The weather seems unable to make its mind up with heat, cold, blue skies and wind all in the one week. Not the best of weather to get pictures.

Oxfordshire Bus Enthusiasts Society Meetings

The Chairman writes "Our next meeting will be on Tuesday 19 March when our member Richard Morgan will give us a presentation called   

"A Random Miscellany of Training Buses"

Rather than give us an in depth commentary, Richard says he will throw each picture open to the floor for comments/discussion. A few of his pictures are shown below

Pictures provided by Richard Morgan via The Chairman.

Please also note that on Tuesday 16 April Ian Thompson will talk to us on "Bus Propulsion, from Steam to Ultracapacitor", and on Tuesday 21 May we shall have our Annual General Meeting. 

All meetings start at 7.15 p.m. at The Tree Hotel, Church Way, Iffley, Oxford, OX4 4EY. The restaurant and bar are open before the meetings. 

I look forward to seeing you at these meetings." 

The news of the week was the agreement by Reading Buses to acquire Courtney Buses, thereby creating an opportunity for Reading to enlarge Thames Valley, though no final decisions have been reached regarding fleet names, colours and other operational matters. These will take place in the coming months. Full details are included under the Reading heading lower down this page,

Picture courtesy Reading Buses.

This acquisition comes hard on the heels of the Newbury acquisition ad makes Reading Buses a significant operator along the Thames Valley.

News of new deliveries this past week is that of three new coaches joining the National Express fleet in Oxford Bus operations. The coaches are Volvo and they have Caetano Levante III bodywork. They entered service only in the last few days and we can see below a picture provided by Adam Green of 59 working the 737 service through Hemel Hempstead. Full details under the Oxford Bus heading.

Picture by Adam Green.

More memories from Paul Bateson.

This time we feature early days of South Midland, the coach company which dates back to inter war years and ran from Oxford via either Maidenhead or High Wycombe to London Victoria.

An excellent book is produced and available from Paul Lacey as shown below. The price of this book to OCBP readers is £6.00 including postage and represents an excellent investment on the history of the Oxford-London road.

The book covers the period from formation in 1921 through to 1970 when South Midland, previously under the control of Thames Valley, was to be merged with City of Oxford Motor Services on January 1st 1971.

The book also explain how various services operated via Henley and Maidenhead or High Wycombe were brought together to form South Midlands Motor Services. The book is fully illustrated and also has fleet details from April 1921 up to December 1970. Even all those years ago there was a very regular service between Oxford and London, long before the days of motorways. It also explains the link with Worcester when one could travel from Worcester to London via Oxford on South Midland.

 The price of this book to OCBP readers is £6.00 including postage and represents an excellent investment on the history of the Oxford-London road. Don't forget to mention the OCBP.


Pictures below from Paul Bateson.

South Midland 77 FRP834 seen at Victoria Coach Station, London on February 15th 1958.
This coach was a Bristol LL6B with ECW 37 seat coachwork and had been new to United Counties in 1951.

South Midland 74 EBD237 seen at Victoria Coach Station, London on October 18th 1958.
This coach was a Bristol LL6B with ECW 31 seat coachwork and had been new to United Counties in 1950.

South Midland 825 FRP840 seen at Victoria Coach Station, London on May 1st 1960.
Again this coach was acquired from United Counties in January 1959 having been new in 1951.

South Midland 803 ORX634 at the Brighton Coach Rally in 1958 having been new that year. Seen on the sea front on April 20th 1059.
The coach was an Bristol MW6G with ECW 32 seat bodywork used mainly on the tour programme having won the Rally that year.

South Midland 867 521ABL seen at Victoria Coach Station, London on September 21st 1968.
This was the first of new type of Bristol coach, a REX6G High Floor with 47 seat body by ECW.

More details of these and all other South Midland vehicles can be found in the book by Paul Lacey.

More pictures by Paul in the next issues of Weekly Briefing. 

Pictures from America by Gavin Francis

Gavin has been on vacation in Florida for the past two weeks and has sent pictures of interest for readers to see.

The Van Hool facility in Florida, main entrance, showing two Megabus Astromegas still for sale on March 7th 2019.

The Van Hool facility in Florida with an Empire Coach Line Astromega on March 7th 2019.

The Van Hool facility in Florida with a Disney Bus nr 5013 being serviced on March 7th 2019.

Gavin says there are lots of the Trolleys, I-RIDE TROLLEY nr 12 on REGENCY VILLAGE DRIVE on March 6th.


JIMI HENDRIX Tour coach at Melbourne Beach on March 5th 2019.

Outside Gavin's apartment was this Lakefront coach still showing signs of Stagecoach ownership on March 8th 2019.

WOLF'S-258 outside the Walmart Store in Clermont on March 1st 2019.

More pictures next week of Gavin's Florida visit. 

In next week's issue we will have a selection of pictures from Edinburgh by Gary Seamarks who took a train ride over the border. The night shots are of particular interest as such are difficult to take.

Fleet News

In the new livery and working the 34 on Friday, March 8th was 2992, a very recent arrival in the Wycombe fleet. This bus is supposedly, by the very latest fleet list, based at Thurmaston as a repaint spare!!#

Picture by Malcolm Crowe in the Eden Bus Station on Saturday, March 9th.
The destination on the front failed to come out in four separate pictures!!

Pictures below taken by Malcolm Crowe on March 9th.

Citaro 3018 with an X30 departure to Aylesbury. Branded for the 800/850 services this bus may well be due for repaint soon.

Unbranded MAX Citaro 3031 with a 300 service to Aylesbury.

3700 is a DAF SB 200 with Wrights Commander bodywork seating 44, looking very long, heads for Great Missenden.

VDL 200 with Wright Pulsar 3797 seen on a 280 towards Headington Hill on March 5th. This bus was new to Cannock in 2014.

Laying over in the Eden Bus Station are 3919, 3012 and 4824. Not sure about the van!

At the back of Cressex depot we can see 4722 and 6002 ready for service. The yard was empty of serviceable buses last Saturday morning!

Creating quite a delay at the Eden, Solo 2495 became defective on the 9th and its passengers taken to a serviceable bus on stand.
The Solo then slowly reversed into the layover area.

From Tony Bungay

A selection of photos which may be of use, Sapphire liveried  5462 working Service 8 on March 4th, since the revised 280/X8 timetable these buses have appeared regularly on other services as well on at least one occasion in use as a crew transfer vehicle.

3829  on an afternoon short working of Service 150 in Aylesbury High Street  on March 5th, this journey seems to be generally worked by this vehicle or a Solo from what I have seen.


And lastly 5460 this time on a Service 8 working on 8/3/19, I know you have had a number of shots of this on the 280 already! Have also seen this vehicle on the 300 and X60. 

Did not realise until after I sent the photos of the above it is actually a second Enviro 400 that has been repainted! So my comments may or may not have been correct about this vehicle appearing on the 300 X60 as certainly in the case of the latter which was this week I did not identify which vehicle it was other than repainted!

I wonder if when all the Sapphire branded E400s have been repainted if the three single decks will be debranded and moved to other Aylesbury routes or elsewhere?


Annoyingly I have been unable to get a picture of the Solo SR recently moved to Wycombe. Hopefully by next week??

Pictures below taken on March 9th by Malcolm Crowe.

Quite some congestion for buses leaving the Eden due to a defective Solo blocking the exit! 215 will have to reverse and squeeze out on the other side.

When 215 had squeezed past the Solo I noticed that the rear screen on had the route number.

The Solo can be seen reversing into the layover bay as Citaro 857 goes on its way to Chesham with full rear destination display!

Solo 712 is seen arriving at The Eden ready for another run to Watford.

StreetLite 405 arrives on Chiltern Hundreds service 102 looking rather dusty.

From Adam Green

Brand new NEx 59 was on the 737 to Stansted Airport at 15:45 in the Marlowes, Hemel Hempstead.

Two axle NEx Levante 55 was seen in service on March 12th and so far new tri-axle 60 has not been seen. This may be one of the last times 55 will operate for COMS prior to its move to the South Coast.

Adam was the first person to provide pictures of the new coaches mentioned in last week's issue. So, well done Adam!

Pictures below by Malcolm Crowe taken on March 5th.

Airline coach nr 3 heads fro Heathrow when seen at the bottom of Headington Hill.

Brookes 611 seen in the same location with a U5 service. This is following a very roundabout route to the City Centre in spite of heading away from same!

Park & Ride 665 in the same place with a 400 service to Thornhill.

358 is seen turning into Marston Road on  a 13 road working.

672 is seen heading towards Seacourt via the City by the main campus of Brookes.

I felt that ready steady go was a good title for this picture but I think the bicycle may have delayed 690 and let 73 win in the end!

666 heads for Seacourt in the rear view of the type with Park & dine message on the lower panel.

882 is seen on its run towards Kidlington but still minus a front fleet number!

Brookes 372 heads towards Wheatley Campus looking very clean and tidy!

Has anyone seen 978 in PMU livery and in service yet?  

Gavin Francis, having on just returned a few hours earlier, was out and about to catch up with brand new Volvo/Caetano Levante III nr 58 from Oxford Bus working the 737 through Stokenchurch towards Stansted.


Local operator Countrywide Coaches, Princes Risborough' have now acquired Volvo B9R/Caetano Levante FJ61EXW new to Dunn Line as their 4038. They also have a tri-axle Plaxton coach ex Parks. 


Reading agree terms to acquire Courtney Buses

Reading Buses are delighted to announce that they have agreed terms to purchase Courtney Buses, in a move that will significantly enhance their expanding Thames Valley operations.
Founded in 1973 as a taxi firm, and moving into coaches and then buses, Courtney Buses now operate a fleet of 57 buses on a network of services, including commercial local bus services in Bracknell & Slough, tendered services on behalf of Bracknell Forest, Wokingham Borough and the Royal Borough of Windsor & Maidenhead Councils, and several high-profile corporate contracts as far afield as Basingstoke, Didcot and Weybridge.

The acquisition also includes Courtney Bodyworks, offering a range of vehicle repairs and a full-size bus paint shop, and Courtney Authorised Testing Facility that is equipped to carry out M O T's on large vehicles.

Reading Buses see this as a significant fit for Reading Buses, both in terms of complementary local bus network, high quality, high profile operations, our expansion into the wider Thames Valley, and also the supporting businesses. This well-run business will provide a return to Reading's shareholder over time that will justify and repay the initial capital outlay and will allow the wider Reading Buses group (consisting of Reading Buses, Newbury & District and Courtney Buses) to become more efficient by integrating routes and tickets and sharing overheads.

Bill Courtney-Smith, Founder and Managing Director of Courtney Buses said: “Courtney Buses has prided itself on quality, value and integrity. Our motto – Driven by Service – really says it all. I am pleased to be passing the reins to another company which holds these values in such high regard, and one that has been recognised as such by the wider industry on numerous occasions. I wish the team well.”

With the retirement of founder Bill Courtney-Smith, it is currently envisaged that Courtney Buses will eventually expand to incorporate Reading's existing Thames Valley operation in Slough under Courtney Buses General Manager Simon Fisher.

A full review of all other supporting roles, systems and branding will take place to bring the two organisations together in the summer.

Revision to Henley services

Revised Monday to Friday timetables on connect Henley on Thames services 151, 152 and 153 will be introduced on Monday 11 March. At the same time a Saturday service will be introduced covering the morning and early afternoon period. Please note that a couple of Monday to Friday AM peak journeys on Service 151 will be extended from Market Place via Market Place, Hart Street, Thameside Promenade and River Terrace to the Henley-on-Thames Station bus stop on Station Road.

Free taster day will be Saturday 16 March. The new Saturday services will commence in Henley-on-Thames on Saturday 16 March. In order to promote this, it has been agreed that NO fares will be charged on this particular Saturday.

Early trip out for the open topper this year!

The warm weather allowed for an early outing for the open topper (below) last Wednesday 27 February. It was fun and great news for sun-seekers and customers who climbed on board and enjoyed the early spring sunshine just after 3pm. The open topper ran number 17 from Wokingham Road at the Three Tuns pub to the water tower at Tilehurst through Cemetery Junction, Central Reading, Berkshire and along the Oxford Road.

From Bob Morley

"Unusual visitor, Reading Buses Alexander Dennis Enviro 400MMC 751 many miles from its dedicated Reading Claret route seen in Newbury on March 11 Reading bound on route 1 Jet Black."


Not much to report this week but a few pictures taken by Malcolm on March 5th around Oxford.

MMC 10671 on a number 8 service.

10685 also on the 8 but a rear view as it heads into Oxford.

MMC 10675 with 700 service heads to Kidlington through Summertown.

Just ahead is Gold 15760 on its was to Bicester showing a sticker advising of fare increases. 

Look out for Dart SLF 34425 transferring from the Reserve Fleet at Bedford to the operational fleet at Peterborough as a replacement for accident damaged 35104.

The company has confirmed that the Volvo B9R/Plaxton elite coach on loan and allocated to Bedford for use on the X5 service (SB12NMZ) has been given fleet number 80041.

Flagship of the X5 fleet is 54301 taken in Cambridge by Gary Seamarks on March 4th.

The remaining Tridents which had been at the former King’s Lynn depot and awaiting disposal have now been moved with 17744 and 17787 now at Biggleswade and 18343 at an external location in King’s Lynn.

Gary Seamarks writes "Just noticed two deckers on X5 again yesterday and today! I was told 19705 actually got to Oxford on Tuesday afternoon, they were that short of coaches at Bedford. The 99 also seems to be having a share of E300's from time to time, just shows how short of coaches Bedford are even with 80041 covering for the Elite that's away on warranty work. A Panther was seen on recovery on Friday also (nothing new there)."

Update March 11th -

"The following were on X5 at 14.00 on 11/3/19 (Monday) 19701, 19888, 19891, 19892 all operating east of Bedford, with Elites 54302/5 /6/7/8/12 all off the road, the loan 80041 was also rostered for X5 assuming on the peak shorts.


The 99 had  Panthers 53613/5/6, alongside 27523 on the 13.00 ex Mk and 36936 working the 14.00 ex MK, it must be remembered that a couple of 81’s between Bedford and Luton are on these duties, when vehicles run dead between MK and Bedford for driver changes. 53617 was seen being recovered on Friday 8/3 in Bedford, 53618 was in use on 10/3, but 53612 has not been active for a few days.


All of Bedford's deckers were active at this time, but 36937 and 27520 were in use on Town route 1, that should be decker worked, both 34421/2 were also in use on other routes, these are part time trainers." 

The remaining five ADL Enviro 200s due from Stagecoach West Scotland are now here and being prepared for entry into service. Reserve Fleet Trident 17722 is now part of the main fleet at Stroud.

The entry into service of former Wessex Bus 8.9m Enviro 200 36080 at North Bristol has allowed Optare Solo 47558 to transfer to Stroud where it has displaced similar 47551 which is now for disposal. Dart SLFs 34585 and 34667 are no longer part of the fleet.

Loaned 50237 ins a mix of Megabus and tube colours is still on loan pending the return of 50281 from repair.

I think 50268 is heading to London in spite of its destination display on March 5th by Malcolm Crowe. 

Megabus/Joint Venture Operations

Reserve Fleet Volvo B11Rs 54207/08 are now in the operational fleet with South Gloucester Bus & Coach.

The five Van Hool Sleeper coaches for use by South Gloucester Bus & Coach are still being prepared for service with 50302/03 reported by the company as being at Rugby and 50301/04/06 at Cumbernauld.

Vehicles awaiting allocation are Volvo B12Bs 54077/79 and Volvo B11Rs 54211 along with 54601/03 which are said to be destined for Rugby.

Stagecoach North Scotland has reported the sale of Volvo B12B 54047. 

Other fleets & Areas.

From Wheatley by Malcolm Crowe on March 5th.

Gold Line's BD02HDE which parks at the premises of Plastow's seen here on March 5th.

Plastow's have a very standardised fleet of Volvo/Jonckheere coaches which present an excellent image.
one of their coaches, BT65JHH, a Volvo B11R with 53 seat bodywork, seen in their Wheatley depot on March 5th.

From Gordon Scott in Scotland


Nottingham City Transport Scania N280UD E400 CBG City CNG under test.

Taken at Falkirk today Stagecoach
Alexander Dennis E40H smart hybrid MMC.

Another low height tri-axle for Canada at ADL Falkirk by Gordon Scott.


Ratho Coaches Scania Irizar i6 YN16WUW ex City Circle 130 seen passing under the main Glasgow rail line
above the coach from
Edinburgh to Falkirk on to Glasgow.

From Nick Ross

Two images of buses on route 31 Cairngorm - Aviemore from earlier this week 

Stagecoach Aviemore's 28647 leaves the Cairngorm day lodge with the 1240 31 to Aviemore on March 4th 2019 

Stagecoach Aviemore's 53289 descends the steep hill from the Cairngorm day lodge with a thin snow cover
 on the North wall behind the VolvoB7 on March 5th 2019 

A highly recommended bus route!!

My goodness, wild and windy no doubt, but great Pictures in the Landscape to end with.