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I read with interest a report about a Ridleys Astromega which was carrying Aston Villa supporters to Wembley for the recent cup tie. The coach was attacked with bottle, cans and even a missile by others in the crowd outside the ground causing an estimated £20,000 of damage to the coach.

Calls have now been made for stronger protection for coaches and passengers when transporting football supporters to matches.

The coach involved was ex Oxford tube 50225 - OU59AUY seen above outside Wembley.

This has been a problem for many years now and I recall being rostered to meet the Chelsea team off the train in Manchester and taking them to the Manchester United ground. In this case Chelsea won the match and when we left with police escort, back to the train station, United supporters started hitting the coach, rocking it from side to side and making a most unpleasant situation. I was more than pleased to escape the ground without serious damage and this was back in the early sixties!!

Public transport in its many forms can be very unpleasant especially when the problems arise from drink and now even drugs. Having been thumped well and truly when driving on nights on the Oxford tube, where there is little or not protection for the driver, I do not envy the developing life for PCV drivers in the years to come. Retirement does have its benefits!

A late addition to the page is news of the arrival of three Scania/Levante NationalSC-MSL-15566-PX59CUJ-r-68-St-Annes-040619-G-Cunlifferess coaches for the 925 service between Heathrow and Woking which is now operated by Reading Buses.

This week I have taken the opportunity to travel back in time to 20 years ago when the page was in its infancy, to include some pictures from those days. I know that many of you enjoy such pictures and I feel sure you will enjoy my selection. 

Twenty years ago with your Editor

I thought I would take this opportunity to air a few pictures from my collection dating back to April 1999, over 20 years ago. Some happy memories when I was driving for Oxford Bus, mainly on the coaches including the X90, Heathrow and Gatwick services. I only found out when I left OBC in 2004 that I had only ever been a casual driver!!!

A selection of Oxford coaches working the X90 on April 2nd 1999. The UJI Plaxtons were great coaches to drive,
very quick of the mark and good all-round vision. 63, seen above, carried a special livery for VCS.

Flagship of the low floor Dennis fleet was 401 which were also pleasant buses to work on seen above in Queen Street on April 10th 1999.

These Olympians when new in June 1988 were mainly used on the then route 5 to Reading or the route to Aylesbury.
Only later did they move to the Park & Ride services. Then later again the batch moved to The Wycombe Bus Company,
with 228 gaining pseudo Thames Valley livery prior to WBC being taken over by Arriva the Shires.
Following this time in Wycombe 228 eventually ended up with Arriva in Southend, a chequered but interesting history.

One of the night time fuellers and shunters during the later days at Cowley Road enjoyed getting the buses in numerical order!
Derek later sadly passed on rather early for his time and those from the turn of the century will doubtless remember him.
Above is some of his handiwork when he had arranged 635, 636 and 637 in due order.
Also in those days now long gone the Commercial Director, Phil Kirk maintained that buses used on each route should be of the same type.

At the time in 1999, it occasionally happened that extra capacity was required on the X90 London service
and local operators were hired in to assist as seen by the Cliffs Coach above ready for a run to London.
M495XWF, a Scania/Irizar C49Ft, had been new in July 1995 to Neighbour of High Wycombe, I think the Cliff in Cliff's!

Sometimes older Oxford Bus coaches moved on to other operators who operated into Oxford such as Worths, Charlton Services and even Swanbrook's from Cheltenham who operate the 53 - now 853 to Oxford.

A111MUD, a Leyland Tiger with Plaxton bodywork, started life with COMS as their 111 working mainly airport services from January 1984.

In late 2004 I moved to Stagecoach and was lucky to go straight on to the Oxford tube, something which did not often happen then. I was taken on as a Part Time driver with a proper contract. This coincided with the arrival of the Skyliner coaches and I had to put up with a lot of ribald comments about being a traitor! Early from the '90s I had been welcome to take pictures at the Horspath Road depot and include some of these below.

April 10th 1999 saw these two buses at the depot, showing the change at that time from Thames Transit to Stagecoach in Oxford.
901 was part of a batch of Dennis Lance buses with Plaxton bodies which were soon repainted into Stagecoach livery like 903 in GG..
The bus seen next to an ex London Dennis Dart, 744 NDZ3146, were a batch of these buses transferred from East London to Oxford.
The Wrights Handybus bodies were known as sheds! Sadly they were very utilitarian compared to other buses of their time.

Odd arrival came at this time and could often by missed unless one was lucky enough to be on hand as was the case in the picture above.
The fleet numbers applied to their time with Stagecoach Selkent where they could be seen on the P3 at Elephant & Castle!
These two buses did not last long and had left by 2005 although ne of two were being replaced by new Volvo Olympians. The date April 10th 1999.

At this time,, April 10th 1999, Oxford acquired a batch of Volvo B6BLEs with Alexander ALX200 bodies as seen above by 836, P326JND part of a batch of 13.
Arriving in May 1998, they were not the most reliable of buses but gave around 4 years service passing on to other areas.

Volvo B10M/Plaxton Premier 158 - L158JNH was one of eight delivered in August 1993 to United Counties.
Around this time Stagecoach Express was the fleet name used.
By April 2nd 1999 it had acquired Coachlinks livery and is working the X61 to Nottingham from Gloucester Green.
Later it was to acquired the current recognisable livery and renumbered 52158.

Various other operators came into Oxford and one of those was Cambridge Coach Services, who had in cooperation with Percivals of Oxford, run an Oxford-Cambridge service number 75.

As can be send from the blind, 301 was running via Stokenchurch ad High Wycombe, to Stansted and then Cambridge.
Delivered to Sovereign in October 1994, this coach had a variety of liveries over the period from 1994 to 2008 including NEx livery.

Trathens of Plymouth ran this coach from new on services for National Express. N319BYA was a Volvo B12T/Van Hool C57/14Ct seen in VCS on April 2nd 1999.
Trathens were eventually taken over by Parks of Hamilton who still run out of Plymouth 20 years later on NEx diagrams.

Finally in this short reminder of 20 years ago we have a general picture of VCS departure bays  from the rear.
In those days COMS departed from Bay 10, which even today is two bays and now used by the A7 to Stansted.

I hope readers have enjoyed this return to the past and I will hope to publish some more in the coming months. 

London visit with Gavin Francis

Just a few notes accompany these photos taken by Gavin on June 6th in London.

Waterloo Bridge.

CT Plus operates the 26 route with these three year old ADL double decks.

The 521 crosses Waterloo Bridge on its way to Waterloo Station as shown by this BYD ADL saloon SEe26.

Waterloo Bridge also sees these Tower Transit VDL Bus SB200s with Wrightbus Pulsar here numbered WSH62997 and WSH62998 both on route RV1.

Similar bus seen from the nearside with Waterloo Station in the background, WSH62993, still with hydrogen branding.
Gavin advises that this route is due to finish on June 15th, so if you want a trip now is the time!

I always thin Canada Water seems a attractive destination!
Go Ahead's WHV150 working the route 1.

London Sovereign ADH45280, a recent 68 plate delivery on the 139 nears its destination at Waterloo.

LT173 has a new wrap for "i blu do you?" as head across Waterloo Bridge on a 59 service to Streatham Hill.

One of the  later New Routemasters, LT898 again nears its destination at Waterloo with a 76 working.

On a 176 service to Penge, MHV55 of Go-Ahead, an eVoSeti Volvo is picking up on Waterloo Bridge.

Near the London Eye

Golden Tours 141 is waiting time at the London Eye, another eVoSeti Volvo becoming a popular manufacturer in London.

In order to comply with the London emissions regulations Stagecoach had to quickly upgrade its Megasightseeing fleet.
Named as were the earlier fleet, two differing examples are seen, one full OT - 19136 and one part OT 19133 useful to know if one is going to ride!
These are converted for 56 plate E400s which comply with the regulations.

The London Eye is a popular destination for tour coaches and above we Carol Peters Scania YT68GWG.

Premium of Peckham, a well known London tour operator, has five new VDL coaches as seen by YD19GPY.

I felt that these pictures on a sunny day made a pleasant change from the present Ark weather!!

To be continued next week with Westminster and Hounslow West.

Andrew Webb notes a correction to the item on Imperial Coaches last week

Thank you for another interesting read this week.  A slight correction to the item about the Imperial Coaches Enviro 400MMC.  This will be the company's fifth example, having taken four 67 plate examples new in 2017:


They are used on a wide variety of work, including school contracts in Buckinghamshire and are very comfortable.  They replaced the company's fleet of ex Metroline Tridents.

When these four were delivered I was told that another four would be delivered in September 2018, so there might be another three yet to come.  A fifth 67 plate example went to NPC Coaches.

Attached are photos of each:

YX67UYG:  at Northampton services whilst on a private hire from Ilam in the Peak District to London.  16/7/18.

YX67UYH:  at Hounslow station on rail replacement duties on 1/10/17.

:  at the company depot on 18/6/18.

The company also operate tri axle 100 seat Optare Volvos and a fleet of Olympians alongside coaches.

I much appreciate this correction from Andrew and look forward to updates on this interesting fleet from time to time.

Didcot event from Mike Lewis

The event was blessed with good weather and indeed Didcot Station forecourt was very busy with visiting buses and coaches. What regular travellers must have thought is not recorded!

As an eleven year old attending school camp at Ladram Bay in Devon, The transport provided by Altrincham Coachways was a Bedford
just like PPH698 above. It seemed a long journey in those now far off days but the coach was comfortable and having a petrol engine
nice and quiet. So, as a result I have always had a certain fondness for this model !

Another regular rally attendee is this Bristol LH which was new to Southern Vectis on the Isle of Wight.

No rally in these parts would be complete without ex Oxford's 105, a Bristol VR/ECW DP looking immaculate.

Exhibited at the show area was this AEC Regal, SHN301, new to Scott's Greys, also immaculate.

Never having been a lover of Leyland Nationals, I suppose an Alder Valley example, 251, is appropriate for this rally.  

...and a brief report from Mike Walker on Epping Ongar Railway bus services

Went to the Epping Ongar Railway yesterday by train - GWR to Paddington then H&C to Liverpool Street and finally by Central Line to deepest Essex.

Although the EOR ends only yard from the LU station, they have no station of their own so a heritage bus service is run between Epping LU, North Weald (trhir base) and Shenfield station.

Three buses in operation yesterday, RMA11, RT2150 and RT3871. We travelled on the RMA outwards and came back on RT3871.



Fleet news and developments

I happened to be in Booker on June 7th, so came back via the Cressex depot. I was amazed to see not a single Arriva bus in the yard. (Some were in the workshops.)


Picture by Nigel Peach. 



James Freeman pictured a visiting London General Private Hire visiting Oxford and later seen at the depot, both on June 4th.


Not much news this week except to note that 221 has been having a full body overhaul and should be back on the road by now.

Coach 61 has been noticeable by its absence but is now back in service as seen on June 8th by Gavin Francis.

Hybrid 311 is seen back to its old route working the 300 service on June 6th by Gavin Francis.

The X3 generally has these Wrights deckers as seen by 362 and 369 on June 8th taken by Gavin Francis.

MMCs 603 and 608 with Brookes branding, are seen working differing routes in St Aldates on June 8th by Gavin Francis.

Mike Lewis also took the opportunity to visit the Thames Travel depot in Didcot on June 2nd where he took a number of pictures of the TT fleet at rest.

214, 441 and 937 look nice and clean and ready for work the next day.  Pictures by Mike Lewis.

Citaro 881 is seen with an X40 working on June8th by Gavin Francis. 


Seen in Stokenchurch carrying out training duties MT04MTT made a nice picture when caught in the lens of your Editor. This was on June 4th and I think this coach was used in the TV programme featuring Motts?


As recorded under the Reading heading three new Scania/Levante II have been delivered for the 925 service between Heathrow and Woking now run by the company on behalf of National Express. 

Three new Scania Levante II coaches have arrived for Reading's contract to run the 925 Heathrow-Woking service. Details are below.

Scania K360EB4/Caetano Levante II C48Ft

1415 - BV19XPC
1416 - BV19XPD
1417 - BV19XPS

Picture courtesy the CEO - Robert Williams.
The coach had just be delivered on a very wet Monday, June 10th.

Who is going to be first with a picture of these in service? 

Bob Morley writes "Amongst the unusual buses seen on the Reading Buses Jet Black service recently was this  Emerald route liveried 774 Reading bound in Newbury on Tuesday, June 11."



Geoff Cunliffe has sent this picture of Scania 15566, now in an earlier Ribble livery, working the 68 through St Annes to Preston.
This Timesaver livery was applied to any vehicles at the time but we are not sure if it attracted many passengers.


How nice to see a Gold bus working a Gold route, 10781 loading in St Aldates with the S9 to Wantage on June 8th by Gavin Francis.

Another Stagecoach bus, 36930 with the 16 ready for a trip to Minchery Farm on June 8th by Gavin Francis.


Optare Solo 47511 has been transferred to SC Yorkshire, whilst the donation to charity of Trident 17511 has now taken place.

Enviro 400s 19010/91 and MAN/Enviro 300s 22834/37 are now back in service at Northampton having displaced Trident 18151 and 18407; Enviro 400 19085 and MAN/Enviro 300 22832 which are all now delicenced for repairs.

Following repairs Enviro 400 19085 is now in the Reserve Fleet at Kettering.

The Corby outstation allocation is now nominally nine Dart SLFs with 35176/77/78/79/80/81 along with 35219/21/22. The five Scania/East Lancs double decks 15401-05 are now part of the main Kettering allocation.

Withdrawn Dart SLF 34642 has moved from Corby to Rugby. 

After a fast run from London, 50275 is seen setting down in St Aldates on June 8th by Gavin Francis. 

A new service from South Wales to the London airports has started, seemingly using Astromegas. 


Mike Lewis writes "Some Weavaway photos from Sunday June 2nd.

 New vehicles are as follows:

IRZ525, IRZ818, IRZ717 and IRZ363 all Irizar i6



Also in residence was this ex Kings Ferry Caetano with cherished registration BKZ70. Picture by Mike Lewis.

Whilst Gavin was in High Wycombe recently he came across this delightful little coach from Worth's. Its driver is well known in enthusiasts  circle being much involved in the preservation of COMS 105.

"Squirt", FX51BPE is a Mercedes Benz 1223L with a Ferqui C35F body acquired from Bicknell in Godalming some years ago now.

Smaller operators and London developments

Visitors to Oxford are always of interest and by visitors I mean coaches and even buses on Sightseeing. Therefore I hope that following James Freeman's lead more of you will provide such pictures.

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