Issue nr. 241
Wednesday, February
22nd 2023


Much of interest for readers this week with visits to various events and locations. Also the £2 fare deal has been extended to June 30th.

First Bus names Head of Operational Excellence, an old friend of OCBP. We also have three reports of Rail Replacement services.

Buses in the Landscape features a couple of very nice pictures and we have some interesting Readers Write. Not be missed is the Swan riding the roof of a Reading Bus !

As usual we have Grahame Wareham's contribution regarding COMS 241 and its sisters with additional information from Mike Penn and your Editor on these coaches.

Thomas W W Knowles provides us with  pictures of long ago COMS AEC double deckers.

Bus revenue support and BFCG in England extended

Bus Recovery Grant (BRG) revenue support and the Bus Fare Cap Grant (BFCG) scheme in England will both be extended for three months from 1 April to 30 June in an agreement that represents total government funding of up to £155 million.

The news ends speculation about the future beyond 31 March of the Bus Recovery Grant mechanism, something that had led to uncertainty about the future of networks beyond that date. Of the funding for the three months from 1 April, up to £80 million will go to revenue support and up to £75 million to BFCG.

In announcing the extension of both streams on 17 February, the Department for Transport says that “the recovery grant support comes in addition to government investment of £3 billion in bus services by 2025, including over £1 billion to improve fares, services and infrastructure.”

A three-month extension to bus revenue support comes after Secretary of State for Transport Mark Harper told the Transport Select Committee in December 2022 that the government was considering its options around further funding beyond 31 March.

Some suggestions since then had held that the ‘mood music’ around that had changed, but a three-month extension mirrors that announced a week earlier by the Welsh Government about that country’s Bus Emergency Scheme (BES). In Scotland, the similar Network Support Grant Plus is to end on 31 March and the Scottish Government has said that there are no plans to extend it.

On BFCG, the government says that evidence was seen in January that it has had an effect on growing usage. While some operators were critical of BFCG upon its announcement in late 2022, and some subsequently elected not to participate, others have lauded it for its positive impact on ridership.

Speaking on 17 February, Mr Harper says that the government recognises how the bus industry “is still trying to recover after the end of the pandemic.” He adds that the total £155 million allocation will “help passengers to save money on fares, get more people on the bus and protect vital routes.”

Notably, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has weighed in on buses as part of the latest announcement. Mr Sunak says that he wants “to make bus travel affordable for all,” with the latest funding allocation intended to help protect routes and ensure that “we have a modern and efficient network that is accessible for everyone.”

In an echo of comments made by one of Mr Sunak’s predecessors, Boris Johnson, he continues: “I am determined to ensure that no matter where you live, you can have the same opportunities to get around easily and can feel pride in your local area – which is why protecting our local bus services is so important.”

Bus Running Day - February 19th - by Gavin Francis

The Epping Ongar Railway has announced its exciting programme of events for 2023. Building on the success of our 2022 season, the Railway is planning a busy mix of events for families and children as well as special gala weekends for the transport enthusiast.

The programme also features a number of bus running events, including the season opening event, now extended to two days on February 18 and 19. 

Gavin Francis

I counted 21 buses there which I thought was a bit disappointing. Managed to get pictures of them all and I think in the main they came out very well.

All pictures are taken in the North Weald Station area. 

RT 4548
This bus was exported to Prince Edward Island in 1979 and returned to The London Bus Company in 2010 along with the rest of the fleet.

Have attached my picture taken in Kingston in 1975 before it was exported.,

RM 1993

RT 2150

RMC 1461

BL 88


GLS 490

GLS 444

RMC 1513

RF 136

LS 174

RT 1702

T 986


DM 1052

RT 1530

MBA 539 

Visited by Gavin Francis  on February 13th

On Monday, February 13th myself and a small group of friends were invited to Ensign’s depot at Purfleet for the day.

From here they carry out a range of services as they run many of the local buses, operate the heritage bus fleet, private hire fleet, bus dealership and also refurbish buses for further service for operators through their dealership.

We started in a large warehouse where there an impressive line-up of RT family buses.

From left to right: RTW 335, Greenline RT 3232, Pre-war RT 8, Cravens RT 1431 and RTL 453.
Most of the buses still show the blinds used on The Ensign Running Day in December, but RT 8 shows the blinds for Route A on which it ran on 4th February

At the end of the line was RLH 61 which was repatriated from Canada and restored by Ensigns.

From left to right: RMC 1485, RM 25, RM 1361 and RML 2405
Ensigns also operate a large fleet of Routemasters and a few of them are shown here lined up in the depot.

There is also a large collection of non-operational buses some of them waiting to be restored and others probably too far gone to ever hit the road again.

From left to right: Former Davis (Unitrans) RTL 1014, Greenline RT 4741, RF 36 and Pre-war RT 54 awaits its turn for restoration.

 Although Ensign have mostly ex-London Buses in their heritage fleet there are buses and coaches in other operator’s liveries.

From left to right: East Kent FFN 451, Eastern National 331 and Southend 116

Parked outside the unit was a row of the Ensign local bus fleet, probably more than would normally be there due to it being half term.

The picture shows the 2 heights of Wright Streetdeck which Ensign operate.

We decided to have a break and Ensigns had kindly prepared RF 463 for us and we were able to take it out for an hour around the roads of Essex.

RF 463 stands ready for a run out.

On return we then went into another unit and stood directly inside were another two buses from The Heritage fleet.

RT 1499 high off the floor for inspection and service and DMS 33 also being maintained. I took a picture of this bus in Kingston 40 years ago.

Then tucked away in the far corner was RT 44 in the very early stages of restoration.

Still a very long way to go but remember RT 8 looked like this at one time and when it is finished RT 54 is waiting not far away.

Ensigns do a lot of conversion work to meet the needs of buyers the most common work done being removal of the centre door and open top conversions.

Ensign are currently converting a number of E400s previously with both Metroline and Tower Transit to open top I believe for delivery to Dublin.
This view is taken from the office block and shows 3 being worked on.
Also ex London United Scania YT59SGX which has just had the centre door removed. It is pictured in Kingston in July 2017.

Back out in the yard was what looked like a typical London Bus but it carried the fleet number EBS 1972. It was in fact ex London United micro-hybrid WH45252.

EBS 1972 is now used where a film company requires a modern London bus to use.

Parked right by the yard entrance was Stagecoach 18302.
A couple of mechanics were gradually stripping parts of it and within a couple of hours a tow truck had arrived and it was taken away I would suggest on a one way trip.

I think I found my biggest surprise of the day parked outside in the far corner of the yard. In the late 1970’s I remember seeing in London an RT which had been modernized to look like an ST with open staircase and the front upper deck set back to give a canopy over the cab. I think it was operated by Guards Coaches of London for carrying tourists.

RT 4599 stands in the corner of the yard and my pictures of the same bus taken at The Derby at Epsom in 1979 and in service at Greenford Broadway in 1976.
I must admit that I had assumed it had been scrapped many years ago but it appears to be a real survivor.

With the demise of Yellow Buses Ensigns have some of their former buses in their sales department.

From left to right: former Yellow Buses 5021, 2004 and 5054

Overall a very interesting day out at what must be a unique depot. Of course this type of visit will not be possible for much longer with the proposed sale of the Ensign Bus Services and dealership to First. The heritage buses will stay with the Newman family but will need to find new premises within the next 12 months. I wonder what this means for the annual Ensign Running Day, have we seen the last one?

Trip to Stevenage/Hitchin by Gary Seamarks

Brief visits to Stevenage and Hitchin 18/2/23.


YX72ONC is seen outside the former Danestrete London Country, Sovereign/Luton and District/ Arriva site
which was demolished many years ago and replace with a Matalan, now also no more.

RJ21XDB is a UNO vehicle.

1010, 1613, Centrebus 328, LK08DWE
  are also taken in Stevenage.

Hitchin, was quite surprised when I realised that this small market town is served by 7 operators, admittedly some routes are two hourly or less, the Arriva 100/1 is the most frequent at a combined every 20 minutes.

  209 is working the 16.00 Service to Bedford via Biggleswade, note the guy on the bike !

  329 was on the 16.00 to St. Albans, this one is ex Malta ,551 16.01 to Stevenage,  565 on a town service,

Stagecoach 37231 was on the 16.13 to Bedford.



Stagecoach 9A/B/C to Bedford  

Arriva three routes

               100/1 Luton -Hitchin-Stevenage,

               97 98 Hitchin-Letchworth then Stotfold (97/A) or Baldock (98/A)

               74 to Biggleswade then Bedford

Centrebus five routes


               80  Hitchin -Stevenage

               81   Hitchin Town

               89  Hitchin- Henlow Camp

               304 Hitchin- St Albans    

               314 Hitchin -Welwyn Garden City

635 to Watford

Red Eagle

88 to Luton  

Central Connect

386 Bishop’s Stortford -Hitchin-Stevenage (4 times per day)

With a couple of rail replacements on due to planned closure of East Coast Main-line south of St. Neots,  with Coaches running a Stevenage -Hitchin-Luton (for connections onto Midland Mainline, and a Stevenage - Alexandra Palace , for intermediate Stations, other services were running from St Neots to Bedford, Hitchin to Peterborough etc.

Rail replacement vehicles seen during the visit



Kevin Fitzpatrick in Oxford

Emergency rail replacement work between Oxford and Kingham due to a landslip on February 16th.

 former Stagecoach Dart GX53 MWJ of Guru Travel (Birmingham) at Oxford Station this afternoon. 

Martin Dowling in Reading

There was a large rail replacement bus operation last week as engineering work closed lines for five days (Monday 13th to Friday 17th February).  There were no trains on the Waterloo line between Reading and Bracknell and also from Reading to Guildford on the Gatwick line. 

There was a mixture of all stations and faster services on these lines and a number of operators took part. 

Here are photos of some of the vehicles used. 

From Aldermaston Coaches - SN04ACJ an ex-Lothian Dennis Trident, HD12DAF a Temsa coach and W22ACL a Scania Omnidekka.

Olympia Transport YN72ZPO a Scania coach

BM CoachesYK20YSY a Yutong coach

YK69KZO a Horseman Volvo

A Ford SUV CA58TAR was also parked up with a sticker in the windscreen suggesting it was used to serve some of the smaller stations.


First Bus names Head of Operational Excellence

First Bus has appointed former Arriva man Simon Mathieson (pictured) into the newly created role of Head of Operational Excellence. He will work with the group’s six local business units on all operational matters.

Mr Mathieson was formerly Area Operations Director – Midlands and South with Arriva UK Bus, having previously worked across a variety of operators in multiple operational roles from Operations Manager to Operations Director and then Managing Director. National Express and Stagecoach also feature on his CV.

Working alongside Head of Engineering Excellence Tony Cockcroft – who joined First Bus from Stagecoach in 2022 – Mr Mathieson will report to Chief Operating Officer Andrew Jarvis, as does Mr Cockcroft.

Speaking about his appointment, Mr Mathieson says: “I am really excited to be joining the First Bus team. I am keen to get started by working with the business to further develop our operational excellence capability and deliver high levels of customer satisfaction together.”

Adds Mr Jarvis: “I am delighted to appoint Simon into this new pivotal role that will see him supporting our six local business units on all operational matters.

“Simon will collaborate with senior leadership teams and depot management teams in each of our regions to ensure that they are best positioned to deliver exceptional customer service.”

I am pleased to see this news as when I worked for Stagecoach some 10 years ago Simon was Operations Manager at Oxford. Ed. 


A swan thought it would hitch a lift on a Reading Buses single decker… 

In what is believed to be a first incident of its kind, the swan landed on the roof of the bus in West Street, Reading. 

As normal emergency services were unable to assist, the Swan Lifeline was called. 

Reading Buses Marketing Manager Jake Osman said: “This is definitely a first for me and, as far as we can tell, anyone else in Reading. 

“We have seen seagulls and pigeons sitting on the tops of buses and we’ve even seen them riding for a few metres before flying off when the bus started moving more quickly. 

“However, we obviously did not move the bus whilst the swan was on board.” 

After disembarking from the roof, the swan was then contained by staff and members of the public on the pavement until Swan Lifeline appeared. 

They then took the swan away for a couple of days of observation to ensure it was ok. 

Jake added: “A big thank you to Swan Lifeline for attending and making sure no harm came to the animal. We hope the swan enjoyed its brief stay on our bus and that it recovers with them. 

“It is welcome back on board any time!” 

Whilst the swan was enjoying the view from the roof, Reading Buses arranged an alternative bus to get customers to their destinations without delay.

Martin Dowling

I thought this might be of interest as an unusual cause of cancelling a service.  Yesterday (Thursday 16th), a Reading Buses route19B bus was cancelled as a swan had landed on its roof. 

The bus stayed put until Swanline, who deal with stranded or injured swans, came to the rescue and took it away for a check up.  I think that the bus is 680 an Enviro 200.

The photos are from Reading Buses Twitter feed 

Andrew Dyer

Graham Mildenhall's piece about the end of a service between Heyford and Oxford reminds me of my days travelling daily on that route to school in the 60s.

Ardley - Heyford - Oxford was Route 95 and Buckingham - Bicester - Weston-on-the-Green - Oxford was 96. With the number of people travelling today it's hard to imagine that in the late 60s a 96 journey was diverted via Kirtlington and Bletchingdon so that at 8am there were two double deckers from Bletchingdon into Oxford, both of which would be full by the time they got to Gosford! 

The attached bus, AEC Regent 3 fleet number 168 allocated to Bicester depot was a regular on the 95.

It and a sister were replaced at Christmas 1965 by two brand new Renown's CFC 353 & 354C. The Renown's were allocated to Buckingham and Bedford (Route 70) journeys meaning that Regent 5's 196 &199 KFC were cascaded to run the 95. 

A very long time ago!!

Bob Chalmers

With the recent announcement about the new electric buses due from September - it will be interesting to see what happens to the existing fleet. I assume the 'older' 200/300 series etc are likely to be the first to go? Some presumably will be cascaded to Thames Travel and Carousel to replace their 'random range' of vehicles and maybe others moved on within the Go Ahead group or sold off to private operators. Be interesting to get any updates from OBC about their plans.

Do readers have a further information  and thoughts? Ed. 

Jack Cooper

Seen on a misty morning, February 14th, Thames Travel 925 is pictured in Broad Street.

Nick Ross

East's 11279 is seen leaving Milton Keynes towards Oxford on February 20th.

There is another picture from Buses in the Landscape under Red Rose. Ed. 

     Fleet News and developments   

Kevin Fuller

I spent a morning in High Wycombe today, 18th February, and managed to get pictures of a selection of vehicles from both the Arriva and Carousel fleets: 

Arriva 4749 is a VDL/DAF SB250 with Wright Eclipse Gemini bodywork, seen parked at the Eden bus station. 

Mercedes Citaro 3015 departs the bus station with a service to Reading. 

3816, VDL SB200 / Wright Pulsar picks up passengers in Oxford Street on its way to Aylesbury on route 300.

Optare Versa 2955 is seen heading into Wycombe along Easton Street with a service 37 from Maidenhead. 

Seen turning from Frogmoor into Oxford Street is ADL400, 5460, branded for the 280 Oxford service. 

In Oxford Street again, is VDL SB180 / MCV Evolution 2790 pausing with a service to Bourne End. 

Good to see that there is still a variety of vehicles in the Arriva fleet!

Malcolm Crowe

3009 and 4217 in Cressex depot yard on February 18th.

Matt Robinson

Please find attached a few pictures of buses that have appeared at Arriva’s Leighton Buzzard Outstation over the past few weeks.

The Outstation is now managed by Luton depot, having previously fallen under Aylesbury’s control for around 30 years.

PVR is currently two vehicles, normally a mixture of Mercedes Sprinters, Dennis Darts or short wheelbase StreetLites. 

Kevin Fuller

I spent a morning in High Wycombe today, 18th February, and managed to get pictures of a selection of vehicles from both the Arriva and Carousel fleets: 

Parked at the Carousel depot, a selection of double-deckers, 938, 243 and 941 alongside a Citaro which I believe is preserved. 

More variety outside the Carousel depot are 223, 876 and 979. 

In Oxford Street, Citaro 877 drops passengers before continuing to the bus station, on its journey from Great Missenden.

Appearing anonymous with no fleet number showing, StreetLite Max 401 is seen in Oxford Street. 

Also in Oxford Street is Optare Versa 431, one of two in the fleet. 

940, Volvo B7TL/Wright Eclipse Gemini is seen in Oxford Street with a Park & Ride 8 service. 

A nice variety of vehicles in the Carousel fleet!

Malcolm Crowe

Sadly I missed Kevin who had already taken a picture of these two buses on February 18th.
We could have enjoyed a pleasant chat ! 

High Street Stop L2 Suspended

20th Feb 2023 - 1st Mar 2023

We have been advised that essential footway works will be carried out on High Street near Carfax from the 20th February until approx. 1st March. Stop L2 will be partially suspended so all services that stop there will need to use all available space, including the Carfax drop off area. 

Jack Cooper

677 pays an unexpected visit to Gloucester Green on February 13th.


672 works the 400 on February 15th.

On the 20th, 689 works the X1 seen at St Aldates heading to Wantage.

Thames Travel 512 loaned to Oxford for the 46 on February 12th.

682 seen working the X3 on February 15th and the X1 on February 20th.

I wonder if any regular users of these routes have held a sweepstake to guess what colo/ur th eiir bus will be ? Ed. 

Jack Cooper

925 is seen in Broad Street with an ST1 service on February 14th. 

Graham Mildenhall 

he new number 24 Oxford-villages-Bicester service taken on tbhe first day, February 18th. 

Brent Ricketts

I had the pleasure of driving this Little beauty on a school run Ex Telling's Golden Miller B10 6speed manual coach yesterday

......and what can I say it was so  smooth but is I hadn’t drove a manual for a while it took a while to get used too and also to fill out a analogue tachograph.


Delighted to note that the 40 service is now recorded on

Chris Lodington

I have just been down for an overnight stay with my sister outside Dunstable, and on Wednesday, (15th), we went to Ashridge for a walk with the dogs. We walked down to the village of Aldbury, where just arriving on service 387 from New Mill was Red Rose Travel Dennis Dart 50525 (BU05 HFZ). and thought the attached photo might be suitable for inclusion in the ‘Buses in the landscape’ section. It is quite a scenic location, including a nearly dry pond, and stocks just out of sight to the right. 50525 was waiting to return to New Mill at 13.59.

Gavin Francis

Why Route 387 was special. LT repainted one of their original MBS class Red Arrow buses used in Central London to country area green and this is where it was allocated.

The B&W is not mine but MBS 295 outside the old Tring garage is on March 17th 1973. 

About Stagecoach in Oxfordshire | Stagecoach (

Jack Cooper

36925 is seen at Southsea on February 15th.

A fine view of The Hard at Portsmouth on February 15th. 

I am told that 50446 went straight from repaint to a Volvo facility near Heathrow where it still is as I write this page. 50448 is now under repaint. 

     London operations    

Andrew Webb

Every Wednesday a Rotala bus from the company's Heathrow depot arrives outside West Ealing station to work the 11:17 rail replacement service non-stop to West Ruislip, thus avoiding the bureaucracy associated with closing the section of railway line between Greenford and South Ruislip. 

This bizarre situation arose following Chiltern's withdrawal of the weekly train service in December 2022.  With the journey easily done by rail via a cross platform change at Greenford passengers are virtually non existent but the bus is still required to go to West Ruislip, even if no one turns up!.  On 15 February this arduous duty was entrusted to StreetLite 20179, seen awaiting departure. 

Having spent several years employed by Mullanys to shuttle Harry Potter fans from Watford Junction to the studio tour at Leavesden, this Enviro 400 has now passed to New Adventure in south Wales. 

It is seen in Hayes on 15 February, probably after visiting the nearby Metroline depot, both companies being part of ComfortDelGro. 

Abellio have become the first London operator to put the Wright Streetdeck Electroliner into service.  A batch of 30 for route 111 have been stored for several months awaiting charging facilities at Twickenham depot.  Several have temporarily moved over to route U5 which links Uxbridge with Hayes and Harlington. 

3030 is seen leaving Hayes and Harlington station bound for Uxbridge, whilst 3029 heads from the depot towards Hayes to enter service.

Route branding is a popular way of enticing customers on board buses across the country but has never really caught on in London.  Recent branding exercises centered on routes around Barkingside and Hayes have been left to wither and not repeated in other suburban areas.  A new campaign sees selected buses on route 63 wrapped in this eye catching livery which not only promotes the green credentials of the buses but also highlights the 10 minute frequency run for most of the week. 

Abellio's 3402 and 3403 show off both sides at Kings Cross on 16 February. 

Under Armour,  an American sportswear company that manufactures footwear and apparel, is promoting a new store at Battersea Power Station on Go Ahead's LT310. 

It is seen arriving at Marylebone with another journey on route 453 from Deptford. 

Grahame Wareham relates to 241

823, the second of three being rare normal wheelbase coach spec Olympians, originally intended for Southern Vectis but diverted to Alder Valley Bracknell depot for use on LondonLink services. Numbered 1623 in the Alder Valley North fleet it was later transferred to High Wycombe and numbered 823 when the Len Wright Q Drive organisation purchased the Alder Valley North operation renaming it the Bee Line. Now re-liveried in yellow and grey fleet livery it received new fleet number number 823 and eventually 1823 in the Wycombe Bus fleet under the takeover of High Wycombe depot by Oxford Bus Company in 1990..

In 1993 after a serious accident 1823 had its front rebuilt and received a standard ECW bus style upper deck dome unit and windscreens to prevent constant windscreen damage received from trees. This work was carried out by Bristol Bus & Coach at Lawrence Hill Bristol. 

In 1996 1823 was renumbered 241 

In 1997 241 was up-seated to CH39/25F by the addition of two seats over the lower deck wheelarch.

In 9/99 241 swapped rear axles with 979 and in order that the former could negotiate the more difficult inclines in High Wycombe, by now having been relegated to local bus work.

In December 2000 Wycombe Bus was sold to Arriva Shires and 241 became Arriva 5823 receiving Arriva corporate livery in. In October 2002 5823 was withdrawn and sold to Fairbrother of Warrington, along with 5822, later passing to Stephensons, Rochford and later A.A.Aldis of Framlington known as Venturer Coachways where it was reregistered WIL4714 in December 2010, 

This vehicle may still be lurking around somewhere in the depths of East Anglia as I have heard a few unsubstantiated reports of it appearing elsewhere, although its age and non-compliance would probably rule its existence as a working PCV unlikely.

Can any reader advise on this matter? Ed. 

Malcolm Crowe

Readers may remember that Cambridge Coach Services used to run the 757 service from Cambridge to Oxford via High Wycombe. It seems that their coach failed at High Wycombe and Wycombe Bus used 241 to Oxford and back on February 7th 1999.

It so happened that I was Gloucester Green on the day in question was able to record the event.
Little did I realise that 10 years later I would be driving the 737 service !!

Michael Penn regarding D823UTF

D823UTF_1    City of Oxford (Wycombe Bus) 1823 (D823 UTF) at High Wycombe on 11/5/91 still in Berks Bucks livery.

D823UTF_2    City of Oxford (Wycombe Bus) 1823 (D823 UTF) at High Wycombe on 15/8/92, having had a repaint into Wycombe Bus livery.

D823UTF_3    City of Oxford (Wycombe Bus) 1823 (D823 UTF) at High Wycombe on 29/7/95,
having had its front dome rebuilt and a repaint into the later version of Wycombe Bus livery.

D823UTF_4     Arriva The Shires 5823 (D823 UTF) at High Wycombe on 8/5/01 still in Wycombe Bus livery.

D823UTF_5     Arriva The Shires 5823 (D823 UTF) at High Wycombe on 16/5/02 having been repainted into Arriva livery. 

As a postscript to Grahame’s article about D822 UTF here are some photos of other buses of this type.

4475WE_1  and 4475WE_2 -  The original bus of this type which was exhibited the 1984 Commercial Motor Show in Ebdon’s livery eventually went to South Yorkshire PTE, later South Yorkshire Transport, registered 4475 WE. 

It is seen here at Blackpool Transport’s bus and tram depot on 9/4/89
and later at Scratchwood services on the M1 motorway, now known as London Gateway, on 11/6/89.

C101OTW_1 and C101OTW_2   4475 WE later went through a number of other owners, being re-registered several times.  It eventually went to Stephensons of Rochford, Essex registered C101 OTW. 

It is seen here at the Southend bus rally on 4/6/00 and at Showbus at Duxford on 24/9/00.

D510PPU   is seen here as Eastern National 4510 on a private hire passing St Paul’s cathedral in London on 7/7/92.

D511 PPU is seen here as Eastern National 4511 in Mansell Street, London on an early morning commuter run on 28/4/89. 
This is on the same day and exactly the same place where I photographed Berks Bucks similar D824 UTF.

D511 PPU is seen here as Essex Buses 4511 at Romford on 21/11/98. 

Matt Cooper remembers D822UTF

D822 UTF I noted on 12th June 1993 the vehicle had been badly damaged in an accident whilst working route X15. The vehicles were notorious for being incredibly hot during the summer months with only forced air ventilation for passengers and only the opening cab window for the driver. The driver that day had fainted due to the heat and went off the road into a ditch. Thankfully no injuries to him or the passengers but extensive near side damage to the bus. Having been painted in 'coach' livery to that point (as detailed on last week's page) it returned to service on 1st October 1993 in standard red livery with black skirt and white roof. A white band between the black and red wasn't applied (a feature only shared with Lynx 1405)  

The upper deck windows were changed (as detailed by Grahame last week) and roller blinds had replaced the Hannover dot-matrix screen, the only one converted whilst at Wycombe. The periscope was awkward and as can be seen in a number of pictures each part of the blind is set too high but looked OK from the cab!  

Whilst the vehicles were like ovens in summer, in winter they were the complete opposite! D822 UTF was first to receive a quite fearsome new heating vent added at the front lower saloon beneath the large luggage rack over the nearside front wheel arch. Passengers could first appreciate some extra heat onboard 1822 from 27th January 1996 with the other two treated soon afterwards.  

This is a picture of the gearbox layout.

My friend and long standing driver of Wycombe depot drew it out for me such was my fascination with such things (!) The A1 and A2 positions were low and high ratio settings each with their own 'hold' option. 'D' was most commonly used by drivers and to be fair with the gradients the vehicles were subjected to other settings made little difference. I remember on the daily school run the bus climbing the hill towards Naphill could easily have been overtaken by a keen cyclist!  

The cabs featured a mass of switches on the right-hand side with separate on/off buttons for such things as lighting and rack-mounted air vents for each side of each deck. Most drivers would switch the whole lot on when taking the vehicle over and everything off when leaving! 

Thomas W W Knowles remembers Oxford AEC's of long ago

An operator that had a few ex COMS buses was Edwards of Joys Green near Lydbrook. 

I am attaching some images from this erstwhile operator that you might find interesting for the weekly briefing. 

Some people like dates and I can offer the following: 

OFC 376 OS.   Acquired negative - photo dating from 1968. Probably at the Depot.

OFC 376 FNS  At Joys Green Depot on May 26th 1970.

196 KFC NS    At Joys Green Depot on 24th June 1972.

198 KFC OS    At Joys Green Depot on 10th March 1975

198 KFC NS    Acquired negative taken at Joys Green Depot, photo 198 KFC was taken in 1973.

199 KFC NS.   At Cinderford on 10th March 1975. 

Paul Bateson in Bracknell


Bracknell was well known for being served by Thames Valley and later Alder Valley for many years.  By 1993 the scene had changed and the local bus services were operated by Q Drive Buses Ltd with its Head Office in Wokingham.  

The buses photographed in Bracknell Bus Station on 7th May 1993 were:

Northern Counties-bodied Leyland Olympian 607 (F175 LBL),  Mercedes Benz 168 (E464 EGM), 

Leyland Olympian 605 (F176 LBL), Leyland Lynx 801 (K801 CAN), Leyland Olympian 603 (F171 LBL) and 605 again.

Leyland National 329 ex-Alder Valley 174 (TBL 174M), and Jonckeere-bodied Volvo B10M 786 (F756 OJH).. 

Photographs by PAUL BATESON. 

First Bus leaves Southampton as Go-Ahead steps in

First Bus closed its City Reds operation in Southampton after service on Saturday 18 February, with Bluestar stepping in to provide replacement services in what the Go South Coast subsidiary has heralded as a “new era” for the city.

When in November 2022 First announced its decision to leave Southampton, it said that its business there had “not been sustainable for some time.” First added that the city’s bus market is competitive and that revenue could not sustain the number of buses operating within it.

The final City Reds buses to return to the Empress Road depot were escorted by a Leyland Titan PD2 that was new to predecessor Southampton City Transport in 1963 and which is part of the Southampton and District Transport Heritage Trust (SDTHT) collection.


Adam Green visited Southampton on February 14th where First are ceasing service.

Welcome to City Red. With a high number of bus services to choose from, you’ll be spoilt for choice when it comes to getting around the city for essential travel. 

35212 working route 3.

StreetLites predominated working route 2.

47670 is seen working the 3.

47690 is working the 7.