50th anniversary of the ending of the Saltash Ferry across the River Tamar after well over 700 years, because of the opening of the Tamar Bridge. These PCT Leylands of that era were part of the parade."

Fleet News 

 Arriva logo

To confirm the recent arrivals at Wycombe (Cressex depot).

Volvos 3307/8/9/10 have been transferred from Stevenage. These were once the main runners on routes 100/101/102 to Luton from Stevenage. From the same source to Wycombe come Volvos 3457 and 3458. These buses are in interurban livery.


Solo 2430 has come from Luton though was first with MK Bus.

Another ex Stevenage Volvo has been withdrawn. It is 3849.

Dart 3824 has been delicenced following a fire in the rear seats caused by vandalism and one time ex Oxford Dart 3833 (M503VJO) went for scrap in September.

Scanias 3141 and 3161 have been withdrawn at Wycombe. It would also appear that Blue route liveried Scanias 3146 and 3203 are also withdrawn.

Olympian 5147, which for many months retained its 5/6 route branding from its days in Hemel has at last been repainted into interurban livery
and sports a super rear for Wycombe Wanderers.

On the Green Line front Citaros 3908 and 3909, only recently transferred to TGM ownership have returned to Arriva the shires at Garston and are branded for the 321 route.

Pete Cabin writes "Arriva added it was bringing in a fleet of new ‘low floor’ buses in November to make it easier and quicker for commuters to get on and off the buses. This I found on the Bucks Free Press web site."

Glenn Knight says "I popped into Arriva's depot in Southend this afternoon and to my surprise found, stored, ex-Luton & High Wycombe Scanias."

N28KGS 3167 - LN

N32 KGS 3170 - LN

R198 RBM 3198 - LN

R205 RBM 3205 - HW

They also had 6 Optare Versa's 61-reg there for route 9.  

Mark Turner writes re Hemel Hempstead:

"Saw the following Arriva Bus today (15th Oct) in Hemel Fleet Number 3836 (KE53 NFF), on the 52 to High Wycombe. It came in to Hemel from High Wycombe at 11:48am. I noticed it had a digital destination screen that had not, as yet, been programmed.

Arriva 3175 (P175 SRO) is also was fitted with a digital destination screen but this wasn't working. The bus was on routes 4/5 in Hemel on the same day

Can anyone advise if all Hemel buses are going to be fitted with digital screens as they are in High Wycombe and Aylesbury for their allocations?"

Adam Green notes: 

3175 & 3836 have LED Displays

3501 was Broken down on the 2 & 3 on Friday 14th October

5152 was on the 2

took a photo of Gavin on the 737 in Hemel Bus Station 59211

3751 was on the 301 to Lister Hospital
This bus started life in Yorkshire and has been around! 

3190 has disappeared from Hemel Depot has any of the readers seen it around

Andrew Morgan writes to give information and pictures.

Arriva have reacquired Greenline Citaros 3908 and 3909 from TGM for use at Garston on the 321. This is possible as the GL 724 no longer goes to terminal 5 at Heathrow. It now goes to LHR Central Bus Station only and the turn around time there is now 30 mins not 60 mins. The 724 route now has a PVR of seven plus one spare bus.

Ex-Greenline/TGM Citaro 3908 (BU06 HSN) in St Albans on the 321 on 181011.

Some tail end shots of Arriva buses at Luton and Stansted by Gavin Francis.


It must be unusual for a private company competing in a town to have many newer buses

than the incumbent multi-national operating in the same town.
Carousel has many newish buses in service in High Wycombe including this 60 plate Enviro 200. M Crowe.

Whilst this bus started life with Lothian in Edinburgh it was more recently with the failed On a Mission company.
It has now appeared with Heyfordian and is seen at Wheatley on school duties. M Crowe.

An older member of the school bus fleet is this ex Arriva decker with Midland Red style registration seen in Stokenchurch by Gavin Francis.

A much more modern member of the Heyfordian fleet is this Solo used from Bicester on the Oxford service, 108 and 118. G. Francis.  


Galloway's have received six Volvo B9R/Caetano Levante coaches for the 250 route from Ipswich to Heathrow. These are also used on the London Victoria service.

Registrations are FJ61EVN,P,R,T,U and V.

One of the new Galloway coaches working through Stansted taken by Gavin Francis.

Hired coaches feature on a regular basis on the A6 service into Victoria. Pictures by Gavin Francis.

Equally coaches from other depots also work the A6, this one is from Crawley. Picture by Gavin Francis.

The Kings Ferry now uses commuter coaches, during their layover in London, on the A6 to Stansted. Pictures by Gavin Francis.

One of the latest additions is this Volvo B13R with Caetano bodywork, three more of which will join The Kings Ferry before year end.
A new 14 metre Volvo Caetano Levante FJ61EXF 59 seater. Delivered 10/10/11 one of a batch of 4.
Picture by Malcolm Crowe.

Not quite sure if this Bennetts Mercedes was on hire to Stagecoach for the 44 when seen in Green Line, London. Picture by M Crowe.

Chenery uses this older Volvo on the 490 to Norwich. These flash brandings are appearing on many coaches now. Picture by Gavin Francis.

More flash branding advertises Heathrow and Gatwick in Oxford's Gloucester Green. Picture by Gavin Francis.

Lucketts have got some recent Caetanos joining their fleet as shown by this 11 plate on the 030 at Victoria. Picture by Gavin Francis.

Stagecoach Oxford's 59211 shows its white roof off at Stansted looking rather different to the older Stansted based tri-axles.
Picture by Gavin Francis.

More flash branding on a Selwyn's Levante in Oxford. Picture by Gavin Francis.

The 767 from Nottingham to Stansted is now worked by Silverdale. Picture by Gavin Francis.

An interesting coach owned by TGM and which only last year, 2010, was in OFJ livery. It is also one of the very few NEx coaches with white wheels.
Picture by Gavin Francis.

Tourists Coaches, part of the Go South Coast empire, now work service 033 into victoria each day.
Pictures by Gavin Francis. 

A tail ending!

Whilst returning a coach to South Gloucester Bus & Coach at Filton, Bristol I came across ex 616, Volvo B10B/Plaxton now all white and with SGBC.

Two of the ex Go Ahead Volvos now with SGBC and old friend L99SGB. Picture by M Crowe.

John Hammond writes "Noted this week at Oxford depot were:

Brighton & Hove Dennis Tridents T807 RFG and T808 RFG, both arrived on Tuesday and are parked at the back of the depot. 902/3 and 908 are also back at Oxford (ex storage at Hilltop) and are parked at the back of the depot.

Ex P&R Trident T109 DBW is out of the paint shop in Thames Travel livery, it has also been converted to single door layout.
It is seen early morning on 29th October in Castle Street, Oxford.  I was told that 107 has gone away for similar conversion.
Pictures by Malcolm Crowe.

I am told that three Tridents, 107, 109 and 112 are now working for Thames Travel and that these will replace leased white buses with that company.

The Volvo B10M converted to a driver training vehicle as 961 is the former 16 - V284 SBW once V16 OXF. This registration is presently carried by a crew bus.

Picture by Malcolm Crowe. 


When returning the loaned Caetano coach FJ60HYV to South Gloucester at Filton I had a short time to look around and have included a picture of ex Oxford 616 above.

I give below details of changes to the current Stagecoach Oxford fleet.

vehicles in reserve




S925 CFC

MAN 18.220 ALX300



S926 CFC

MAN 18.220 ALX300



S933 CFC

MAN 18.220 ALX300



S934 CFC

MAN 18.220 ALX300



S935 CFC

MAN 18.220 ALX300



S936 CFC

MAN 18.220 ALX300



S940 CFC

MAN 18.220 ALX300



S941 CFC

MAN 18.220 ALX300







fleet movements last period






Dennis Dart SLF - Bedford to Banbury



Dennis Dart SLF - Bedford to Banbury





R153 CRW

Dennis Dart SLF - Banbury to Oxford


R155 CRW

Dennis Dart SLF - Banbury to Oxford




S936 CFC

MAN 18.220 - Oxford to Reserve


S941 CFC

MAN 18.220 - Oxford to Reserve





Scania Caetano - Reserve to National Express

News has been released by the company of the imminent delivery of 11 Scania N230UD/ADL Enviro 400 double decks. These are to Gold specification and will enable the S5 route between Oxford and Bicester to be upgraded to full Gold standards including Wi-Fi. 

Details of the new buses are:

15752    OU61 AVF

15753    0U61 AVG

15754    0U61 AVJ

15755    OU61 AVK

15756    OU61 AVL

15757    OU61 AVM

15758    OU61 AVN

15759    OU61 AVO

15760    OU61 AVP

15761    OU61 AVR

15762    OU61 AVT

They will be allocated to Oxford with a suitable number out-stationed at Bicester.


Gavin caught the old and the new at Gloucester Green recently with X5 Volvos 53608 and 53618 side by side.

 As already mentioned above 59211, the NEx Caetano coach damaged by fire many months ago, now repaired,  has replaced the hired FJ60HYV.


From Andrew D Webb 

"A visit to Sheffield during August found several ex Oxford ALX300 MANs earning their keep with Stagecoach in Sheffield, as illustrated by these three in and around the city's main bus station. "



From Marcus Lapthorn 

"With the imminent arrival of the seven new Gold double deckers for the Swindon to Oxford 66 route, I imagine that this may signal the end for the nine Volvo single deckers that used to run on that route, prior to the delivery of the seven MAN's. On Thursday 6 October I therefore made a point of catching the 1252 departure from Faringdon on route 65 via the villages to Swindon. The bus on that roster today was 20689, a bus that has spent many thousands of miles on the 51 route to Cheltenham as well as the 66 route. These nine buses have been long serving vehicles at Swindon garage and are among the last remaining Stagecoach West high floor single deckers. My photograph of this bus today was taken in the village of Longcot and the bus look sin pretty good external condition. Upon arrival at Swindon bus station I also saw 20681 on the 51 route to Cheltenham."

The remaining three photographs were all taken upon the approach road to Swindon bus station.

Pictures by Marcus Lapthorn.

There was a Trident double decker on the 6 route which usually has route branded single deckers!

Rather surprisingly Stagecoach Gloucester's d/d 18110 was on the 65 route from Faringdon to Swindon on Monday 24th October.

New buses for Stagecoach Swindon by Marcus Lapthorn

Eight of the nine Scania d/d buses for the Swindon to Chippenham route are now in Swindon yard and the ninth is still overseas and will be delivered later this year. Two of the new buses may be entering service tomorrow - Thursday 20 Oct.

Eight Scania d/d gold buses for the Swindon to Oxford service will be delivered before Christmas and will enter service on the 66 route in the 2nd week of January 2012, when there will be an official launch.

This is probably the biggest single influx of new buses that Swindon have ever received around the same time and will significantly lower the average age of the Stagecoach Swindon fleet.

The displaced MAN's from the 66 route will probably enter service on the local 8 route in Swindon.

These latest deliveries will also result in the withdrawal from service of the nine remaining high floor Volvo's that formerly operated on the 66 and 51 routes. This will probably leave just two high floor Volvo s/d's still in service with Stagecoach West.

On the 28th October, Marcus writes "Now that the new Scanias are in service on the 55 route from Chippenham to Swindon, they have displaced older d/d's which are on the 66 route today (Fri 28 Oct). I travelled on 18192 and 18144 was also on the 66 together with either 18180 or 18190."

Tim Hall reports "Some of Stagecoach Swindon’s new Scania/Enviro 400 double deckers have entered service.

First photo is of 15735 (VX61FKJ) leaving on service 55 Friday 21/10 and the second is of more interesting showing 15732(VX61 FKF) on the new service 5 to Salisbury via Pewsey leaving Swindon on Sunday 23/10."


Other pictures at: www.timstours.piwigo.com

Lukas Jones writes "Just a few bits of news from the Swindon Side of things, may or may not be news to your readers, but I thought I would let you know anyway.

Swindon have only just had 9 new Scania/Enviro400 buses. I believe they are in the process of being prepared for service. I am aware they have been bought for Service 55, but have had no route branding applied to them as yet. Bus Details are as follows:

15730 VX61 FKD

15731 VX61 FKE

15732 VX61 FKF

15733 VX61 FKG

15734 VX61 FKH

15735 VX61 FKJ

15736 VX61 FKK

15737 VX61 FKL

15738 VX61 FKM

of the above 15732/3/4/5 are now in service all unbranded.

Also, I have seen an advertisement in one of the Swindon bus timetable leaflets, about the enhancement to route 66 buses. One might think that Swindon have had enough of those fairly recent MAN’s, as I have attached the leaflet that I read, that informs us that the 66 will be going to Stagecoach Gold very soon…. Good news for Swindon, more new buses, and more comfort when travelling to Oxford!

25th October.

Just an update on the New Scania Enviro400s that have been delivered to Swindon.

They have all arrived now, and have been put into Service on Route 55. I travelled on them today, and I must admit, they give a good ride – and they still smell new! I do believe bus 15738 had problems with its ticket machine, but was put back into service shortly after the problem was rectified.

Therefore, buses 18177 and 18179 have been transferred to Gloucester, and will be shortly followed by ex 55 branded buses 18447 and 18449.

Bus 18450 has already lost its 55 branding, and will be shortly followed by 18446, 18448 and 18501, although I think these 4 buses will remain in Swindon – will keep you updated.

As a result, the 66 has seen some Tridents running, today 18183 was the example.

As always, many many thanks for all the hard work you put into the page. It is, as always, a pleasure to read each time." 


Newly arrived Volvo B9Rs with Plaxton Panther 2 bodywork, so far unbranded, are allocated to Rugby.

53636 KX61 GDU Volvo B9R C49Ft RY New for Megabus
53637 KX61 GDV Volvo B9R C49Ft RY New for Megabus
53638 KX61 GDY Volvo B9R C49Ft RY New for Megabus
53639 KX61 GDZ Volvo B9R C49Ft RY New for Megabus
53641 KX61 GEK Volvo B9R C49Ft RY New for Megabus
53642 KX61 GEU Volvo B9R C49Ft RY New for Megabus
53643 KX61 GEY Volvo B9R C49Ft RY New for Megabus
53644 KX61 GFA Volvo B9R C49Ft RY New for Megabus
53645 KX61 GFE Volvo B9R C49Ft RY New for Megabus

At least one entered service in October with 53636 appearing in London VCS on October 18th 2011. This is seen below.


by Stefan Thorrington 

Stefan writes "I’m a big coach/Bus enthusiast and may have stumbled across something you haven’t featured on your pages.

KP04GJJ ex Oxford Tube 50104 is now with Silver Gray of Rye, a Band bussing company. It was looking very smart indeed and I will try to get some photos.

More details can be found at this link: http://www.silvergray.co.uk/


For information David Robinson has sent the following update on the current whereabouts of the Skyliner fleet.

ex Oxford Tube Skyliners, correct to 20th October.
50101 - KP04 GJE, Ventura Coach Sales, Lingfield, owned by Dawsons
50102 - KP04 GJF, Omega,
50103 - KP04 GJG, Last Bus.
50104 - KP04 GJJ, Silver Gray & Niteflite bussing, Unit 7 Sycamore Farm, Millbank Lane, Old Romney, Kent
50105 - KP04 GJK, Omega,
50106 - KP04 GJU, Dawson Rentals Bus & Coach North, Hellaby, Rotherham
50107 - KP04 GJV, Last Bus.
50108 - KP04 GJX, Meridian Line Travel,  Royston, Hertfordshire http://www.mltravel.co.uk/
50109 - KP04 GJY, Omega,
50110 - KP04 GJZ, Last Bus.
50111 - KP04 GKA, BM Coaches, Hayes,
50112 - KP04 GKC, BM Coaches, Hayes,
50113 - KP04 GKD, Last Bus.
50114 - KP04 GKE, Dawson Rentals Bus & Coach North, Hellaby, Rotherham
50115 - KP04 GKF, Omega,
50116 - KP04 GKG, Last Bus.
50117 - KP04 GKJ, Booked to Regency Coaches, ( Currently at Dawson Rentals Bus & Coach North, Hellaby, Rotherham).
50118 - KP04 GKK, Dawson Rentals Bus & Coach North, Hellaby, Rotherham, ( currently at Haytons, Manchester, M.O.T.).
  This is the one that has been on display, at the U.K. Coach Rally, Peterborough, 2010/1.
50119 - KP04 GKL, Dawson Rentals Bus & Coach North, Hellaby, Rotherham, ( may have been at Grayline, for repairs only ).
50120 - KP04 GKN, Silver Gray & Niteflite bussing, Unit 7 Sycamore Farm, Millbank Lane, Old Romney, Kent
50121 - OX04 BZT, Swallow Coach Company Ltd. in Rainham, Romford, Essex.
50122 - OX04 BZU, Dawson Rentals Bus & Coach North, Hellaby, Rotherham, ( currently at Fishlake Commercials, Thorne, for inspection ).
50123 - OX04 BZS, currently at Regency, This vehicle will be coming back to Dawson Rentals Bus & Coach North, Hellaby, Rotherham & is destined for McEwens, Mansfield.
50124 - OX04 BZP, Dawson Rentals Bus & Coach North, Hellaby, Rotherham ( currently at Enza Motors, Trafford Park, awaiting collection after M.O.T.)
50125 - OX04 BZR, BM Coaches, Hayes.

David also sent some pictures of the Skyliners whilst under Dawson Rentals care. They include work being done on one to convert it to a band bus.


Readers observations and more pictures of these coaches would be most welcome.


See under Stagecoach Midlands above for new Volvo B9R coach details.

A stranger in the camp!  An 11 plate Volvo in Bulleid Way. Can anyone shed light on this coach? Picture by M Crowe.

The Freestones coach used on the Norwich service has gained unusual vinyls for its work. Picture by Gavin Francis. 

Up from the west,53011 nears the end of its journey in victoria. Picture by Gavin Francis. 

My attention is drawn to the fact by Robert Williams that Volvo/Alexander ALX300 nr 67 is advertised for sale:
Robert comments "proving that not all of the white buses are going back to leasing companies! Although this one I expected. I also wonder about the oddball MCV Sterling bodied number 53."

John Hammond writes "Ex P&R Trident T109 DBW is out of the Oxford paint shop in Thames Travel livery, it has also been converted to single door layout and may now be at Wallingford."

I am told that three Tridents, 107, 109 and 112 are now working for Thames Travel and that these will replace leased white buses with that company.


Andrew Morgan writes on 13/10 "Welwyn Garden City bus station sees one of two ex-ROSSENDALEBUS Marshall bodied Dennis Dart SLFs that uno have on loan from Geoff Ripley. They are 10 (R410 XFL) (pictured) and 12 (R712 MEW). I am not sure how long they are on loan for?

Gavin Francis caught a Citaro working the 712 in Victoria.


Souter Holdings Poland Makes Major New Investment in PolskiBus.com Fleet

Souter Investments today announced a multi-million Euro investment in 50 new coaches for its successful Polish business PolskiBus.com.

• Polish transport operator to purchase 50 luxury coaches for inter-city express operations
• Multi-million Euro order reflects success of PolskiBus.com and commitment to expansion
• Passengers will benefit from investment in high specification vehicles with free Wi-Fi access, air-conditioning and in-seat power charging points

The investment will expand PolskiBus.com coach fleet to 68 vehicles, all of which meet the latest Euro 5 emissions standards and offer passengers free Wi-Fi access, luxury leather seats and air-conditioning.

Sir Brian Souter said: “We have been delighted with the success of PolskiBus.com since its launch four months ago. This major new investment reflects our commitment to expanding the PolskiBus.com business and driving up the quality of travel for our customers by investing in new, high-specification vehicles.”

PolskiBus.com operates fast, cheap and comfortable inter-city express coach services across Poland and Central and Eastern Europe. Fares start at just 1 zloty plus a 1 zloty booking fee with no hidden luggage charges and free Wi-Fi access. Tickets can be booked online at www.polskibus.com.

Roger Bowker, Chief Executive Officer of Souter Holdings Poland, said: “PolskiBus.com has carried over 175,000 passengers in its first three months of trading and we know that our customers love our low fares, comfortable coaches, free Wi-Fi access and friendly drivers. This order is the first phase of a major new investment programme planned by Souter Holdings Poland as we look to develop the PolskiBus.com business.”

The 50 bus order will consist of 30 single deck Altano and 20 double deck Astromega coaches, manufactured by Van Hool in Belgium. Each vehicle will be equipped with free Wi-Fi access and in-seat charging points for laptops and mobile phones. In addition, the coaches will offer reclining leather seats, air-conditioning, toilet facilities and disabled access.

Filip Van Hool, Executive Director of Van Hool, said: “We are delighted to strengthen our relationship with Souter Holdings Poland and PolskiBus.com. Our Van Hool TD921 Altano and TD927 Astromega coaches are ideal for high quality, extremely comfortable inter-city bus travel with their high capacity seating layouts, luxurious red leather seats, 240V power socket, Wi-Fi connectivity and disabled access. We are always proud that we have the flexibility to develop and adapt vehicles in close collaboration with our customers.”


The new vehicles are expected to go into service between December 2011 and April 2012.

Souter Investments is the private investment office of Sir Brian Souter, the joint founder and chief executive of transport giant Stagecoach. Its portfolio extends across 120 investments with a value in excess of £400 million.

Piotr Bezulski, Managing Director of Souter Holdings Poland, added: “As well as offering the best value inter-city fares in Poland, we want to play our part in reducing the environmental impact of travel while making it easy for people to travel quickly and cheaply from city centre to city centre. We believe there is a big opportunity to attract car users to the benefits of fast, cheap and comfortable inter-city coach travel whilst at the same time cutting their carbon footprint.”

Readers can see more of this company at : http://polskibus.com/en


Bus crashes into roundabout in Aylesbury

Saturday 15 October 2011 17:31

A BUS smashed into a busy roundabout in Aylesbury on Saturday.

The crash happened near the Royal Bucks Hospital in Bicester Road.

A single-decker Water Rider bus, which goes between the town centre and Watermead, ended up on the roundabout and sustained damage to its front.

A black Volkswagen Polo and another vehicle were also involved in the accident.

Police said that one person sustained ‘minor injuries’.

Bargain bus is a sleeper hit

Sleeper ... the new Megabus

19 Oct 2011

BRITAIN'S first budget coach sleeper service started last Friday.

The nightly Megabus service will run both ways between London and Glasgow, offering 24 bunk-style berths. Megabus's parent company Stagecoach said demand was growing for overnight bus journeys.

The coach — a converted "bendy coach" — is the first commercial sleeper service of its kind in the UK since 1929, and is setting itself up as an alternative to red-eye flights, the 420-mile drive or the pricey train. Each passenger gets a seat and a bunk for the eight-hour trip.

Bus bosses provide a toothbrush, an eye mask, bedding and as much tea, coffee and water as passengers can stomach.

Pals Katie Liddell, Scott Williams and Antony Viloof were heading to London for a fun trip to Thorpe Park and bagged a last-minute surprise upgrade to the new service. Primary school teacher Katie, 22, of Greenock, sampled the three-deck bunks and said: "I think the bus is a brilliant idea — the bunks are even quite comfy. We'll arrive in London feeling much better than if we'd sat up in seats all night. It's even comfier than a flight, because you can stretch out a bit."


Transport minister opens Arriva Midlands’ new head office and depot

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport, Norman Baker, has officially opened Arriva Midlands’ new head office building and depot at Thurmaston, Leicester.

On Wednesday 5 October 2011, Norman Baker MP travelled to Thurmaston on an Arriva Midlands bus from the NEC where he had officially opened the Bus & Coach Live event; he was met by Bob Hind, Arriva Midlands regional managing director on arrival at Thurmaston.

Arriva Midlands has moved to a 3.3 acre site in Norman Road, and has invested more than £5 million in the new bespoke building that houses its head office staff along with its operations and engineering teams – a total of 311 employees and 98 buses.

The new site boasts modern motion and light-sensitive energy efficient lighting to control and reduce energy consumption. A rainwater harvesting system collects water from the roof and stores it in an 8,000 litre underground storage tank. Water collected is used in the two new bus washes and each bus wash has a full water recycling system which recycles around 90 per cent of water used in vehicle washing.

The business has invested in an intelligent heat recovery ventilation system throughout the building, using a low energy heat exchanger to replace stale damp air with fresh, filtered and depending on outside temperatures, warmed air resulting in improved distribution of clean air and climate control.

In addition Arriva has fitted double glazed solar glass to external windows to reduce the amount of heat entering the building– absorbing light and reducing glare helping to reduce the need for air-conditioning and blinds.

The six metre high acoustic barrier fencing helps to lessen and reflect any noise which may otherwise travel to neighbouring properties.

By the end of 2011 a new Authorised Testing Facility (ATF) centre will be up and running at the location to provide third party vehicle testing, steam cleaning and vehicle washing.

Bob Hind, regional managing director of Arriva Midlands, said: “The bespoke design of the new building satisfies operational needs, reduces carbon footprint and provides greater cost efficiency to accommodate the business in the 21st century. The new site gives us the opportunity to grow the business by developing our core commercial services, competitive tendering, acquisitions, and diversity. This is a great time for us to be moving up a gear.”

Final days of bendi-buses in London fast approaching 

Gavin Francis reminds us that the final dates of the four remaining bendi routes are:

12  -  5th November


436  -  19th November

29  -   26th November


207  -  10th December

This is the end of an era and maybe some of you will wish to sample the end of the era in London.

I think in some ways its sad because the 207 is an ideal route for these buses, running as it does along mostly straight roads which in many cases are dual carriageway.

One wonders if they've been scrapped as it is so costly to police fare evasion? It can't be for congestion as all the routes converted have seen a significant increase in the PVR to maintain capacity! 


Stagecoach is pleased to announce faster journey times on route 200 between Banbury, Woodford Halse and Daventry from 28th November 2011.

The improvement follows the anticipated completion of the A361 roadworks in early November, which has seen the buses diverted through the Bourtons and Cropredy since they started earlier this year.

Trevor Bayliss, Banbury Bus Manager said “we are pleased to be able to provide a faster more direct service between Daventry and Banbury. We are aware that this may prove unpopular with residents in Cropredy, who have benefited from this diversion. However the original route will provide a more reliable service for passengers”

The service offers an excellent range of fares from £5.50 return between Banbury and Woodford Halse, to 12 journey passes and season tickets providing value from as little as £2.29 per day for an Oxfordshire Megarider Gold annual pass.

The timetable is available online now at :  www.stagecoachbus.com/oxfordshire

Stagecoach expands budget coach service megabus.com to southern United States


  • New budget coach services out of Atlanta, Georgia, to 11 major cities
  • Over 70 locations now served across the United States and Canada
  • More than 13 million customers benefit from great value travel deals
  • Successful low-cost coach provider has created more than 500 jobs

Stagecoach Group announced today (25 October 2011) that it is expanding the North American network run by its market-leading budget coach operator megabus.com to the southern United States.

Low-cost coach services will start running out of a new hub in Atlanta, Georgia, to 11 cities in the states of Alabama, North Carolina, Tennessee and Florida from next month.

More than 500 new jobs have been created by megabus.com throughout North America as the successful brand has expanded rapidly to service new cities.

The latest expansion means megabus.com – which offers daily, express coach travel for as low as £1 in the UK and from $1 in North America – will link 72 cities in the United States and Canada via seven hubs.

Services already operate out of hubs in Chicago, New York, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Washington D.C. and Toronto.

The Atlanta hub will offer services to Birmingham, Ala.; Charlotte, N.C.; Chattanooga, Tenn.; Gainesville, Fla.; Jacksonville, Fla.; Knoxville, Tenn.; Memphis, Tenn.; Mobile, Ala.; Montgomery, Ala.; Nashville, Tenn.; and Orlando, Fla.

Services will start running from 16 November and customers can begin booking travel today (25 October 2011) at www.megabus.com.

Dale Moser, President and Chief Operating Officer of megabus.com in North America, said: “megabus.com has rapidly become the travel option of choice for millions of people and we’re delighted to expand our great value services to Atlanta and the southeast region.

“Americans are continuing to look for ways to stretch their income, and we look forward to providing safe, convenient and affordable travel to millions of new customers.”

William Pate, President and CEO of Atlanta Convention and Visitors Bureau said: “Already the world's most accessible city, getting to Atlanta will be even easier with the arrival of megabus.com.

“Over the last few years, Atlanta has seen significant tourism growth with our world-class attractions and restaurants. Adding a new form of transportation for travelers will only heighten the city's exposure."

megabus.com is supporting the latest expansion by offering 10,000 free seats on the new routes for travel between 16 November and 16 December 2011. Customers should use the promo code ATL10K when booking their tickets via www.megabus.com (subject to availability on select dates, routes).

More than 13 million customers have travelled with megabus.com in North America since the launch in April 2006. megabus.com coaches offer free Wi-Fi, power outlets and restrooms. They provide excellent fuel economy and environmental performance, and are “Green Coach Certified”.

Last year, megabus.com in North America won the Leading Provider of Outstanding Car Rental and Bus Deals category at the 2010 Travelzoo awards for the second year in a row.

Visit www.megabus.com for additional information about service, schedules, arrival and departure times and fares.

Peter Huntley resigns

In a surprise announcement, Go-North East (GNE) Managing Director Peter Huntley has resigned and will leave on 31 December 2011, after nearly six years in the post.

In a statement this morning (Thursday) Mr Huntley says: “GNE has never been more successful and we continue to grow commercial passengers and revenue, despite the difficult economic conditions in the region.

“The company is in great shape for the challenges ahead. The business has been transformed and I know I leave it in the safe hands of a dedicated first class team.”

Go-Ahead Group Chief Executive David Brown says: “I would like to thank Peter for his contribution and service. He is a big figure in the North East and I know that he cares deeply about public transport and passenger service.”

The process to recruit a successor will start immediately, Go-Ahead said. 


A "gricer" weekend by Matt Cooper

Matt Cooper writes "I thought I would send you some pictures from my 'gricer weekend' (Goodwood Revival shuttle Saturday, Showbus Sunday!).

Have to say I now know every detail of the A34 road surface from the 3 hour trip down with the FLF and I don't think my hearing has been the same since!

Nice to have the RM and FLF together among the Southdown vehicles. The chap in the picture of our preserved Leyland Olympian (still seems odd calling it that) is Brian, one of our mechanics who did most of the renovation work etc. on the bus.


Also included are pictures of the Southern Vectis novelty single decker they use in Shanklin. Had a trip on it last Friday!"


New Zealand by Conrad Holmes

Just thought you might be interested writes Conrad Holmes ex Oxford Airline driver. "Now that I live in NZ, I work at Auckland airport. I have just got hold of my new bus, a Scania K320 13.5m on 3 axels rear wheel steer with a new livery. They should try these in Oxford!"


Malta by Chris Farmer

On Sunday 4th of September I arrived in Malta for a two week holiday. This was my first visit back to the Island in almost 10 years and I was well aware that things had changed a bit ! Then it was 68c to the pound, a pint was around 90c,and of course Orange and Red buses ruled the road !

Having kept fully up to date of the changes, via various online media, I knew that everything was not well in the Arriva garden, since they had taken over the services in the mid-summer. However I was not going to let this put me off and planned a good wander around the Island over a number of days, armed with a camera to see what could be found.

My main hope was to somehow stumble upon a yard or compound full of the old buses, sadly this was not to be the case, although as I will explain later, I was told of the whereabouts of many of them but again, they were out of sight and reach.

For this visit, I was based in the small but stunning village of Mellieha, on the North West tip of the island and overlooking the neighbouring Islands of Gozo and Comino. Arriving at the Hotel in the wee small hours, as is often the case, after checking in, I was able to pick up a couple of Arriva Bus Maps from reception, which detailed all the various routes and ticket prices....perfect !

After a lazy Sunday around the pool, unwinding, the Monday saw me plan to head to Valletta. Getting details from some of the fellow guests and Staff at the hotel, I headed into the village, to await either an 11 or 41 to Valletta. The queue at the stop was already quite long and I let three buses, both bendies and King Longs go, which were full and standing but others in the queue chose to join. This plan of mine was to pay HUGE dividends !

A few minutes later, the roar of an engine could be heard and around the corner came a superb vintage Malta Bus, shining in the warm sun. Totally amazed, as I was at that point unaware that any were still running, I was even more surprised when it pulled into the stop and the driver called out Bugibba, Silema, Valletta.....YES PLEASE !!!


Many of the other tourists at the stop declined the ride and I soon found that there were just FOUR of us on Malta Bus EBY 537,a 1941 Thames Trader convert all the way to the Capital. I honestly couldn't believe my luck and somehow hoped that this would last right through the next two weeks, sadly it didn't.

The journey for 6e, was of course not included in any Arriva ticket but was fully worth it. Over the next fortnight I was to see and photograph the same bus on many occasions. This particular bus, along with an OB and a Dominant, are the last three survivors of the original Malta Orange fleet and run on various routes around the Island. I caught a brief glimpse of the Dominant on our approach to Valletta but did not see the OB at all.

As we neared the City Centre a road traffic accident was causing all sorts of delays and I managed to get the attached shot of a long line of bendies and Kings from the front of the Trader.

Dropped off at the site of the old bus station, by the main fountain, I wished the driver well and tipped him. The holiday had begun in style !

Photos from my visit to Malta on Sep 3rd-17th including various shots of the buses that were around the Gozo Ferry Terminal at Ċirkewwa.

There were certainly some interesting vehicles running the routes that day, along with those that were parked up. The livery in particular on the bus in slides 301-303 did interest me.

Please feel free to use any shots you wish in the next page. My final set of pictures from Malta. All the shots were taken from my Hotel high up on the hill of Mellieha, overlooking Mellieha Bay and in the distance Gozo.

My general overview of the bus situation on the Island during my stay, was one of transition still very much in progress. More work is needed by Arriva to ensure a reliable and regular service to all parts of the Island but they are getting there, despite the indifferent publicity to the change over as a whole in some quarters.

One concern, which is reflected in some of my pictures, is the large number of buses currently out of service. With no visible workshops, one does wonder if a bus shortage will hinder things in the not too distant future.

All the staff, especially those on loan from England, were polite, helpful and very friendly. It was however sad to see some of them on the receiving end of abuse from passengers, many of whom were English Tourists at times during my stay.

The staff were doing their best, with the resources they had available and at times happily worked in far from pleasant conditions with the heat and climate.

I have already booked another holiday to Malta for next September, so it will be interesting to see what changes have taken place when I return there next year.

After a couple of days unwind I headed out again, armed with bus map and camera. My first port of call was Bugibba, where I had seen what looked like at first glance a Bristol of some sort, being used as a pay office in a fairground ! However, as the attached photos show, I could not have been more wrong ! Any of your readers able to shed light on this beast ?

Also parked nearby, was a fine Bedford belonging to Koptaco Coaches Co-Operative. This Company is totally new to me and seems to have been set up by a number of drivers from various firms around the Island. Their fleet is very varied but they have a large number of Plaxton Paramount's amongst it.

As always with bus photography, it is a case of being in the right place at the right time, for the right shot ! During my stay, I saw many other interesting items belonging to Koptaco on my travels but sadly was not in a position to take photos at that time.


Leaving Bugibba I headed towards the airport on an X3,where I had planned to change and head to the coast. On my return journey I stopped off at the Marsa Park and Ride Interchange on the edge of Valletta, where I took these shots.

Marsa is a superb location for picture taking, although mine were a little rushed, as I had just 15 minutes, before my bus back to Mellieha. However a shot of the famous Derby Solo was possible !


Following on from my mails last week, I enclose snaps taken what must be the Main Arriva base at the Park and Ride just to the South of Valletta City Centre and Terminus.

The site is vast, on several levels and would easily be able to accommodate all of the Malta fleet and still have room left over for commuters cars on the park and ride service. I wandered round on a very warm Sunday afternoon, most of the fleet of British buses where present, along with a variety of bendies and King Longs.

However, it soon became clear that the service on the Island could be heading for problems, unless failed buses are repaired, At least 20 that I saw all had sheets of A4 paper, under the windscreen wipers, stating they were not fit for service and detailing the reason why. The Bendies seemed to be suffering the most but the King Longs were not exempt from issues too.  I have included a shot of the only fuel/maintenance/wash plant in the depot as well.

I picked this superb book up, while on holiday. It covers from 1931,right up to the first day of Arriva.



A cracking read, with some lovely colour pictures of the old buses .I am sure your readers will enjoy it too. 


Winkleigh 2011 by Marcus Lapthorn

We attended the Winkleigh, Devon open day on Sunday 2 October 2011 and enjoyed the glorious weather with temperatures up to about 27c! Had not previously ever been to the open days at Winkleigh but the long trip there was well worth it. It is not like any other bus rally that I have ever been to, with all sorts of commercial vehicles, buses, coaches, cars and much more besides! Photography at the site is a little difficult as the vehicles are, in the main, packed tightly together with some being discovered amongst the bushes and trees that have grown up around them since they were first brought to the site. In some cases vehicles have been there over several decades it would seem and I wonder if they will all be renovated over future decades? Being October the sun was very low in the sky of course and this added to the photography complications, with parts of a vehicle being in full sun and the rest in deep shade!

The car park was situated on the former Winkleigh runway and a shuttle bus service operated between there and the exhibits area. Free bus services also operated to a nearby cider press, a tour of Winkleigh village and a shuttle service to and from Eggesford Railway station for trains to and from Exeter.


Photos 136 and 137 are of a locked compound, which is within the Winkleigh site but I believe the vehicles within it are possibly part of a second hand bus dealership.

Photo 139 shows some of the many (not old) Stagecoach Devon buses that are stored there.
I do not know if they are the Devon reserve fleet or are awaiting disposal. There are too many to expect them to be part of the preservation scene.


A large number of former Bournemouth Corporation buses and trolleybuses are now at Winkleigh.
I was told that they were formerly stored in Poole, but the lease for those premises expired and hence the fleet had to be found a new home.
I expect that one of your readers can shed more light upon this.

Although it is of a yellow bus, photo 147 is of a former Douglas Corporation d/d and not another Bournemouth bus.

The coaches in photos 151/2 may require a scrap yard now rather then preservation!

Photo 153 is of a former Sheffield bendy bus.

Photo 154 is of a former Devon General bus, that ended up with a scout group in the Potteries, before coming back to the west country.

Photo 155 is of half a Sheffield bendy bus.

Various other pictures from Marcus.



Andrew Cowell writes "I've attached two sets of photos you will hopefully be interested in using on your web page.

Scotland.zip contains three pictures from the Isle of Arran depicting various Stagecoach Western Volvo B10M's at Brodick bus station, Lochranza and Blackwaterfoot.  The other contains a few pictures of various Van Hool's in Bruges which I took at the beginning of September."

Scotland - Isle of Arran

Bruges, Belgium

Rally news  

Holloway From A D Webb 

Metroline's Holloway Garage hosted an Open Day on 1 October. Amongst the visitors was ECW bodied Green Line coach RFW14, one of only two survivors.

Amersham from Andrew D Webb

Andrew writes "Excellent organisation (again) by the team behind the annual Amersham and District running day plus stunning hot weather made for a memorable day in and around Amersham on 2 October. These photos illustrate just a small selection of the buses running an extensive network of routes."



Geoff Cunliffe’s Cobweb Corner

The last of my contributions revolving round my old colour slides, this time being focused on Blackpool trams and phrased such that I expect you to use it after 6th. November.

Requiem for a Tramway

On Sunday 6th. November, 2011, a traditional Blackpool tram trundled in to the depot on Hopton Road for the last time, marking the closure, after 126 years, of the first, and last, first generation, electric street tramway in the country. The event will be mourned by many traditionalists.

Whilst it is true that at Easter 2012, a fleet of sixteen, new Bombardier trams will re-open the service, it will be a very different service, sleek, fast and modern, operated to 21st. century Light Rail standards. At least we now know what the new tram will look like.

Whilst the odd heritage tram will remain for occasional use, the service will not revolve around them. They will have to fit in and not disrupt the new operation.

It all started in 1885. Initially they had a conduit system along part of the Promenade. Given that the Prom was often closed with sand drifts, it is not surprising that the conduit slot quickly filled up and a conventional overhead wire system was adopted.

The system spread around the town. The Lytham Road route opened in 1895; the link between Lytham Road & the Promenade down Station Road in 1897; the Marton route in 1901; to Layton Cemetery in 1902 and it took over the neighbouring Blackpool & Fleetwood tramway system in 1920 giving an integrated network reaching from the Fleetwood Ferry in the north to Starr Gate in the south. There was actually a physical connection to the Lytham St.Annes system at Starr Gate and through running as far as Lytham Hospital was physically possible although politically complex. Lytham used to run into Blackpool; Blackpool was not interested in running to Lytham.

It may have reached its peak around 1932 when the tram fleet stood at 167 cars, compared with the then bus fleet of 62. and there were depots at Copse Road Fleetwood, Red Bank Road Bispham, Whitegate Drive Marton as well as its main complex of storage and works at Blundell St alongside what was to become the Coliseum Coach Station.

To mark the passing of the traditional system, I offer a small and pretty unbalanced selection of photographs from my own collection together with a very simplistic history. Many photographs are available on the web from a variety of sources – this is just my homage to the system.

Two cars survive from the takeover of the Blackpool & Fleetwood Electric Tramroad: Blackpool & Fleetwood 2 -

built 1898 for the opening of the line; adapted as a snowplough at the outbreak of WWII; afterwards became an engineering car for men and materials, being useful for bicycles! Restored by Blackpool in 1960. Also Box Car 40  of 1914, one of the last cars new to the Blackpool & Fleetwood tramroad before its takeover by Blackpool Corporation in 1920. Influenced by the Manx Electric Railway, the stock of the tramroad reflected the line's interurban nature. They were built by the United Electric Car Company and fitted with UEC Preston McGuire trucks, BTH B510 controllers and two 40hp BTH 509D1 motors. It last operated in 1936. It then became a works car for the Engineering Department as car 5 but in 1960 was selected for conversion back to passenger configuration for the 75th anniversary celebrations. It is owned by Crich but remains at Blackpool for the moment.

Early successful trams were the Dreadnoughts, built in 1902 with twin staircases for easy loading. They were withdrawn in the mid 1930s.

I photographed 59 at Crich.

Blackpool had about 40 Standards, built in house and by Hurst Nelson. Early ones had open vestibules and balconies, some of which were later enclosed. Pictured at Crich are open 40 (image below), the last open balcony tram in service and closed 49 (image below), restored to Blackpool’s former red, white and teak livery. Both were built in 1926.


Not all Blackpool Standards which reached Crich survived. Some were acquired for cannibalizing and spares such as 158, built 1927 by Blackpool with Dick Kerr trucks, BTH265c motors, D78R, withdrawn 1966.

Also at Crich is the former Blackpool shunter, built 1927; originally brought the coal trans from Fleetwood Copse Road to Thornton Gate (now that’s a fascinating story).  Really a standard English Electric industrial locomotive. (image below). Shown with Dreadnought 59 in the shed behind it.

One of the most famous Standards is 147 (image below), new in 1924; it received windscreens in 1933 and an enclosed top deck in 1940. It was withdrawn in 1966. It was sold for £50 and on 6 September 1967 to the Columbia Park in Cleveland, Ohio, USA where it was to be part of a tram collection on a holiday park. Sadly it was too tall for the American set up and was confined to a depot. In 2000 it was reacquired by Blackpool Transport in exchanged for an open boat 606. It was in deplorable condition and had to be almost totally rebuilt.

The 1930s Walter Luff inspired streamlined English Electric trams have remained the backbone of the service, sometimes heavily rebuilt, but still, basically, 1930s machines. 1934 single deck railcoach 223 was caught in May 1958 near Rossall, It was withdrawn in 1963.

The double deck equivalents, nicknamed Balloons, came in two batches. 242 typifies the one built as open toppers, also in 1934 and also by English Electric, In 1942 the batch was rebuilt with a closed top. In 1968, 242 was renumbered 705 and it was withdrawn 1980.

Blackpool trams have had to operate in harsh conditions with a continuous cocktail of sand and salt being thrown at them. Some became quite tatty. By 1969, Brush car 300, by now renumbered to 637, looked past its best at Fleetwood Ferry. Introduced in 1937, this one was withdrawn 1982. (images below). The Brush cars had trucks by E.M.B. and motors were Crompton Parkinson, And I never did take to those large, rebuilt destination boxes, much as they may have been clearer to visitors.

The Coronation class came in 1952/3. Splendid looking vehicles built by Charles Roberts of Wakefield with Maley & Taunton trucks and Crompton Parkinson motors. The body layout was S56C. Little did I know when I photographed 304 at Rigby Road depot on 9th. April 1958 that, 45 years later, it would become Channel 4’s Salvage Squad tram in episode 7 of Series 2 broadcast in 2003. (image below).

The restoration cost over £50,000 and took thousands of man hours and ten months to complete, but it is now a superb tram. Philip Higgs of the Lancastrian Transport Trust writes:-

The episode involving our tram was screened in March 2003 and attracted over 2.5 million viewers – and that’s more than watch Top of the Pops. When you consider that the second series went head-to-head with favourites such as Coronation Street and Eastenders, it demonstrates that the transport and industrial heritage projects tackled by the series do have a much wider public interest than just a hard-core of enthusiasts, contrary to popular perception. It has put classic vehicles back into the attention of the media and out from behind the closed workshop doors. There are many thousands of potential projects out there, so I only hope that Salvage Squad can keep its head above water and continue to attract sufficient viewers to allow further rusting relics to benefit from a TV makeover.

Another shot shows Coronation 321 approaching Rossall on the tramroad in 1958 in its heyday.

Thornton Gate sidings have had several uses over the years. I caught a line of withdrawn Standards there, dumped for scrapping in February 1958.

9th. April 1958 saw the introduction of the twin car sets, several of which have survived to the end. Cars 275/6, heavily modified 1930s railcoaches, are shown on the centre track at Talbot Square with a confused looking Mayor at the controls prior to setting off on the official first run for a grand sounding “Coastal Tour”.


Of course our enthusiasm was living on borrowed time. Whilst we had lost a couple of routes in the 1930s (Central Drive and Layton), we had an apparently stable network up to 1960. But traditional street tramways with increasing road traffic were at best an inconvenience and at worst downright dangerous with passengers boarding in the middle of main roads. Also, everyone else had scrapped their trams and there was political pressure to do the same. In two years, we lost the Lytham Road, Marton, and North Station routes.

Two things saved the Promenade route. First it was segregated from the road traffic, but not pedestrians, from Starr Gate to The Cabin, and it had totally reserved track from The Cabin to the start of Fleetwood , and second there was (and still is) no quicker or more efficient way of moving 100 people at a time along the Promenade.

But the ill-fated Coronation cars saga had hit the undertaking hard and finances were poor. After an unsuccessful experiment with Brush car 238 around 1970, thirteen 1930s Railcoaches became OMO cars having had major rebuilds between 1972 & 1976. They weren’t the prettiest of cars but they saved the system.

Car 8 is preserved

Two more Balloons, 725 & 714, were rebuilt as Jubilee class trams with the potential for one man operation in 1979 & 1982. In summer they seem to have been operated with the usual crew of three.

No, overall advertising liveries don’t help – they rarely do.

Between 1984 & 1988, eight new Centenary class one man single deckers were added to the fleet. They were handsome cars, especially when wearing their smart green & cream livery and until the fronts were rebuilt, but have proved to be troublesome.

Tram 648 has the distinction of being the last, first generation tramcar to be built for a British system

In 1998, Balloon 707 re-appeared after a rebuild in which it had lost its characteristic but expensive, shaped front ends for a rounder version giving a larger cab together with updated lighting and fixed, bus-style seats.

These Millennium cars, however, retained their twin staircases and central, manual doors, requiring a crew of three.

Nevertheless, it seems that at least some of these Millennium cars are set to remain in use after 2012 but will receive the power operated sliding doors and pods like the refurbished balloons to allow them to operate alongside the new trams on the revamped system, with 718 becoming the first tram to be so treated.

Again, trouble was never far from the horizon. At one stage, there was talk of cutting the route back to terminate at Cleveleys (argument with the Borough of Wyre in whose territory the rest of the route lay?) but that seemed to be resolved.

Eventually, it was realized that the only way to retain the system was with a massive injection of cash. After a long process, £100m saved the day again, and whilst the result will be that the old trams will have gone, except for a cherished few, sixteen new Bombardier Supertrams will operate all year round from next Easter.

Blackpool is unique in many ways,- and its tramway system and the organization behind them is just one such element. As tramway systems closed, they had to become more and more self sufficient. They still employ a blacksmith; they make their own pantographs, their bodybuilding and general engineering facilities are second-to-none. Sadly, much of this skill may be needed no longer as, on 6th. November, we reach the stage when, with respect to the traditional Blackpool tramway, after 126 years, it is a case of…..

Pictures of Victoria Coach Station in the '60s.

If you haven't already seen this I strongly recommend that you take a look through this collection of photographs, taken at VCS in the early sixties.


Buses in the Landscape

Paul Goodwin writes with a couple of pictures for us.

1448 is a picture for buses in landscape, A Yorkshire Coastliner waiting it's next trip back to Leeds from Whitby as a fishing boat passes through the towns swing bridge

1716 is a 1958 Bedford SB3 Arriving in Goathland (Known as Aidensfield by Heartbeat followers ) on a fully loaded "Heartbeat" tour from Whitby.

1722 says it all, The vehicle is in first class condition and is operated daily throughout the summer by Coastal and Country Coaches

1729 was one of those right place right time....old meets new.

Some pictures from Gavin Francis.



Brighton & Hove Irizar PB at Oxpens, Oxford by Gavin Francis.

BM Coaches now provides a Van Hool tri-axle for the Bicester Village service from Green Line. Pictures by Gavin Francis.

Howard Smith's Plaxton Elite at Stansted. Picture by Gavin Francis.

An Arriva trainer in Whitehall by Gavin Francis.

Network Stansted YS03ZKW r 133 Stansted 141011 by Gavin Francis.

Two London General WVLs in overall advertising livery by Gavin Francis.

Coachbrokers run this Van Hool coach seen in London by Gavin Francis.

Another driver trainer, this time from Metrobus by Gavin Francis.

Two buses from northern Ireland turned up near Stokenchurch recently. I wonder why?
Pictures by Gavin Francis.

Caught on camera by Malcolm Crowe is this Clarkes Setra, team coach for Dagenham & Redbridge football team.


My website has changed yet again, this time for a lot longer than the last I hope, I am paying for this one!


Tim Hall Swindon