Our lives are changing once more as here in the U.K. the various countries are easing restrictions and we can once more get out an about. My wife and I had our second Pfizer jab last Wednesday and feel somewhat relieved to be able to get out again.

I must however reflect on the support so many of you have given over the past twelve months enabling me to produce the Weekly Briefing with updates of happenings in various areas and details. Thank you all most sincerely !

FlixBus is back for good challenging National Express in bid to become market leader

Announcing new domestic connections and ambitious growth plans, German-owned FlixBus has thrown down a challenge to National Express – currently the UK’s largest scheduled inter-city coach operator – with high ambitions to become the UK’s largest coach network by 2025.

Key points:

FlixBus, the world’s largest intercity coach travel provider, is launching new domestic connections in the UK. As the country is opening up and domestic travelling becomes part of everyday life again, the market player hits the road from 15 April. It previously operated a limited range of routes, prior to lockdown.

The initial offer covers 18 routes between 12 cities. Passengers can book tickets from 99p for a number of connections between London, Birmingham, Bradford, Bristol, Cardiff, Derby, Leeds, Leicester, Loughborough, Manchester, Sheffield as well as Swansea. There will be up to 7 departures in each direction on peak days depending on the route. The most frequent corridors will be London-Bristol, and London-Birmingham.

Andreas Schorling, Managing Director FlixBus UK: “Many UK residents have held back their activities in the past months to reach the point where people can start to reunite. We are glad that we can provide a new, value for money mobility alternative to those travelling to meet their loved ones finally.

“Seeing the efficient vaccination program, we are hopeful that more and more passengers will have the opportunity to move around the country freely again in the upcoming period. Although outlooks are optimistic, we stay cautious: hygiene and safety continue to be our highest priority to ensure a safe journey.”

FlixBus will keep applying preventive measures on the vehicles. Every coach will be disinfected before every ride and undergo a thorough cleaning process. In line with local regulations, passengers will have to wear masks, as will drivers when away from their seat. The row immediately behind the drivers will be kept clear, and only half of the remaining seats will be sold to help keep a safe distance between passengers.

Continuous growth in line with the gradual opening of the country

In line with the Government’s roadmap to open up the country, FlixBus will gradually increase the number of connections in the upcoming weeks. The goal is to have a “truly compelling” offer by the summer, with new holiday destinations and a significantly increased number of cities in the domestic network.

When the situation allows it, FlixBus will also bring back international services between UK cities and destinations in continental Europe, such as Paris, Amsterdam or Brussels. The company says it has “bold long-term plans” in the UK and aims to build the country’s largest coach network by 2025.

Local companies to recover in cooperation with FlixBus

FlixBus does not own coaches or employ drivers. The business model is based on a collaboration with local small and medium sized companies. FlixBus uses state of the art technology solutions to plan the offer and provide a smart and convenient customer journey.

The partners, often family-run businesses with decades of experience in the industry, take care of the day-to-day operations. FlixBus and the partners share the revenue of the rides operated together, with the more significant part realized on the partner’s side. Like this, both parties stay motivated to always provide the best service for the passengers and ultimately, all stakeholders benefit from the business model.

“The past year hit the transportation industry hard. For SMEs especially, it is crucial to restart their businesses as long as it can be done in a safe way by following regulations and guidelines. We are confident that we can provide a stable base for our partners to grow and strengthen their business after a very challenging period.” – added Schorling. 

The UK among the first countries where FlixBus ramps-up in 2021 

FlixBus is currently present in 36 countries. As a result of the accelerated vaccination campaign and the ongoing easing of the restrictions, the UK is among the first markets in FlixBus’ global network to start growth projects this year.

Andreas Schorling: adds: “Our colleagues around the world are also fastening their eyes on our expansion in the UK. Thanks to the quick improvements in the situation around COVID-19, we will draw some important conclusions from the local UK mobility sector experiences.” 

Well good luck to Flixbus and only time will tell. It is however a timely warning to express operators up and down the land, keep watching developments. Ed.

Seacourt Park & Ride changes

Jack Cooper

Improvements to the Seacourt Terminal of route 400 are seen in this picture taken on April 10th.
The 300 service will restart next week.

Photographic contributions this week

This week once again we have many photographic contributors supporting the page including Derek Dawson, Grahame Wareham, Nick Eustace and from north of border Paul Hawkins. Regulars continue their support without whom this page would be a shadow of what we all enjoy.

Derek Dawson

Stepping back in time, Derek sent this picture of 50102 along the M40 on March 5th 2006.
Also seeing all the pictures of the new Tube buses thought I would send a pic of one of the Neoplan Skyliners, 17 years later and the livery has not changed much

Gavin Francis

Ex megabus Astromega 50235 is still putting in a full days work for the Oxford tube as seen here on April 5th.

Grahame Wareham

Grahame has shared this picture of Queen 975 at Chipping Norton garage many years ago.

Jack Cooper

Jack is a dab hand at taking picturesque photographs during his travel. The daffodil display at the bottom of Headington Hill is magnificent.

James Freeman

Variety of colours at Didcot Parkway on April 7th with 208, 842, 442, 245 and 622 providing service to customers.

Paul Bateson shares memories of the London Transport RLH in its final days.

Paul Coley writes "Pictures taken this week at Hawkeslade Farm in Aylesbury. Red Rose v Arriva. Smart, branded and clean Red Rose East Lancs Scanias, v some grotty, dirty and dented Arriva Solo. If you were a passenger, which would you chose for your journey in to town?"

An interesting comparison.


Things in the weeks ahead of us will change and Stagecoach are making significant efforts to return matters to normal as their press release reveals.

April 7th 2021


·         Brand new ticket app providing coach tracking and estimated arrival times
·         Complete fleet upgrade following £13m investment into new coaches
Oxford Tube service has returned to a 7 day operation

It’s all systems go following the Oxford Tube’s return to service last week with a brand new ticket and journey planning app live in the app store, enabling even easier travel for new and returning passengers on board the service’s entirely upgraded fleet.

Just launched, the new Oxford Tube app delivers a choice of tickets and enhanced features to help passengers plan, track and buy.

Designed to make travelling between Oxford and London hassle-free, the new app offers a simple journey-planning tool, which uses interactive maps and the smartphone’s GPS system to help customers identify their nearest coach stop.

Passengers can also access live running times via their smartphone to check the status of their journey before catching the coach – giving them more time to finish what they are doing before leaving for the coach stop.  

In addition, the app enables customers to pinpoint their location during their journey, helping them determine where they are on the route at any one time, how far they are from their destination and when to get off the coach. This will be of particular benefit to those who are not regular Oxford Tube coach users and are unfamiliar with the stops at either end of the route.

The new app replaces the original app, which served as a mobile ticket app only. It is available free of charge for Apple and Android mobile phones.

Whilst using the new app to track their next coach, customers can expect one of Oxford Tube’s recent investments to arrive to take them to their destination. The entire coach fleet has now been replaced after the initial introduction to service was short lived at the end of last year. The new luxurious coaches provide customers with a host of new on board features including at seat wireless and USB charging, reading lights, individual trays and cup holders, free Wi-Fi, foot rests and 3 point seats belts.

Karen Coventry, Commercial Director at Stagecoach in Oxfordshire, which manages the Oxford Tube, said: “In today's fast-paced world, time is really precious.  Our new app will make travelling to the Capital, whether for work or for leisure, that much easier and give people back a little more time to get the most out of their day.

“Our new coaches also facilitate better use of time with wireless charging to stay connected to friends’ en route and individual tables and USB ports for efficient working during a commute.

“Our aim is to continue to ensure the Oxford tube is the preferred choice for travel between Oxford and London and the investment in these latest features enables us to deliver the best experience for our passengers.”

Further information on the Oxford Tube app visit www.oxfordtube.com

On a further note co-operation is the way forward.

April 9th 2021

Bus operators announce plans for coordinated bus timetable ramp up as county gears up for next stage of unlocking  

As England gears up for the next stage of unlocking on 12 April, Stagecoach Oxfordshire and Oxford Bus Company have announced that their coordinated bus services will be operating to a new full level of service in order to support the re-opening of non-essential retail, outdoor hospitality and personal care businesses. 

From Monday 12th April, services 1/5 on Monday to Saturday will be increased. The new frequencies will be up to every 4 minutes on Monday to Friday daytimes, up to every 5 minutes Saturday daytimes and up to every 7-8 minutes during the evenings. No changes will be made to the Sunday timetable. 

Shared city services 2, 3, 8 and 9 will see the regular Saturday timetables reintroduced from Saturday 17th April. The additional connections to the vaccination centre at Kassam Stadium on the 3a service which were introduced in January will remain, to continue to provide crucial daily links. 

Both operators are taking the opportunity to thank people for their continued co-operation in following all the guidelines in place. In line with the advice from the country’s health advisors, all people travelling on public transport will need to continue to follow the legal rules around wearing face coverings for the full duration of the journey, washing/sanitising hands before and after travel and maintaining social distancing. Both operators are also reminding customers not to close any open windows to help with natural ventilation and take their litter away when leaving the bus. 

Other Covid-19 secure measures put in place by both operators include the ability to check how busy individual buses are (via an app or website) to help customers travel at quieter times, encouraging people to pay by contactless or through operator apps to reduce cash handling, social distancing measures in place with a reduced number of seats available, regular touchpoint cleaning as well as fitting anti-virus air filters to buses in the fleet. 

Martin Gibbon, Operations Director at Stagecoach Oxfordshire, said: “As we gear up for the next stage of unlocking in England with many leisure and hospitality facilities opening up, our bus services will continue to play a crucial role in helping people to re-connect with the things they enjoy doing.  

“All of our services are fully Covid secure with extra measures in place to help people feel fully confident as they return to public transport.  We’ve all worked so well together, and as the country starts to unlock, it’s still important that people continue to follow all the guidelines in place as they travel on our services.  

“We’d like to thank our customers for their support and co-operation over the past year. As the vaccination programme continues at pace and as more of the country starts to open up in line with the Government’s roadmap, people are desperately keen to return to some kind of normality and our bus services will make sure they get to where they want to easily and safely.” 

Phil Southall, Oxford Bus Company Managing Director, said: “Our bus services will be operating at 'new normal' frequencies, many of which are operating at pre-pandemic levels.

“We are ready to welcome people on-board and looking forward to playing a key role in helping Oxford bounce back. Our team are proud to play an important part in supporting Oxford’s economy and our communities. Rest assured our services remain safe and secure.

“Public transport is vital to preventing a return to severe congestion and a reduction in air quality and we hope people re-embrace it.”

Rachel Wileman, Assistant Director for Strategic Infrastructure and Planning at Oxfordshire County Council, said: “Buses and public transport play a vital role in our sustainable local economy and in connecting communities across the county. As we begin the process of safely returning to workplaces, shopping and leisure activities, local bus services will play a vital part in our county’s recovery. We’d urge travellers to follow all safety guidelines bus operators have invested in to keep us safe and allow extra time to familiarise yourself with all advice offered.”

For more information about Stagecoach bus services, visit www.stagecoachbus.com

For more information about Oxford Bus Company services, visit: www.oxfordbus.co.uk  

Fleet news and developments

Nick Ross

3892 arrives at a wintry Leighton Buzzard station with the F77 1755 Luton - Leighton on April 6th 2021

That picture makes me feel cold just looking at it from my warm study!

Paul Coley

A picture taken this week at Hawkeslade Farm in Aylesbury.  Arriva a grotty, dirty and dented Solo !

A grotty, dirty and dented Solo, 2452 on April 5th/

Jack Cooper

Climbing Headington Hill, E400 5463 looks fairly deserted on April 9th. 

Nick Eustace

Thought you might interested to see Heyfordian Tourliner OU17ORZ now retrofitted with wheelchair lift and LED destination boards. 

Gavin Francis

With little indication that this is a Carousel bus, 941 is seen at the depot on April 8th.

Pete Canon

Pete noted that service 27 was worked by Solo 710 MX08MYY returning from Thames Travel but carrying "The Chiltern Hundreds" livery.

Gavin Francis

One supposes that the driver needed a break when 308 was seen in Gloucester Green on April 10th.

Teal coloured city13 is seen in St Aldates on April 10th

Seen in Magdalen Street West 605 is seen heading for Wolvercote with a 35 road service on April 10th.

I think this may be one of the last times we see a Park & Ride bus on the X3, 675 in St Aldates on April 10th. 

Jack Cooper was out and about in the past few days

Tourismo 34 is seen in rain climbing St Aldates with a Heathrow service on April 10th.

In better weather on April 9th Ashmolean branded 40 is seen going up along Headington Hill.

Not so far repainted 354 is working 8 road whilst 356 is at the JR with an X3 working on April 9th.

A recent repaint into city 2 livery, 365 is seen entering Magdalen Street East with a 2B on April 10th.

606 and 670 are seen climbing and at the bottom of Headington Hill with 400 services on April 9th.

Park & Ride 681 and two others are seen at Cowley House on April 8th.

On a wet day, city3 branded 683 is running down St Aldates with a 3A for the station on April 10th.

Not many of the NHS Shuttle service Mercedes are seen but above 955 is seen near the JR on April 9th. 

Gavin Francis

Providing a different view of 221 which show off the GWR branding applied to this bus and seen in St Aldates on April 10th.

Jack Cooper

On a wet April 10th, Scania 210 is seen heading up St Aldates with an 11 servicer to Watlington.

Recently repainted in connector livery 226 is seen in Didcot with an X2 to Oxford on April 10th.

Also working the X2, 243 is seen in Oxford on April 8th.

Here Jack caught 244 at Cowley House, so far not in service, on April 8th.

Scania 251 is seen in Wallingford with an X38 heading for Oxford on April 10th.

Having arrived in Oxford, Citaro 849 is seen in St Aldates with an X32 service on April 10th.

Jack says this is his favourite route, the X36 worked by 905 near Didcot on April 10th.

Ex PMU 973 is seen in Wootton Road with a 45 working on April 9th. 

Services are returning now and Gavin Francis caught up with two operations last week.

Edwards BU18OTA with an 040 service from Bristol outside Victoria Coach Station on April 8th.

West Midlands based SH294 is seen in Elizabeth Street ready to work a 440 service to Derby on April 8th. 

Jack Cooper

Volvo eVoRa BB70BUS is seen in Carterton with a service 19 on April 9th.

including Newbury & District - Thames Valley Buses

Courtney Buses will formally be renamed Thames Valley Buses, parent company Reading Buses has announced.

The operation officially became Thames Valley Buses on 5 April, although the complete transition will take place over a longer period as the company name is changed in all the places it appears.

Following acquisition by Reading Buses two years ago, Courtney Buses began to make greater user of the Thames Valley Buses name alongside investment in new vehicles for Slough, the introduction of low emission Euro VI vehicles for Heathrow and Wokingham, and a refresh within Maidenhead.

Courtney Buses were purchased by Reading Buses in April 2019 and had previously been known as Courtney Coaches and subsequently Courtney Buses since 1973.

Robert Williams, Reading Buses Chief Executive Officer, said: “We are really excited at this final phase of the transition. The switch over will bring smart new branding to the rest of the Courtney Buses network in the coming months as we continue to invest in attracting more people to our services.

“Although Courtney Buses had a good reputation, it was a family name without the family in the company. We decided it would need to be phased out.

“The change in name reflects the parent company’s growth from a local to regional operator and the accompanying branding retains elements of the old Courtney brand whilst bringing a new, fresh look to the area. Thames Valley Buses retains its own dedicated team based in Bracknell.

“The company has colour-branded areas – a similar idea to the branded routes of the parent company Reading Buses, but each with their own team of drivers. This allows the company to provide friendly services for the residents of Bracknell, Maidenhead, Slough and Wokingham that are tailored to the needs of each area.” 

Tony Bungay

 Redline Enviro 400 on April 9th working their town service 4 in Aylesbury, when I first noticed it approaching I thought it was a Red Rose vehicle! Due to the yellow. LK55KKH ex Metroline TE676

Redline's LK55KKH is ex Metroline TE676 here working route 4 in Aylesbury on April 9th.

Gavin Francis has provided a picture of this bus over 12 years ago when it was working in London with Metroline.

TE676 seen in Metroline days in Piccadilly on March 13th 2012 by Gavin Francis.

Jack Cooper

E200 YX61FZH with a 275 working climbs Headington Hill on April 9th, looking clean and smart !

Paul Coley

A few pictures taken this week at Hawkeslade Farm in Aylesbury. Red Rose buses are smart, branded and clean.

Red Rose East Lancs Scania E15RRT on April 5th.


Gavin Francis

Often working the 700 and purchased specifically for that service 10071 is seen working a 2A on April 10th.

M A N 39699 is seen at Horspath depot on April 8th and one wonders if its time at Banbury is now over?

Jack Cooper

E400 10070 and MMC 10679 are both seen by the JR working service 700 on April 9th.

Gold MMC 10783 is seen at Pioneer Square, Bicester with an S5 working on April 9th.

Gold MMC 10784 is seen in Worcester Street with an S3 working on April 9th.

MMC 11237 is seen with an H2 working by the JR on April 9th.

Not often we have a picture in Carterton so here is 11238 with anS1 for Oxford on April 9th.

MMCs 11250 and 11238 at Carterton ready for services towards Oxford on April 9th.

Still looking clean and tidy Hybrid 12010 is seen heading for the JR with service 10 on April 10th.

E200 36448, new to Oxfordshire, is seen with a 3A service to The Kassam on April 10th.

Three short routes in Bicester for Stagecoach are the 26, 27 and 29 seen above with E200s 36769 and 36932 on April 9th.

One of only two new local livery buses with SCO, 37630 Bicester Village Station with service 505 on April 9th.

Ageing Solo 47735 is seen in Carterton with a 233 service on April 9th. 


Gavin Francis

Tri-axle elite 54313 is seen in Gloucester Green on April 11th with an X5 service.

Jack Cooper

During a visit to Bicester Jack caught Tri-axle elite 54305 in Pioneer Square on April 9th with an X5 service. 

Bill Brown provides some more pictures from Fife which show how quickly repainting is going on !

Another recent repaint seen working the 19A to Dunfermline at Halbeath Park & Ride on April 9th.
YX65PZU is an AD E20D/AD Enviro 200MMC new to Stagecoach Fife as their 26019 in December 2015.

Solo 47367 is seen Laurencekirk with service 9 on April 7th.

Stagecoach in Fife's Plaxton Elite bodied Volvo B11R, 53805 YY65SXM seen immediately after repaint on April 6th at Perth
and then on April 9th at Halbeath with an X61 service.

Tri-axle 54105 is seen in Montrose with an X7 service on April 8th.

Two coaches intended for the Oxford tube 50447 and 50450 with east coast express services at Halbeath Park & Ride on April 9th.

Thanks to Bill Brown for these excellent pictures. 

Still no news regarding the impending merger of West with Oxfordshire. One wonders what is afoot? 

Gavin Francis

Ex megabus Astromega 50235 ran like a well oiled clock with a London service on April 8th.

Panoramas from the rear, 50441 at the depot and 50443 in St Aldates both a April 10th.

Jack Cooper

50235 again now heading for London again on April 9th. It looks pristine for a coach now 10 years old.

Panorama 50432 is seen turning into Chain Alley at the end of its journey from London on April 9th.

50432 and 50435 are seen at Headington Hill on April 9th. 

The company is now back in Victoria as seen in this picture by Gavin Francis

It's 50407 again and working an M20 to Edinburgh by VCS on April 8th. 

London operators

Gavin Francis

LT50 again looking smart on April 8th.

LT668 with a nice wrap for Korea, I'm sure they mean south? on April 8th,

London United (RATP) Volvo Hybrid 45112 working a 211 along Buckingham Palace Road on April 8th. 

Michael Wadman

Some more shots of Red Rose. Starting to get a bit modern – only twenty years ago! 

M260 VEJ was a Dennis Dart with East Lancs body acquired from Davies of Pencader in 1998. Sadly it was destroyed in a depot fire in November 2007.  

Watford, Clarendon Road, operating the Sunday 501 service on Easter Monday 2001.

Watford High Street on 22nd June 2002. The blind says service 11, but I can’t remember whether that was W11 or R11.

On layover in Luton bus station on July 5th 2003. 

Y358 LCK was one of a pair of Dennis Dart SLF with East Lancs bodies bought new in 2001. 

Watford, Clarendon Road, operating the Sunday 501 service on Easter Monday 2001.

Watford, Market Street, in revised livery on local service R8 on March 31st 2007.

Watford, Clarendon Road, on local service R9 on April 2nd 2009.

Very many thanks for his regular contribution to this section of our Weekly Briefing.



It is 50 years this week since the last RLH class bus operated with London Transport on route 178 on April 16th, 1971.   There were two batches, RLH 1 – 20 (KYY 501 – 20) new in 1950 and RLH 21 – 76 (MXX 221 – 76) new in 1952.  These buses operated as green buses in the Country Area (later London Country Buses) and red buses in the Central Area.  This selection of photographs celebrates the final days.


RLH 45 (MXX 245) was photographed on route 463 with London Country in Walton-on-Thames on July 11th, 1970. 
Considering its age, the bus was looking quite smart.


RLH 35 has already run its final journey.  It was pictured on 1 August 1970 at the Addlestone Garage (WY) of London Country.



The final day for the RLH class on route 248 out of Hornchurch Garage (RD) was  September 18th, 1970. 
These views of RLH 71 and RLH 69 were taken in Cranham on that day.


I covered route 178 on the last day of RLH operation on April 16th, 1971.  RLH 58 was parked on Well Street in between trips.


RLH 29 boarding passengers in Stratford Broadway as it headed towards Clapton Pond.



Three views of RLH 64 in Well Street.  The bus was looking rather scruffy for its final day in service on route 178.


RLH 49 was photographed at Clapton Pond prior to departing on probably its final journey.


I was there to photograph the final bus, RLH 61, as it arrived at Clapton Pond on April 16th, 1971. 
By coincidence I knew the driver and consequently I was invited to stay on board for the ride to Dalston Garage (D).
Little did I know that I would follow this bus for another 50 years as it was exported to Toronto, Canada
and was the first British-built bus that I found after moving to the Toronto area in 1973!


RLH 61 was pictured in a rural location in Thornhill, Ontario on January 8th, 1974. 
This area is now a built-up urban area with a shopping plaza and high-rise buildings.


RLH 61 was purchased by Travelways and used on tours in Kingston, Ontario as seen on August 23rd, 1979.


I was involved in the repatriation of RLH 61 when it was purchased by Ensign. 
It was pictured on May 17th, 2004 at Port Hope on its journey to the docks in Montreal for onward shipping to Tilbury.


RLH 61 was extensively restored and made for a beautiful sight when it was displayed at the London Bus Rally at Longcross on April 1st, 2007.


Photographs by PAUL BATESON

Martin Sutton writes "I have been whiling away the hours by, amongst other things, cataloguing photographs for The Bus Archive.  I am presently working with Ian Manning on the late Clive King's collection, which he has left to The Bus Archive along with his books and other items.  As you can imagine, his collection is expansive.  However, he did not keep any written records of exactly what he was photographing or of locations, and it was said that he didn't need to since he could remember all the details.  He had a predilection for the obscure, including odd non-PSV types, travellers vehicles and so on.  Coupled with the fact that he wasn't really interested in the background, most of his pictures are record shots of the vehicles themselves, rarely in service, and mostly in depots and yards.  This makes identifying many of the locations a particular challenge.

One such challenge is the vehicle in the attached picture of FHT112.

Are you or your readers please able to shed any light on where this picture may have been taken, whether Messrs J A Golding & I R Watson of Wellow still owned it in 1972 

 We know this much of its history, largely derived from the Bristol Su and BusView sites:-

Sep 38

In service with Bristol Tramways & Carriage Company Limited, Bristol (3209)


Rebuilt by Bristol Tramways


Out of service with Bristol Tramways & Carriage Company Limited, Bristol (3209)

Jan 55

In service with Brighton, Hove & District Omnibus Company Limited, Hove (5995)


Converted to CO30/26R

May 56

Fleet number changed to 995


Out of service with Brighton, Hove & District Omnibus Company Limited, Hove (995)

Oct 62

Southern Vectis Omnibus Company Limited, Newport (906)


In service with Southern Vectis Omnibus Company Limited, Newport (906) - Based at Ryde

Jul 66

Out of service with Southern Vectis Omnibus Company Limited, Newport (906)

Aug 66

J A Golding & I R Watson, Wellow

Jan 75

D W Boughton, Ipswich

Dec 17

Seaford & District Motor Services, Seaford

We also know from the context with the other pictures around it that it was taken on the 1972 Trans-Pennine Run.  Checking my Buses Illustrated 1972 volume, there is a report of the Trans-Pennine Run in the October edition by David Fereday Glenn and John F Parke.  I quote from that article: "The West Yorkshire Road Car Co Ltd had generously lent its mobile inquiry office to serve as a control and commentary point - Malcolm Crowe was once again in good voice and form as a commentator".  On the basis that there can only possibly be one Malcolm Crowe, this leads me to you!

I continue to read your OCBP weekly briefing with great interest and many thanks for all your hard work on this.  Hoping that we might be able to catch up in person at some point in the not too distant future.


Grahame Wareham writes "I wish to reply to Andy Dyer's article in the last bulletin on the COMS 'Queen's'. I must admit it has touched a bit of a 'raw nerve' with me as the owner of 975, the last known survivor.

I have owned 975 now for 45 years and I purchased it direct from COMS after it was officially transferred back to the Company from Hants & Dorset in November 1975, this was facilitated by the then COMS Chief Engineer, Peter Lanfranchi, who was actually my boss at the time and thought that I needed another project after completing the restoration of my AEC Regal 727!

975 stayed in the back of 'G' garage at Cowley Road for a number of years where I was allowed to work on it and by the middle of 1978 I had reconditioned the brakes, the engine and gearbox had been out and back in for deep chassis cleaning and cylinder head gasket replacement and a new clutch plate. The bodywork received all round lower panel replacement with new rear wheel arches, the old ones having rotted out. It was presentable enough to show the 'work in progress' at the Company's Centenary celebrations in 1981 but after that, as often happens in preservation, other buses such as Bridgemaster 312 and Renown 332 came on the scene and this together with the engine failure on Regal 703, took resources away from 975. It then was basically 'mothballed' and a move away from Cowley Road brought on other projects which cumulated into another move with a slimmed down but more 'sophisticated' vehicle collection.

975 at varying stages of its existence!

A change in job status occurred whereby I was unable to comfortably juggle my time between family and preservation so I decreed that once I retired in 2015 I would use as much time ad I could to work on our buses to get some completed. Because of many factors I decided that the Olympian's would take less time to get ready (wrong!) and with the last arrival, ex. Harwell 239, restoration would be simpler. How wrong I was with this as well but having already spent far more money on this bus than anything else I had owned I was compelled to get it on the road. Once the offside front chassis frame section has been replaced then work will be almost complete. The bus has been saved...........but what a lot of work!

The next bus in line to be completed will then fall to 975 and I hope I live long enough to complete it!.................mostly interior work which can be quite time consuming.

To fully answer Andy's question of are there any more 'Queens' out there I would comment as follows, against each fleet number:- 

964 Converted by Barton, Chilwell to a tree lopper and purchased by me for mechanical units in 1985, the remains sent to Rollinson, Barnsley for scrap. (Top deck had rotted through)

965 Sold by Barton, Chilwell to a night club owner in Boulogne, France. (Mike Bridges and I did go over in 1980 to see if we could find it, but thankfully we couldn't!)

966 Scrapped by Stevenson's, Uttoxeter in 1979.

967 Sold by Cherry, Beverly to Johnson, Scotstoun, Glasgow in 1974, believed scrapped

968 Sold by Wild, Barnoldswick in 1976, believed scrapped.

969 Sold by Leon, Finningley to Jamieson, Dunscroft for scrap in 1977

970 Sold by Provincial,(Gosport & Fareham), Hoeford in 1975 for scrap.

971 Sold by Irvine, Law to Sykes, Blackerhill for scrap in August 1973

972 Converted to Driver Trainer by Provincial and finally sold for scrap in 1979

973 Sold for scrap (along with 979) to an unknown scrap dealer in Bridgend by Morris, Swansea in 1977.

974, 977 and 978 sold by Provincial, Hoeford to Askin, Barnsley for scrap in October 1975. (I removed many part from these to aid the restoration of 975).

976 Sold by Provincial to Askin, Barnsley in 1975 after receiving rear end accident damage earlier in 1974. Some parts used for 972 by Provincial. 

I attach some pictures of 975 as I went to view it before purchase in 1975 and two nice shots of 972 at Chipping Norton depot taken by Mike Bridges whilst this bus was on a very rare work journey working to an outside depot. In service the 'Queens' rarely strayed outside the City.

As I used to travel to work on these fine machines back in 1967 I also have good excuse to reminisce! 

My final quest regarding 975 is to find a nice colour slide or photograph of 975 in full COMS livery...........here's hoping! 

Sorry to ramble on it bit with this Malcolm but I'm trying to justify why it has taken 45 years and it' still not finished............ - probably five years if I'm honest!


Derek Dawson

Thanks to Paul's pictures of OFC395 in the US solved a query I had. 

Photographed passing along the A34 on November 20th 2015, on its way home. I was unsure of its origin as the blinds threw me


Mark Turner writes "MULLANY'S Buses/Coaches, WATFORD may have scrapped one of their buses recently. The registration of this Dart was LX06FAO."

"I wonder if anyone knows there it went to and if there are any pictures of the bus in very recent times?"

"It was most recently in service with Mullanys during December 2020 and I include this picture for help regarding this bus." 

Paul Hawkins who lives in Edinburgh

 First time out with the camera this year and was in Aberdeen doing a delivery and managed to catch some of the Wright Hydrogen Vehicles recently introduced to service as well as the refurbished and repainted
Enviro 500's and ex York Citaro artics


Couple of E400MMC'S including the first 21 Plate I've seen and the new branding for the 727 service from Union Square Bus Stn to the Airport via the Covid-19 Vaccination Centre.


And Finally a Megabus and Citylink Plaxton Paramount at Aberdeen Union Square Bus Stn the Citylink being one of the diverted Oxford Tube ones.

Very many thanks to Paul for his contributions which are even of local interest!

Bill Brown from Fife

Charlie Irons Coaches of Edinburgh Setra S315-GT-HD N100CHA at Halbeath Park & Ride with Heart of Midlothian FC

JP Coaches ex SCO 59213 FJ56OCA at Forfar on October 235th 2017.

I remember many happy hours with this coach when working the National Express 737 from Oxford to Stansted between 2007 and 2009.

This bus was new to GHA Coaches (now defunct) and then  Compass Travel before moving to Smith & Sons of Coupar Angus
with whom it is seen working route 47 on April 7th 2021.